Most homeowner associations operate on a tight annual budget, with any cash reserves earmarked for future replacements and upgrades. So, there’s little room in the budget for an unexpected expense. Even if your Board dots every ‘i’ and crosses every ‘t’, unanticipated expenses can create the need for a special assessment. Selling the assessment to homeowners is always a challenge. Here are three communication techniques that can make a difference.
Honesty and knowledge are essential. Obtain professional advice about the project details. Develop responses for anticipated questions so that you can talk knowledgably about the issue with homeowners. Everyone is in this together, and straightforward answers help establish trust.
Communicating a special assessment requires time and tact. Remember that your Board members have had time to research and discuss options. It’s natural that HOA owners have questions and need time to accept the news. Take advantage of every communication opportunity to explain details and answer questions. You’ll find that owners are less resistant when they don’t feel blind-sided by the news of a special assessment.
Explain why a special assessment is needed. Homeowners want an answer when they ask why there’s a need and what will be done to help prevent future special assessments. Perhaps it’s an unexpected one-time issue. Or, it could be neglected maintenance that you can start scheduling. Another common reason for a special assessment is the dipping into the reserve funds. Explain how you got to this point, but stick with the facts. Avoid the blame game. Knowing the details help owners understand why their support is needed.
Your Board has a fiduciary responsibility to develop an adequate annual budget for the association. In addition, funding reserves according to your reserve study is a part of your annual budget. Yet, the unexpected can happen. If your HOA is facing the need for a special assessment, keep your owners in the loop regarding the funds. Good communication can make a big difference.
Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving East Tennessee (including: KINGSPORT, TN | JOHNSON CITY, TN | BRISTOL, TN | ELIZABETHTON, TN | ERWIN, TN | BRISTOL, VA | KNOXVILLE, TN) with offices in Knoxville, TN and the Tri-Cities, TN-VA. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management. The firm is East Tennessee’s only Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC®).
Knoxville, TN: 865-643-8989
Tri-Cities, TN: 423-926-7373