Email and other electronic communications has become a standard way of sending and receiving information in today’s world. It’s convenient, fast and free. But, you need to consider the diverse group of owners in a Homeowner’s Association before you embark on the electronic route. In addition, state laws and association bylaws may dictate requirements for different types of communication. So, there are multiple details to check on before you act.
Many owners appreciate electronic communications for being both eco-friendly and cost-effective. However, there are multiple things to consider before the Board switches to electronic. You will always need a Plan B for owners without email/Web access or people who don’t want more email, so you can provide print versions of all your communications.
Before you make any decisions, you need to determine the types of electronic communication your state permits. For example, many states allow the use of electronic communications for Board and Committee meetings. However, the same states may require other notices to be sent via regular mail or certified mail, i.e., intent to foreclose or file a lien notices. Make sure your communications meet legal guidelines.
State regulations may also require that owners in an Association to agree to receive electronic communication. At the onset, the Board should obtain member consent forms prior to sending electronic communication. If an owner rescinds their consent, the owner’s email address must be removed from the Association email records.
The Board should review the Association’s Bylaws to determine if they contain authorization and qualifications about email communication. If they do not authorize electronic communications, the Bylaws need to be amended. Depending on your governing documents, this amendment could require a vote by membership or approval by the Board of Directors.
The Board needs to consider how they want to receive communication from owners. You want to make it easy for owners to contact you via email. Many HOA boards provide email addresses for all board members, which usually leads to excessive and misunderstood communications from owners. Developing a single email address for the Board, such as HOABoard@xxxAssociation.com, is an effective way to communicate. Assign a primary and secondary person to monitor this email account and redirect messages appropriately.
Whether you are communicating via email or print, the basis of all board and owner communications should be: “How can we make this as user-friendly as possible?” By focusing on ways to meet this objective, your HOA Board can keep the communication channel open. Owners that are well-informed and have a good understanding of association news and activities tend to be more satisfied with the association.
Effective and efficient communications are critical to a well-run Association. It enhances morale while saving the Association time and money. Don’t get bogged down in the same routine. Check into different options to determine the communication channels that yield maximum results for your Board and Association.