Fall is a great time of year to focus on our interpersonal relationships. Call it a warm-up to the holidays. During the summer travel season, homeowners can develop a sense of disconnect within their neighborhoods and miss the value their HOA provides. Ultimately, this may cause grumbling about paying dues or other association related things. If that is happening in your community, it could be because your HOA is missing the boat on sharing what is really important–people connections.

The goal of an HOA should be more than fixing what needs to be repaired. It should include helping homeowners become invested in the community just as they are in their own homes. Create a bond among homeowners by doing these few simple things.

Use shared areas

Take advantage of communal areas to bring residents together. Organize events regularly in clubhouses, recreational facilities, and even the outdoor kitchen or barbecue areas to encourage members to interact with each other. They may find they share common interests with others that will lead the closer relationships after the events are over.

Keep communication flow open

Give homeowners a path for communication to the board and be sure they know their input matters in governing the neighborhood. Part of the association’s job is to promote open communication between itself and the members. Providing an avenue for that communication is crucial in improving relations among all interested parties.

Plan fun events

Use a football rivalry or a holiday to organize a fun event to create a sense of community and encourage members to get to know each other. Often, homeowners get so busy with their own lives they miss out on meeting others. But give them a good reason and they may join in the fun and enjoy interacting with other residents.

Because communities often reflect many faiths and cultures, consider a nonsecular December holiday, such as HumanLight. Celebrated on or near December 23rd, HumanLight is designed to celebrate and express the positive, nonreligious human values of reason, compassion, humanity and hope. Or there is the Winter Solstice on December 21st– the shortest day of the year and a good time to reflect, release, let go and set new intentions for the upcoming season.

Clearly communicate HOA rules

Misunderstandings arise from poor or ineffective communication about HOA rules, causing hard feelings or a dysfunctional association. Upset homeowners may even try to create discord against the board. This can easily be avoided if the board communicates the rules clearly to all parties to avoid conflicts.

Organize a welcoming committee

A volunteer committee to welcome new homeowners to the neighborhood will create goodwill among new residents of the HOA. This seemingly small gesture will not only welcome them to the neighborhood, but it will shed some good light on the HOA and can even persuade them to become involved with the association in the future. The bonus is they will also have met some people in the neighborhood and may be less shy about meeting others. The welcoming committee can give the new residents a pastry and a small packet of Maui coffee, a selection of local fruit, or another small token to say hello.

Share the DMI newsletter

A newsletter lets residents know news relative to their community, and is another way to open up communication between the HOA and residents. Although each owner can sign up for their own copy in their new owner packet, HOAs may send the quarterly newsletter as an attachment with their own announcements in the email.

Create a website

A website is yet another way to communicate with residents. It can be password protected so only community members have access to the site. It’s a great place to put association documents such as your bylaws, community rules, and calendars of upcoming neighborhood events. It helps build a sense of community and is an added convenience for busy residents to access when they have spare time in their day.

Creating a close-knit community will go a long way in keeping the peace and ensuring residents are well-informed of association happenings.