Following the hand that 2020 dealt us, now is the time to focus on rebuilding our community connections! Let’s work on something that brings us together. New Year’s resolutions tend to be short lived. However, this year’s resolution aim is to strengthen the governance that fosters positive relationships between HOA board members and residents, avoids expensive problems and creates peace with simple efforts that make long lasting results. HOA, the best year yet is here!

Here are seven resolutions for how to make this the best year yet in your community association.

  1. Leave the Pride Aside 

Leave 2020 behind and all the ego that goes with it! Tensions ran high last year. If we let go of pride in HOA disputes, many issues can be more easily resolved instead of escalating into huge conflicts. As an HOA Board member, take an honest look at a situation and acknowledge any personal feelings that may be influencing any decisions. If one’s personal feelings towards a resident is influencing actions, that is the time to step out of that dispute and ask for another Board member to assist.

  1. Make New Resolutions

Hold on, are you saying that the first resolution is to make a resolution?

Yes. If your group is already facing challenges, like a new law passed affecting your HOA or a strange maintenance request, face it head on. Improving how certain types is issues are handled, if not already in your rules, will improve decision making going forward.

Be proactive about issues that might affect your community this year. Do you already have policies addressing medical or recreational marijuana? What about policies addressing renters, or reviewing service animal applications? Are there clearly written rules in regards to outside décor and landscaping that are easy to understand, and not subject to multiple interpretations? Are liability insurances for all vendors on file with your management?

Take some time to look into your crystal ball and prepare on how you will act on these cases before they hit.

  1. Update Documents

Seasoned community association board members and professionals will know that being authorized to pass new resolutions are the one of the biggest hurdles. Bylaws that were written back when your community was created (often ages ago) might not grant you the authority to regulate more modern situations like Airbnb, marijuana dispensaries, or Pokemon Go.

Amending those old documents to more accurately reflect the community as it exists today is a step that must be updated eventually so you might as well address it as soon as possible. Keep in mind the vote requirement you will need in order to amend a pre-existing document. Also, do your research on whether or not the law allows for your change and the impact that change will have on the entire community.

For example, changes to parking might be determined by where the parking power is (Declaration or Bylaws). Do the documents allow you to assign parking, rearrange the locations or change the rules in the manner you wish? Does your jurisdiction’s governing statute make it permissible? Lastly, think fairly the true reasons behind this change. Is this change going to solely to stop a few owners from parking in a certain way, then perhaps this is a bias and not a benefit for the whole community.

  1. Create Committees

Many times, boards are made up of small group of people trying to accomplish it all. The role of the board is to merely ensure all things get done, not to enforce the covenants, draw up new ones, evaluate vendors, communicate with owners, and such all on their own. Especially in today’s era of websites, email and social media, it is very easy to find others who are willing to help. Don’t be shy to post on bulletin boards, Facebook, send an email or post a temporary entryway sign.

Look among your community to recruit help. Have a green-thumb neighbor head up the Grounds Committee. Delegate the document updates to your local parliamentarian and create an Amendment Committee. Appoint someone to take care of the applications to change interior/exterior features to be forwarded on to an architectural review committee. Just because you are on the Board, you don’t have to go it alone. So go ahead and recruit some help!

  1. Know Benchmarks, Goals and Objectives

While every association has goals like “save money,” or “improve timelines on repairs,” not all objectives get met throughout the year. Looking back on 2020, see if you hit your objectives or not. Analyze which areas the board thrived in, which areas missed their mark, and if any contractors lagged behind. The best way to see if these objectives get met this year is to set or refresh them now, identify past roadblocks and keep up accountability as the year goes on!

In order to make an attainable objective, the criteria must be reasonable, obtainable, and well thought-out. Being specific like “fully fund the reserves this year” or even better, “save 8% of revenue each month into reserves”. To ensure thorough results, do not just hope to make repairs, but instead try wording like “Check to determine that all roof leaks are addressed, photographed, and repairs scheduled within X days of reporting and verifying an issue.”

If you follow this resolution in making these goals, by the end of 2021 you will have reliable, objective, tangible data on how you performed well and where to improve. In other words, you will be more successful and equipped for the next year of resolutions.

  1. Learn Something New

No matter if you are a long time resident, a board member, a new neighbor, or the long term property manager, one thing is sure – you do not know it all. So accept that and make 2020 the year you utilize some of the abundant resources available and learn something new about the world of community association. Between webinars and live classes offered by CAI, trainings by local organizations like the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Real Estate Division, or even the more personal, tailored training contracted with Destination Maui, Inc., be sure to go outside your comfort zone this year and enhance your skills and understandings!

  1. Get Involved!

Community decisions will affect you whether you are merely volunteering, attending a meeting, writing an email (even a letter!), or experiencing the community in other ways. Decisions and actions being made will affect you and your home so make the resolution this 2021 to be a contributor to making those decisions great!

Happy New Year everyone!