A condominium, homeowners’ association, or co-op can run like a well-oiled machine with all the moving parts complementing each other and contributing to positive community spirit, growth, and robust property values, while assuring a high quality of life for all residents therein. On the flip side, an association afflicted with apathetic homeowners uninterested in the governing of their own community can see the wheels fall off the moment a crisis arises. And then there’s everything else in between.
In the ideal scenario, everyone would want to get involved in association business, putting the greater good of the community over their own self-interests. While this is hardly an ideal world, there are certain behaviors and practices that a board can embrace and encourage in order to maximize participation. The more encouraged owners or shareholders are to get involved, the more democratic, fair, and efficient the association will be.
Direct and open communication is of utmost importance, not only for basic board functionality, but to reach out to owners and shareholders and make them feel that they have a voice and influence in association business. This dramatically increases the odds that they will want to participate at a greater capacity themselves.
“In our experience, a lack of face-to-face interaction can lead to separation and a feeling of disconnectedness,” says Edward J. Song, Esq., a shareholder with the law firm of Leach Johnson Song & Gruchow, which has offices in Las Vegas and Reno. “A lack of responsiveness from the association to residents’ needs can lead to apathy and a sense of powerlessness.” People who convince themselves that the day-to-day decision-making has no bearing on their lives tend to check out of the process entirely.
An authoritarian board can alienate its constituents. “Sometimes a board acts as if it rules a ‘kingdom’ rather than operating a democracy where all are invited to participate in the community,” says Dennis Kariger, board president of Panorama Towers Condominium Unit Owners Association in Las Vegas. “In those scenarios, the community becomes divided between those who support the board and the decisions it makes versus those who are committed to bashing the board -- even when it gets things right.”