Running Homeowner Associations Like Family Business
by Richard Thompson
While homeowner associations are clearly business enterprises, some feel they should be run and have the feel of healthy family…a kinder, gentler corporation. But even families have to deal with their internal issues and the outside world in order to survive and prosper.
For example, homeowners that undertake remodeling must deal with bids, contracts, know how to negotiate, deal with problems in contractor performance, etc. Budgeting for short and long-term expenses, managing cash flow and bank accounts, paying taxes, understanding financial statements related to investments and net worth, purchasing insurance, etc., are things that families and homeowner associations alike must deal with. Ditto for managing physical assets like roofing, decks, paint and other things that require repairs and preventive maintenance and periodic replacement.
Healthy families have rules, duties, mutual expectations of courtesy and consideration, and accountability amongst members. These things may be unwritten, but still play a significant role in day-to-day life, just as with homeowner associations. Some families function via consensus and have family meetings, processes common with associations. Further, family members require education and training, just like boards and committee members.
Accomplishing objectives and maintaining harmony requires listening skills, compassion and the powers of logic and persuasion. Dictatorial, selfish and abusive treatment produces the same negative results in both environments. And there are unpleasant extremes in both environments — Jimmy Cagney in the lead role of the movie “One, Two, Three” ran his family just like he ran his business. His domineering style worked with the business but not the family.
Perhaps the most notable distinctions between homeowner associations and families are assessment collections and the use of professional overseers. Although with the latter, some say that is why God created in-laws.