How To Communicate An HOA Special Assessment

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Communication is key to receiving support for your community’s special assessment

Does your homeowners association community have a capital improvement or unforeseen expense that cannot be covered by monthly dues or back-up reserves? Then it may be time to call for a special assessment. No two words, however, can strike more dread in the hearts of homeowners, which makes passing such an assessment a hard sell. It can be done, however, if communicated properly. Here’s how.

  1. Understand why the special assessment is needed. Put together a clear case on how your community got to this point. Was an issue neglected over the years? Were reserves underfunded or monthly dues not sufficient? Did an unexpected event cause damage that must be repaired? Homeowners will want to know how the community got to this point, so be prepared with answers.
  2. Call in the experts. Pull together a team of advisors—architects, lenders, engineers, realtors—who have the expertise about your issue. Work with them to help communicate the importance of your special assessment project, what the process of repairs will look like and how it will affect the community and value of each homeowner’s property.
  3. Over-communicate. Begin by broaching the need for the project in several editions of your community newsletter. Send all financial and project information, reasoning behind the project and information about possible payment plans to homeowners. Hold a meeting so homeowners can ask questions from your panel of experts and discuss what the project would mean for them and the community. Throughout this process, be understanding of homeowners’ concerns.
  4. Be patient. As a board member, you know the ins and outs of the project and why it’s necessary. But this may be new information to your homeowners, and they’ll need time to process the information and go through the range of emotions that will follow. Unless your special assessment project is an emergency, be prepared to spend three to six months discussing your project before taking a vote.
Source: HOALeader.com, Association Times
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