- Joe Wise
Who’s Meddling with Your HOA Contractors?
There seems to be at least one in every neighborhood. The neighbor who feels the need to mind your business, other neighbors’ business, and the association’s business. When vendors are working in your community, Meddler wants to direct the work or at least give an opinion about what’s being done. The Board should establish a few prevention rules before Meddler gets too involved in the association’s business.
Most meddlers consider themselves knowledgeable and deem it their responsibility to “help” people understand how to do things better, more efficiently, less costly, etc. No one person is an expert in everything, but meddlers feel that they have valid information that needs to be shared. However, a Meddler’s direction is rarely needed or heeded. Instead, it creates a no-win situation for vendors, association committees and others in the neighborhood. Here are a few tips to curb this Meddler behavior.
Does Meddler have extra time? Perhaps Meddler has recently started working part-time, stopped working or had another lifestyle change that resulted in extra time. There’s always plenty to do in a homeowner association, so ask for some help with a specific task that will keep Meddler busy doing something productive. Then, there’s less time to interfere with maintenance and other HOA issues.
Are homeowners aware of HOA responsibilities? Take this communication opportunity to remind all owners about their responsibilities and the areas that are managed by contractors and vendors. Developing a simple responsibility matrix with topics and names can help set expectations and ensures owners know what is expected of them. A matrix can also include names of point persons for vendor management, and specify that all vendor communication must come through the designated point person.
Do vendors know the chain of command? When multiple people provide input and/or direction to a contractor, it almost always leads to misunderstandings. Creating a maintenance process that includes a vendor point person can streamline vendor communications. It’s also important to include a channel for owner requests and feedback to help curb owner communication with the contractor. Share the process with vendors so that they know that direction comes only from their point person, and they can help you maintain control.
Do HOA policy documents spell out vendor communication? Most associations develop policies that reference communication with vendors and contractors, but they may be vague. Creating or revamping vendor communication guidelines is time well spent by the HOA Board, even if you don’t have a Meddler in your midst. Include details about how homeowners, point person and Board members work and communicate with vendors. Ask for input from homeowners, and then communicate and enforce the guidelines.
Consistently enforcing vendor communication guidelines is key to managing a Meddler’s behavior. Old habits die hard, so expect to remind owners (even the ones who aren’t meddlers) more than once to follow the guidelines. With the right processes in place and consistency on the part of the Board and management, your HOA Board can control vendor communication.
Wise Property Solutions is East Tennessee’s only Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC®). As the region’s leader in community association management, the firm is committed to the industry’s best practices and continuing professional development. Wise Property Solutions’ certified and highly trained property managers empower well-organized and efficient communities. The firm maintains offices in both Knoxville and the Tri-Cities.