If your HOA has never had a neighbor dispute, congratulations and please share your secret, or plan on raising the price of the real estate because everyone wants to live there. Neighbor to neighbor disputes are inevitable, but getting ahead of them and coming to a quick resolution limits the negative effects. Plus it helps each homeowner involved in the dispute move on and build up the community instead of break it down.
The ideal approach is to have the owners make every attempt to resolve the issue themselves. It may seem simple, but just like letting siblings work out their differences, if your homeowners understand it’s on them to work out the conflict instead of running to the Board or manager, it could make for quicker more peaceful compromises. However, Boards and managers shouldn’t totally ignore conflicts in hopes that owners will resolve them all. There are a few ways an Association can make this dispute resolution possible.
Introductions and Building Community.
Board members should take the first step. Get out in the community and learn the names of your neighbors; introduce yourself and start a chain reaction that invites others to visit with the neighbors around them. Hint: you must be proactive and encourage others to be proactive as well. With everyone’s busy schedules, meeting neighbors doesn’t always happen by accident.
HOAs should engage their community with a spirit of hospitality. New homeowners moving into your Association is the perfect opportunity to do something right away to welcome them. Form a Welcoming Committee to greet new neighbors. Spending just $5 or $10 on a flower pot, a welcome mat, or a picture frame can make someone feel special. Enlist help from local vendors for coupons or gift cards. Even a simple greeting card, refrigerator magnet, favorite recipes, or a map with local “hot spots” can be effective.
Initiate community events that bring neighbors together. Use the community clubhouse or meet at a local coffee shop. Start a book club, play card or board games, host a barbeque, plan a stargazing event, or have a cookie exchange.
Keep in mind, the building community approach to neighbor dispute resolution will take some time and may not yield immediate results, but the bottom line is; invest a little bit of time into community gatherings, have neighbors get know each other and learn how to interact with each other, and it may just prevent several potential conflicts later on.