Courtesy of Kelly G. Richardson, Managing Partner of Richardson Harman Ober PC, a law firm in Pasadena, California known for community association advice.
1. Follow the Golden Rule. (paraphrase: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”)
2. Not refer to the HOA or board as “they,” since it is “us.” The directors are also members who pay assessments and volunteer their time.
3. Remember I can’t fire my neighbors. I will find ways to be neighborly.
4. Assume our directors are doing their best as volunteers, and give them benefit of the doubt.
5. Not first assume the board is incompetent or dishonest when we believe it is overspending.
6. Remember that the “my home, my castle” attitude does not work in HOAs. We share the benefits of common interest living, which means we also agree to share the control of our property.
7. Ask questions before criticizing or even accusing.
8. Acknowledge the board may have more information than I do. This doesn’t mean the board is right, but it does mean I might not be ready to form an opinion yet.
9. Take the long view of our property, and support efforts to grow our reserves and maintain our buildings.
10. Read the information our HOA sends to me.
11. Be familiar with our CC&R’s, bylaws and rules. I can avoid confusion and disputes by knowing the use restrictions and rules.
12. Read the association budget and reserve study. We will ask informed questions, particularly about deviations from budget.
13. If I ask to review financial documents, I will not ask for “everything,” and ask only for what I really need, remembering my manager is not a librarian.
14. Insist the board follow the Open Meeting Act, and only handle in closed session the limited items allowed. I will also do all I can to contribute to orderly meetings.
15. Review the posted or published agenda before attending board meetings.
16. Organize my open forum remarks, and understand that the board may not immediately have an answer to my questions or suggestions
17. I will use my open forum time to inform the board, not to argue with them, and afterward open forum I will not interrupt board deliberations.
18. Encourage others attending meetings to behave themselves properly, as we are all neighbors.
19. Join a committee, helping share the load of operating our HOA.
20.If I disagree with the board, I will provide suggestions and information, rather than criticize.
21. Find positive ways to enhance the image of our community.
22. Try to work out disputes with a neighbor before “going legal.” We can always call the attorney next if our efforts fail.
23. Avoid rushing to attorneys when we disagree with the association, but will first talk to a director and will exhaust any possible non-legal approaches.
24. Participate in all member votes, even if only by mailing in my ballot.
25. Join my local Community Associations Institute chapter, and suggest our HOA encourage directors to be members and hire credentialed managers.
26. Find ways to thank our directors and committees for their service to our community… and our manager, too.
27. Follow the Golden Rule.