The sky appears to be falling, Covid-19 is the topic of the day, all under the dark shadow of a faltering economy. Many of us are under mandatory orders to stay home and to practice ”social distancing.” Kids are home from school, and parents are understandably under stress. Despite the bleak outlook at this time, we will get through this sooner or later, and life will return to normal.
One overlooked aspect of HOAs and condos is the social aspect: the HOA is a collection of owners, and one purpose of an HOA is to own or regulate its property for the use and enjoyment of its members. HOAs can and should support their members through social interaction and the implementation of programs intended to foster neighborliness and camaraderie.
Now might be a good time to focus on the future. Boards and owners should consider what new social activities can be put in place once the social distancing subsides. Can a neighborhood pool party be planned? What about a meet-and-greet at the clubhouse? Or, if the community lacks these types of common areas, what about asking owners if they’ll allow the HOA to host a meet and greet in a handful of yards and driveways? All of us will benefit from social interaction when life returns to normal.
Many communities are woefully lacking in the social department, and the “Social Committee” is foreign to many HOAs. Boards can and should appoint volunteers to plan community events. The governing documents in many associations authorize the HOA to spend community funds toward social events that benefit the community, and the Social Committee could be granted a budget to spend on community events.
The board’s use of committees is limitless. Some communities choose to have a beautification committee, whose purpose is to advise the board about plant and maintenance recommendations for the common areas. Or a board could appoint committees for each social event, such as a “Summer Pool Party Committee”. Committees serve at the direction and pleasure of the board, and the board can tailor the committee’s composition and authority to meet its specific goals.
Communities should plan out their goals now, and when this crisis recedes, those goals remain. This may be a community’s perfect time to ask volunteers (by phone or email, of course) to form committees to plan out post-virus initiatives. While parents sidelined by school closures may not remember algebra well enough to help their kids with their assignments, those parents probably still remember how to host a party.
Members can sometimes be heard saying, “what has my HOA done for me?” This may be an ideal opportunity to answer the question.
ABOUT BEN KARB
In his HOA and condominium practice, Ben regularly advises HOAs and condominium associations across a broad spectrum of issues, including the interpretation of covenants, contractual matters, and collection of assessments. He routinely attends membership meetings and assists communities with the ever-difficult process of amending their governing documents. He has formed numerous HOAs and condominium associations, and regularly drafts and amends Declarations and corporate documents for his clients.
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