Openness. Honest communication. Accountability. People respond positively to these words because they convey fairness - a trait that we are trained to understand and seek out as young children. So it is no surprise that these words stand at the very heart of the definition of Transparency in business.
A very large part of why CAM Management companies get hired to manage a community is to provide transparency to the Board and to the members of the community. Most management companies are really great at the transparency to the board portion. They provide regular accounting reports and keep the board up to date on delinquent owners and collection statuses.
Where things tend to go sideways is in the transparency to the homeowners, and it's why so many homeowners are so negative toward CAM Managers and HOAs in general. They perceive that they are being treated unfairly, and they absolutely do not like it.
One state that has tried to bridge the gap between the homeowner's perception and the reality is California. The Davis Stirling Act in the California Civil Code requires frequent and regular communications with homeowners at every step in the delinquency process as a way to keep homeowners as informed as possible when there are potential fines or charges coming down the pike.
Three form letters do the heavy lifting for California association managers: The Notice of Lien (when the dues are unpaid and legal action is imminent) Notice of Intent to Charge (when a board hearing is required due to damages to common area) and Decision / Notice of Charge (when a hearing is completed, and a fine is levied against the owner). With each of these letters, homeowners will be informed not just that they will be charged, but also what options they have to dispute the issue, and exactly how they can resolve it.
While you may not be managing communities in California, it's still a pretty great idea to incorporate an extra touch of transparency into your management by adding communications like these into your standard process.
In our new California Civil Code Compliance Guide, we provide samples of these three form letters for California Managers. Now, we are ready to share those sample letters with everyone! Simply download the letters below, open them in your word processor and edit for your specific needs. Be sure to have a legal representative look them over before you send to any homeowners.
Note: For TOPS users, these letters are ready for import directly into your Enhanced Form Letter program. Simply copy and paste the content into a new form letter, customize the letter, verify the merge codes and you're ready to go!
Transparency makes your management services seem more professional and conveys fairness to homeowners, helping to close the gap between homeowner perception and reality.