HOA Complainers: Put Them To Work

July 31, 2009
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This week's tip comes from a new article that offers four ways to deal with the owners in your condo or homeowners association who constantly complain that the board isn't addressing their pet peeve.

The first technique comes from Luigi Rosabianca, the principal attorney at Rosabianca & Associates in New York City, who advises condo associations and co-ops.

Luigi observed, "Often when you put people to work, they shut up."

Let's say a couple of owners are complaining that your lobby and hallways need new carpeting, paint, and wall coverings, and they insist it will cost only $500 to transform the entire area. You, however, believe your association has more pressing needs and limited funds--and that the improvements these owners want will cost much more than they believe.

"If these people are so committed to the aesthetics of the lobby and hallways," Luigi suggests, "the board could set up an auxiliary committee in charge of changing the lobby and hallways, and one of those people could be in charge of that committee."

"I think it becomes a point of perspective. The owners' perspective is that they see board members in the hallways, and it seems as though the board does nothing. They don't realize how many e-mails, letters, and hours are donated behind the scenes to running the building. Once these people see what's involved by being put to work, they'll change their tune."

With this approach, the board wins no matter what happens. If the owners continue to slack and produce nothing, the next time they complain, you can point out that you're interested in hearing their proposals and wonder when they'll be ready to present them.

If they do the legwork you've asked, you've lessened your burden. In addition, if you're right that the improvements will cost much more than they thought, you've made your point without arguing.

To read three additional techniques for dealing with complaining do-nothings, check out our new article, HOA Board Headaches: 4 Techniques to Quiet Complaining Slackers

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey
President

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