Your Florida HOA undoubtedly receives letters to the board from owners in the community. So, how should the board respond and should each letter be responded to? Who should write this response? These questions, and many more, are common among HOA boards who want to manage their responses to owners. Here's a look at what you should and should not do as you respond to letters.
How an HOA Should Respond to Letters to the Board
Every Florida HOA receives letters to the board from community owners. Find out the best way to respond to these letters.
Step One: Check the Governing Documents and State Laws
As always, your first step is to check the governing documents. Most address this issue in some way. Many include specific guidelines for communications of this form. State laws should also be considered, so you may want to speak with a Florida HOA attorney to interpret all applicable Florida condominium laws. In Florida, for example, HOAs are required to respond to letters sent by owners via certified mail.
Look to Policies and Procedures in Place
If the state laws and governing documents don't offer any help, the board should go over the association's policy to resolve conflicts. While it's important to give information to unit owners, it's also necessary to protect the HOA from small claims, lawsuits and any other situation that would require getting a Florida HOA attorney involved. While many firms such as Association Law Group specialize in these situations, it's still best to avoid this type of conflict. Look for ways to resolve conflicts within the community that are both affordable and take up few resources.
Meet and Confer or Board Meetings
In some states, a meet and confer process is required. In other states, however, an association can still use this practice to resolve conflicts. Most owners who write letters do so when they feel like they're being ignored and don't have the opportunity to address issues. Boards should always include a time during every single board meeting for owners to voice their concerns or discuss issues on their mind. Some boards even read aloud the letters they receive at board meetings to address the issue, even if the owner is not present.
What Not to Do
Avoid sending emails to owners to answer questions or address concerns. Even a quick personal email can quickly be viewed as board policy and may have ramifications. If emails are used, they should always be prefaced with a simple statement that the message doesn't represent the board and the information is just personal opinion. Keep in mind responding to each individual letter can simply be fueling the fire, especially in the case of nasty letters. It is usually, however, a good idea to at least send a letter of receipt or acknowledgement.