Apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Since the very nature of a homeowners association is that it is operated by the members of the association, the effects of member apathy can be devastating to the association. Notwithstanding the negative impact that member apathy has on a homeowners association, unfortunately most homeowners associations are confronted with member apathy issues.
Operating a homeowners association requires involvement and interactions between board members and their designated agents, such as property managers, and the homeowner members of the association. Members must never lose sight of the fact that they are the ones who are responsible for electing the board members, who are also members of the association, and voting on many crucial matters of concern to the association. Without the homeowners and their involvement in the association, the association would not exist. Thus, when an association becomes plagued by member apathy, it is destined to experience problems.
To avoid becoming plagued by member apathy, it is critical for associations to help their members understand the importance of their role in the association and encourage their active involvement in the association. Effective ways to minimize member apathy and promote member involvement in the homeowners association include:
- Board of Directors Transparency. Association members need to be kept informed about what is going on within their association. Boards should let members know about their plans for repairs and improvements to common areas, actions that are pending, how assessments are being utilized and the associations finances.
- Encourage Involvement in the Association. Association boards should implement practices that encourage association members to become involved whether its by serving on the board or a committee, or volunteering in some capacity that assists the association. Many members dont know how they can contribute to the Association so they should be provided with information and details about committees and the work that they do to inspire member involvement.
- Plan Special Events. Association members need to feel like they are part of the association and what they have to say is important. Planning special events, which could be business-oriented, or a holiday party, enables association members to get to know one another, interact, and share their thoughts, and develop relationships. This natural process breeds more involvement in the Association.
- Recognize Member Contributions. It is important for members to know their efforts are appreciated. Associations should recognize member dedication and contributions to the community. This can be accomplished through comments at board and membership meetings, newsletter articles, and website postings.
Homeowners associations that fail to promote member involvement in the association will ultimately suffer the consequences of member apathy. Member apathy generally evolves from members feeling a lack of community and results in a disconnect between the members and the association. The disconnect affects interpersonal relations and fosters distrust and hostility that impacts the ability of the association to effectively operate. By contrast, the most successful communities that are governed by a homeowners association have members that share a sense of purpose or common goals that bring the members together.