How To Handle Complaints Like an HOA Management Pro in 5 Easy Steps

Resolving homeowner complaints quickly and professionally is an important part of running a successful Tacoma, WA, HOA. Even with the best-planned and most well-run community, residents will occasionally bring forward issues or grievances. When this happens, it’s important to have a plan for handling the complaint in the most effective, efficient, and professional way possible. Here are five easy steps for handling resident complaints like a community management pro.

1. Acknowledge Their Complaint

The first step in handling a complaint is always to acknowledge it. Even if the complaint might not be valid, it’s important to treat all complaints with respect and not dismiss them out of hand. Reacting poorly or unprofessionally to a resident can often make them more angry and make the situation worse. By lending an ear, you’ll not only calm their reaction, but sometimes the act of listening in and of itself will be a satisfactory resolution for the resident.

Acknowledge that you have heard the resident’s complaint, and let them know you take it seriously. Don’t make any promises as to a resolution, but it can be beneficial to offer a response timeframe, as this can ease tension and help resolve the issue more quickly.

2. Check Local Laws

Once you’ve received the complaint, the next step is to investigate whether any local or state laws are relevant to the issue. There may already be legal guidelines related to the complaint which, if overlooked, could make resolving the issue more difficult.

For example, if the complaint is about noise, there may be noise ordinances or construction laws in your area that would apply. Before making any decisions, ensuring that you’re familiar with applicable laws is extremely important.

3. Check Your Governing Documents

If the law is not helpful, check your governing documents for any relevant rules or regulations. While the law may not cover noise curfews, for example, your governing documents may have an existing rule about loud noises after a certain hour.

Seeing if the complaint is in violation of any of your community’s rules can help clarify the issue as well as identify any inadequate or outdated rules that may need to be updated. In many instances, the complaining resident may even refer you to the specific rule or document related to their issue.

4. Check with Your HOA Management Company

If the complaint cannot be handled by the HOA itself — whether the rule is too vague or there are no relevant rules altogether — it may be necessary to contact your HOA management company. HOA management firms can provide an objective evaluation of the complaint and offer support. 

Contacting your HOA management company can be a beneficial first step in the process, as they may already have experience with similar issues and can provide helpful advice. They may also have the best perspective in coming up with a win-win resolution due to their objectivity and third-party role.

5. Clearly & Quickly Communicate the Resolution

After consulting local laws, community governing documents, and your HOA management firm, you’ll need to deliver the resolution to the complainant. It may not always be an answer the resident wants to hear, but regardless, it’s important to deliver the news clearly and in a timely manner. Making the resident wait for their answer is only likely to upset them more, leaving them more dissatisfied with the response, regardless of who it favors.

Deliver the response with empathy and patience. Keep their perspective in mind, and always prioritize a calm and diffused situation rather than doing anything that may further upset them or rile them up. Offer an explanation of the resources you consulted and how you’ve arrived at this resolution to appeal to their sense of logic and fairness for the community.

If the complaint involves more than one resident, all relevant parties should be informed of the outcome so they can understand their rights and responsibilities. It’s also important to listen to feedback, as this can help identify any areas of improvement to help prevent similar issues from arising in the future.

If you want to spend less time resolving disputes and more time focusing on your Tacoma, WA, community’s big picture, you’ll benefit from an HOA management company. HOA management firms handle the nitty-gritty of daily operations, from vetting vendors to collecting dues, so you can spend more time on the important stuff. They also serve as a reliable consultant for financial and legal matters, so you can reduce your liability when navigating tricky neighbor disputes. 

If you’d like to find out more about HOA management companies such as The Management Trust and exactly how we can benefit your Tacoma, WA, community association, give us a call today at 253-472-0825 or fill out our online contact form today.