Just as there are different types of Board Members, there are also different types of Owners in a Condo Association. While each category is not a perfect indicator of the types of Owners in a Condo Association, they generally will share several of the characteristics. Learning the differences is helpful in effectively managing your Condo Association.
The Indifferent Owner
An Indifferent Owner may not be a bad person, but they don’t fully understand – or want to understand – what it means to live in a Condo Association. They are unwilling to put in the time to understand Condo governance and how it affects them. As a result they live in a bubble of ignorance of the Association and often lash out whenever that bubble is popped. For example, they break an architectural rule and be shocked when the Association mandates they change something. Unfortunately, you may have a large population – potentially a majority – of Indifferent Owners. A good Board focuses on educating them and making them Informed Owners. Here are some characteristics of an Indifferent Owner:
- Does not know the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs). They didn’t read them when they bought and haven’t looked at them since.
- Does not read up on Condo happenings or news. They have never been to a Board meeting and don’t read the minutes. Ever.
- Does not ask for permission when there are Condo rules that state permission is needed. They usually don’t even know what permission to ask for. Instead they make changes and then may get angry when they get caught.
- Gets angry when there are major projects in the Condo, but doesn’t seek to learn why they are going on, even when the Board works to provide information.
- If there is a Special Assessment, an Indifferent Owner doesn’t read anything and instead may complain to the Board, despite willfully not seeking out information.
- Doesn’t vote in Condo Board elections.
The Informed Owner
The ideal Owner is one that is informed. This class of Owner understands that living in a Condo means living under an Association. They keep relatively up to date on things and generally have the attitude that, “there’s an Association, decent people run it, I only deal with it when I have to.” If there is a major issue, they take the time to get informed and will show up educated and with questions. Unfortunately, Informed Owners are typically a minority of the population in your Condo Association. Traits of the Informed Owner include:
- Is familiar with the Bylaws that matter, knows that the Association can control certain aspects of Owners’ living and is mindful of that.
- Gives the Board a reasonable amount of notice when requesting a change – for example, if they need permission for remodeling, they submit the request several months before the project begins.
- Stays reasonably on top of Condo Association business by going to the annual Condo Association meeting, trying to read monthly Condo meeting minutes regularly and occasionally showing up in person.
- Is not caught off guard by major projects, as they’ve read about them from material the Board provided.
- If there is a Special Assessment, the Informed Owner reviews the documents thoroughly and attends relevant meetings with thoughtful feedback.
The Involved Owner
Involved Owners are those who not only understand the implications of an Association, they also want to be a part of the governance of an Association. They may participate in Condo Committees or ultimately run to become Board Members. They want to foster a sense of community. Sometimes they might go a little overboard, but their participation is generally a good thing. Involved Owners are typically very small percentages of the Association – maybe two to five percent at most. Characteristics of the Involved Owner include:
- Stays on top of Condo news, regularly reading minutes and attending monthly meetings.
- Speaks up at monthly meetings and offers useful input to the Board when appropriate.
- Participates in Condo Committees, volunteering their time for the Association.
- Actively befriends Board members without being overbearing.
- If there is a major project or Special Assessment, the Involved Owner studies up on the issue, takes a thoughtful position and advocates accordingly.
Communities are made up of all kinds of personalities. A transparent Board will naturally enable Owners to go from Indifferent to Informed simply by making information available. The more Owners that graduate the categories to more informed and involved, the better your Association will be. An engaged and active Board fights apathy and makes sure your Board doesn’t break bad. Is your community doing all it can to engage Owners?