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coffee-desk-notes-workspace“How do you get them to read?” Sterling Jenkins, CEO and Co-Founder at Gladly, who has both lived in and managed community associations, recently posed this question to the Community Associations Institute group on LinkedIn. Mr. Jenkins acknowledged the importance of community association’s governing documents, but that so few people who live in associations actually read them.

Creative Suggestions

Some of the responses to Mr. Jenkin’s posted question include:

  • Holding informational sessions
  • Giving a quiz on the governing document provisions, with prizes
  • Posting top 10 violations lists on the association website and in other publications
  • Including a searchable copy of the governing documents on the association’s website.

These are all excellent ideas. Some other thoughts are to make it fun by creating a “game show” style or trivia game to play before or after a membership meeting (since people will be there anyhow), or to include short facts in a “did you know” format at the bottom of newsletters or other mailings.

The question of how to get the members to read the governing documents is worth considering. How much less often might the association management hear: “the association can’t tell me what to do with my property,” if everyone actually knew what is in the documents before a violation occurs? Having an educated membership who knows what is covered in their documents may help to reduce the amount of disputes and enforcement actions altogether.

Legal Requirements

On one hand, Florida law requires new Board members of both condominium associations and homeowners’ associations to certify in writing to their association that he or she has read the governing documents and will work to uphold such documents and policies to the best of his or her ability. In lieu of this, the Board members can obtain an educational certification, which covers several essential association topics. On the other hand, association members have nothing requiring them to read the governing documents or take any educational classes, although they are deemed to be on notice of the association’s governing documents when they take title to their property.

Key Take Away

In order to have a membership that actually knows and understands the association’s rules and restrictions, perhaps it is worthwhile to consider some creative ways to encourage the membership to become familiar with their governing documents. In the end, it may help to reduce the number of violations, saving the Association time and money and encouraging a neighborly atmosphere in the community.