By Erik Robinson, CMCA, AMS
Moving into a community association, especially if you’ve never lived in one before, may seem daunting. There’s a lot to know—from governance, operations, and assessments to rules, architectural standards, amenities, and more. A well-crafted welcome packet can help simplify new residents’ lives.
The welcome packet is a vital tool for making a good first impression, cultivating positive feelings toward the community, and potentially getting someone involved as a volunteer down the road. Its contents will depend on the community, its features, and what the most important things a new owner should understand.
Here are a few relatively standard items that should be included in an association welcome packet:
Welcome letter. This general greeting from an association representative typically contains contact information, assessment amounts, and frequency and payment remittance instructions. It also directs owners to the association’s website, if it has one.
Community rules and regulations. Provide a brief and broad overview of the rules and regulations. Invite owners to seek more details in the association’s governing documents or to talk to an association representative about them.
Board and committee makeup. Illustrate the board’s structure, its directors, as well as existing committees and their members. Offer new owners a transparent look at the community’s governance. Part of this document also should include who to contact in the event an owner is interested in volunteering.
Amenity information. Does your community have a clubhouse, pool, tennis courts, or fitness center? Outline the operational hours, reservation system, rules, and other pertinent information. Help new owners understand what a large portion of their assessment funds and how to use those amenities.
Owner contact sheet. Ask new owners to fill out a form so the association can communicate with them. Compiling reliable email addresses from contact sheets for your association members makes getting information out much easier.
After developing your community’s welcome packet, ask yourself what other information would be useful to new homeowners, such as what assessments pay for and the community’s policies on short-term rentals. A series of FAQs can fill information gaps and can easily be written in a document or on the association’s website, if applicable.
Taking these simple steps will help new owners understand their rights and responsibilities—and may prevent a few conflicts down the road. They’ll also feel like they’re part of a friendly, welcoming community.
Erik Robinson is a senior community manager with Aperion Management Group, AAMC, in central Oregon. email@example.com
>>Read more about welcoming residents into community association living in “Welcome Home” from Common Ground™ magazine’s May/June 2020 issue.