There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our society in countless ways. The hardships, the losses, the adjustments, the changes—some things will never be the same as they were prior to March 2020. As a matter of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected community associations. Perhaps in many respects there is a “new normal.” But as the dust begins to settle, could some of those changes be positive? Let’s explore.
First, board members, community managers, and residents adapted quickly to tackle the pandemic’s numerous challenges. Community leaders made difficult, often time-sensitive, decisions concerning face masks, amenity closures, and in-person gatherings.. Board members, community managers, and residents communicated via emails, conference calls, and virtual meetings, even when in-person meetings were put on pause. Most residents continued to pay their assessments on time, understanding how important those funds are for maintenance, repair, and reserves. There’s a saying: “Teamwork makes the dream work.” With safety at the forefront of those decisions, many owners have expressed a newfound appreciation for what it means to be part of a community association.
Second, the pandemic highlighted necessary changes to community association governing documents. Unable to attend in-person meetings, some associations opted to meet electronically, vote electronically, and use electronic proxies. Many of those associations reported impressive turnout and learned that members prefer to attend meetings virtually. Those that could not meet electronically due to limitations in their governing documents explored and passed amendments. These tangible changes sparked progress.
Third, communities learned that they could overcome obstacles including social-distancing requirements, face-mask restrictions, and stay-at-home orders. Community association leaders worked diligently to protect residents, including ensuring common spaces were cleaned in accordance with governmental guidelines and negotiated contracts for essential services. As a result, many projects were completed during the pandemic. In other words, association operations continued forward even while many other aspects of life seemed uncertain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting impact on community association life. There is no denying the terrible toll the pandemic has taken. However, many boards have learned some good lessons as a direct result of the pandemic that will benefit community associations.