Sometimes it is overwhelming stepping up to serve your community as a homeowner Board Member. Understanding your obligations as well as common pitfalls is important to make sure you make the most of your volunteer time, serve your community well and avoid the ever-growing “board member/association” call-out on social media platforms.
- Remember the main purposes for having a Homeowners Association.
- Protect/Increase Property Values – purchasing a home is the largest investment someone will make, and the association is formed to help ensure that the property value is protected. When the market is up, homeowners in HOAs should be able to trust that their common areas look well-maintained, they have competitive amenities, and their association has financial stability. With disclosure requirements and overall curb appeal, these three items will help ensure no investment is lost on an HOA owner’s home.
- Common Area Maintenance – the association is designated ‘common area’ in their Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, Easements, Special Warranty Deeds and Plat. It is the association’s responsibility to maintain and improve these areas. This means contracting with industry experts in landscaping, pool maintenance and management!
- Covenant Enforcement – this is often the toughest part of being a Board Member. Nobody enjoys telling their neighbor to mow their lawn, but it is important to fairly exercise the covenants and restrictions of your neighborhood. Remember that people choose to live in an association, and one of the largest ways to protect property values is to ensure consistent dues collections and enforcement of restrictions.
- Create ‘Community Identity’ – community identity is becoming more important to home buyers. With so many associations to choose from, how does someone decide from one to the next? Buyers want a place to call home, and an association/community identity that they are proud to share with family and friends. Forming committees, establishing events and engaging in an active lifestyle program will help accomplish creating a community identity.
- Know your governing documents. You do not need to memorize every section, but you do want to have an understanding of what each document is and how it plays a role in the day-to-day business of your association. Never be afraid to ask your management company for a cheat sheet or overview! It’s their job to know those documents as well!
- Use the Business Judgement Rule. When making decisions for your association, always act on an informed basis, in good faith and in honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the association. If you are unsure, ask an expert. This means employing a management company, consulting an attorney and have CPA-certified reviews of the association’s financials. If legal issues arise in your association, knowing you followed this rule is the first step in avoiding a lengthy legal battle with one of your homeowners.
- Let your management company be the intermediary. It’s easy to want to chat with your neighbor about their open violation or delinquent dues, but it can be a slippery slope. Remember as a Board Member, when you speak publicly, you speak for a whole group of individuals, so it’s important to allow your management company to collect feedback/questions/concerns from homeowners. A good management company will keep consistent communication with their Board Members, so that they can make unified, informed decisions for their homeowners.
Acting as a Board Member can be scary, but by understanding your specific role as an Officer, your association’s role and your management company’s role, you can be successful! Serving your community is a rewarding experience, so get involved!