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How to Properly Manage Difficult Situations With HOA Board Members

August 1, 2021 BLOG Feature

Making decisions for your HOA when you have several personalities and opinions at play can be tricky. Finding harmony amongst your board members fosters an environment of positive change and growth for your association and homeowners. But how do you find that harmony? And what do you do if one (or more) board members aren’t being team players?

Creating a Harmonious Environment

Finding common ground between two people can be hard enough—finding it in a group of people can sometimes seem impossible. Implementing a sound strategy of cooperation, understanding, and communication will help set the foundation for an agreeable board.

1: Make Sure Every Board Member Feels Heard

Nothing brings out the fight in someone more than feeling shut down or dismissed. Each member of the board was elected equally and has ideas (good or not) they want to discuss. Ensuring each member has their say—even if their idea or plan isn’t implemented—will go a long way toward getting their cooperation on other propositions.

2: Give a Clear Definition of Expectations

If your board members don’t fully understand their responsibilities, they’ll become frustrated and thus harder to work with. Having a clearly defined set of expectations for each member will give them a firm foundation, so they can build their ideas from there. This will also give them the parameters they need to work within while planning, so they know their idea follows all the rules and regulations of the association.

3: Treat Them Like Adults

No one likes to be patronized! Your board members ran for their position and were elected based on their knowledge and understanding of the community and its needs. Over-explaining simple concepts, constantly giving unsolicited advice, or pre-judging ideas based on who they come from rather than their actual merit are all ways to cause major internal conflict. Board members will shut down and refuse to work with the team if they feel they are being treated like a child or a novice.

Removing Uncooperative Board Members

No matter how well you set up an environment that fosters cooperation, there is still a chance you will find yourself dealing with a board member who just doesn’t work well with others. At some point, allowing this person to remain in a position of power or authority will become detrimental to the community. So, what (if any) recourse do you have to remove a board member from their position if they are consistently impeding growth?

Knowing the Difference: Board Members vs Officers

First, you’ll need to understand that there is a difference between removing someone from the board altogether versus removing someone as an officer or committee member. Board members are elected by the homeowners within the community, whereas officers and committee members are appointed by the board. If a board member has become impossible to work with or a liability for the community and they hold an office on the board or are part of a specific committee, you can remove them from that position. They’ll still remain on the board, but will have less influence over decisions.

So what do you do if removing them from committees or official positions isn’t enough? What avenues can you take to actually remove them from the board altogether?

Check Your Minimum Standards

Read through your association documents for board member minimum standards. If you can show that the board member in question is not meeting these standards (i.e. attending a certain number of meetings, performing duties set to them by the board, etc.), then you have not only the right, but in many cases the responsibility to remove them from the board. Be sure to read the standards and the removal procedures very carefully to avoid any situation that would give the ousted member cause for retaliation.

Request Their Resignation

A quieter and less volatile approach is to ask the board member to step down. This keeps the details within the confines of the board, allowing them to save face within the greater community. Make sure all of the other board members are in agreement with the request, and that all incidents leading up to the request are documented and provided to the board member.

Wait Until Their Term Expires

Depending on the length of their term as a board member and how soon elections will be, you can opt to allow the board member to finish out their term, with the stipulation that they will not run for the position again. This allows them to save face with the community and requires very little hassle on your part.

Call an Association Vote

As a last resort, you can call for a removal vote. Because board members are voted in by their neighbors within the HOA, they must be voted out by the same people. This route requires following a lot of specific rules and can have a long-lasting aftermath due to bad blood, so you’ll only want to do this if there is no other option.

Your bylaws will outline the procedures for such a vote—whether the vote needs to be unanimous, if a certain number of signatures is required to even schedule a vote, meeting and notification requirements, etc. Be sure to follow these exactly to avoid any potential backlash from the ousted party.

Managing an HOA Board isn’t an easy task. You have multiple people with differing personalities, opinions, and agendas trying to work together toward a common goal. When one member is consistently creating controversy or stalling progress, you may need to take unfortunate steps to remove them from their position of influence.

Need help navigating a sticky situation with your association board, or have more questions about the methods above? Contact us and we’ll be happy to guide you as you work toward the best possible outcome.

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