Do you want to be the best board member you can be? Then you’ve found a goldmine because we asked a seasoned and experienced HOA manager what he hoped all HOA board members would learn early on to help them run an efficient, lawful, and successful homeowners association.
1. Be objective
It’s your responsibility to do what’s best for your community. If the budget needs to be increased because of an unforeseen project, then it needs to be increased for the greater good - even if your neighbor and friend is on a fixed income and doesn’t like the idea.
2. Be supportive
The Board works as a unit. Whether you agree with a final decision or not, if you’re outnumbered by the votes, sometimes you have to call it a day and support the decision.
3. Know the law
The law holds you accountable to make reasonable business decisions and take appropriate action when rules are violated. Even just knowing the basics can help when HOA board members are faced with a homeowner not paying fees or doing something without approval.
4. You don’t have to be an expert in all things
Instead, surround yourself with trusted experts such as a lawyer, reserve specialist, accountant, manager, etc.
5. Become very familiar with your CC&Rs, Bylaws, Rules & Regulations
These are the documents that will direct you in making decisions for your homeowners association. They tell you what the Association is responsible for and what the homeowner is responsible for, dictate how the HOA operates, and the rules to abide by to keep the Association running smoothly.
6. Plan for your reserves
Look closely at the items the Association that are planned for in the reserves. Ask, Is it in compliance with the law? What needs to be disclosed to members? When was a reserve study done? This is especially true for older homeowners associations. Hire the help of a reserve specialist to do the study, and make sure you do an actual walk-through of the Association with them to ensure nothing is missed.
7. Survey the day-to-day contracts of services maintaining the community
Some of these include landscaping, pool upkeep, pest control, or security patrol. Are the contractors doing what their contracts say they will and what the Board wants them to? Do the vendors have proper insurance and is the HOA named? Do you understand the confines of the contract as additionally insured?
8. Communicate well with your community
Open and honest communication is the best way to go when it comes to keeping your community informed about the status of the Association, changes, and expectations. Planning social gatherings provides the opportunity for HOA board members to show their investment to the community and also learn what the community needs, what members of the HOA want, and what their concerns are. Communication and social gatherings include, but definitely aren’t limited to:
- Dinner for the annual meeting
- Community activities such as a barbecue, tennis tournament, or book club
9. Your top priorities are to protect, maintain, and enhance the community
Protecting the Association means understanding the laws, being careful of what you say as a board member, being objective, and surrounding yourself with experts. Maintaining the Association means making short and long term improvements, and keeping the community somewhere people want to live. When an HOA board enhances the community they are upgrading it in some way due to new laws or adding something that isn’t currently part of the Association.
10. Spend the money to hire an HOA manager
Sure, it costs time and money, but it’s time and money well spent. An HOA manager can help the Board understand its authority, where the laws come from, and how to ask good questions. A trustworthy, certified manager knows these things and can provide continued guidance.
Managers generally want to help people. They help your HOA board do its job, limit liability, and help get things done correctly. If you start practicing these 10 things early on with the help of an HOA manager, your homeowners association will be golden!