As a member of your HOA board you have a big responsibility to enhance, maintain and protect your homeowners association. You also have the legal authority to carry out your role, but where do you get this authority?
1. State Statutes
First, most states have statutes such as a condominium act or homeowners association act, i.e. the Davis Stirling Act in California, that legally empowers elected volunteer HOA boards to act on behalf of all owners collectively. Also, your Association is subject to your state’s nonprofit corporation code, which confers on the board the authority to act on the corporation’s behalf.
2. Governing Documents
Second, the association’s governing documents, such as the declaration; bylaws; and covenants, conditions and restrictions, which are recognized by the state as binding documents, bestow legal authority on the Board and define the scope of that authority.
On the flip side, however, the same statutes and documents that give an HOA board legal authority to levy assessments and make rules, also create an obligation for elected board members to act responsibly.
3. Representative Democracy
Community associations are a representative form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people. Much of our country is based on the principles of representative democracy. It starts with organizations like community associations and progresses through our school boards, city governments, county governments, state governments—all the way to the federal government. We vote for a person, or persons, who will act on our behalf.
Some might advocate that an HOA board should not take action without a vote of the members to find out what the people want. That would be counter-productive and nothing would ever get accomplished. The membership voted when you were elected. If Association members were to vote on every issue before a decision was made, there would be no need for a Board, but simply someone to send out ballots and tally results.
However, boards should find out what the members of the homeowners association want in other ways. As an HOA board member you should make time to hear from residents at each board meeting. Participate in the exchange of ideas with the membership. Encourage their involvement and participation.
This opens the doors for two-way communication between the Board and the Association members, and ultimately will create a more harmonious place to live.