Joining the Board of your HOA is a great opportunity to support volunteerism in your association, lead by example, and work hard to make your HOA productive, responsive, and accountable.
It can be immensely rewarding, but also a bit overwhelming. If you are a new board member, we have some tips for how to settle in and make a big difference quickly.
Get to Know Your Governing Documents
Your first move should be to get familiar with the governing documents for your association. Take some time to read and absorb the Declaration or Master Deed, which includes the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (or CC&R’s), and sets forth the responsibilities and authority of the association. It also outlines the rights and responsibilities of owners in the community.
Read the Articles of Incorporation as well. This is the legal document that creates the association as an entity. It defines how many directors the corporation has and what the functions of the Board are. Check your bylaws and get familiar with all of the rules and regulations of the association. You should have read those when you moved in, but you’re looking at them from a different perspective, now.
Know Your Role and the Board’s Role
Basically, your job is to protect the best interests of homeowners, help preserve the value of the homes in your community, and improve the quality of life of residents. Most Boards have a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. There may be additional leadership roles as well. Figure out where you fit into the organizational chart, and what your specific duties will be. You’re part of a team, and no one board member has greater authority than another. Keep your policies, procedures, rules and regulations easily accessible, and follow them at all times.
Focus on the Importance of Communication
Transparency and communication are important to a Board’s credibility within the community. No one likes being kept in the dark, and this is especially true inside a homeowners association. Commit to keeping your residents informed and educated. Let them know that their opinions matter. This contributes to a sense of community and gives your entire Board a sense of respectability that you’ll need to establish and enforce rules.
Board Meetings Need to be Meaningful and Well-Attended
Board meetings are traditionally dreaded, but they don’t have to be painful. Instead, make your meetings productive and do what you can to increase attendance. If you and your fellow board members can be prepared, organized, and open to the entire community, you’ll have better meetings. Stick to your agenda and keep the meetings short. No one should have a platform to take up too much time. Implement and enforce time limits for comments from homeowners.
Stick to parliamentary procedures in your meetings. This provides structure. At the end of every meeting, the chairperson must read out loud the summary of all the decisions made and what the next steps are. Everyone should leave the meetings with a full understanding of everything that was discussed, agreed on and the next steps.
Plan for the Long Term
As a new board member, you’re contributing to what your community will become in the future. You need to take this responsibility seriously. How can you make things better where you live? Coordinate with fellow board members and talk to your neighbors. Discuss plans for the future and put together a budget that will support those plans. Brainstorming is an important responsibility when you’re on the Board.
Use All Available Tools and Resources
Experienced board members should help to acclimate you to the culture of your HOA Board. You can talk to former board members and gather as much wisdom and experience as you can.
Professional tools and resources are also available. If your HOA isn’t already working with a property management company, it might be a good time to consider it. This will make a huge impact on what you’re able to accomplish.
Commit to Accountability and Character
Board membership has its challenges, but when you decide what kind of impact you want to have and then you set about achieving those goals, you’ll have a successful term as a board member. Make sure you stay honest, open, and accountable. Remain calm and professional, even when you’re challenged or attacked for your views. You’ll have to put the needs of the entire community over your own desires. That speaks to character.
If you’d like to learn more about the work we do with HOA communities in Oakland and the surrounding areas, please contact us at Prime Property Group.