HOA Management Tips
As a member of an HOA board, you’ll generally be tasked with working with a management company (unless your community relies on the board to manage independently). Together you’re responsible for meeting federal and state laws, upholding the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) of your community, maintaining common areas, collecting fees, and making decisions in the interest of the community and all of its homeowners. So…no pressure.
This volunteer position can be difficult, no doubt, but like most HOA board members, you probably joined the board because you have an interest in keeping your community safe, preserving property values, and learning just how the HOA is run. There is definitely a learning curve associated with managing an HOA, though. Here are a few tips that should keep you on track.
Know the Rules
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably got the rule book when you moved in but failed to do more than skim the CC&Rs. Hey, it’s a lot of reading.
As an HOA board member, you cannot hope to effectively manage your HOA without knowing the rules, so it’s time to read the governing documents. The good news is that an experienced manager can offer you a lot of help, as can board members that have been around longer than you.
Nobody expects new board members to start out knowing everything, but it is imperative that you do your homework and get up to speed as quickly as possible. This will help you to make informed decisions on behalf of your community.
Understand Your Role
If offered, you should definitely participate in orientation programs. HOA board members have very specific roles to play when it comes to managing a community. You have many duties, but you also face some limitations that you need to be aware of.
For example, you may discuss and vote on all kinds of issues in closed board sessions, including hiring vendors for jobs, moving money into investment accounts, changing insurance providers, and sending delinquent homeowner accounts to collections. Is it okay to discuss this business outside of meetings? No – not with other homeowners or even other board members.
In fact, it could be illegal. Although you have some legal protections as a volunteer board member, it is very important to know your role in the management process and understand duties and limitations. Failure to do so could result in serious consequences.
Listen to Experts
You work with a management company for a reason: these professionals have the knowledge and experience to guide you. Chances are you haven’t been trained as a community manager, a landscaper, an accountant, a lawyer, or any number of other professionals an HOA routinely works with.
The point is that you should take the advice of the experts you hire. Ultimately, the board is responsible for making certain decisions for the community. However, you may be held accountable for those decisions down the road, especially if you go against the advice of experts.
As an HOA board member, you’ll be called upon to deal with other homeowners, including fielding complaints, handling delinquencies, fining for infractions, and in some cases assisting in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. Always approach these situations with the mindset that you’re also a homeowner.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of the homeowners you’re working with and ask how you would want to be treated if you found yourself in their place. This perspective can help you to consider all angles, act with compassion, and make the choices that are right for your community.