Congratulations! – you’ve just been elected to the board. So now the big question: What do I do next? Many new board members run for a position on the board with goals or a platform, the following are some tips to help ensure your success!
1. “Know Your Role!”
If you understand your position as a director completely, you’ll be much more impactful during your term. As a director, your job is to protect the interests of your fellow homeowners, maintain/increase property values, and preserve the quality of life for your community. Upon electing you as a director, it is important to leverage your personal experience into a specific role within the board.
The board is led and managed by the President, they are the “go-to” member of the board, the person who communicates direction to management and usually leads the board of directors meetings. This role should be reserved for those members who are well-versed with all governing documents (See Step 2 below), have a good understanding of the community and it’s residents and has ability to conduct the business of the association in a fair and unbiased direction.
Just like the executive branch of our government, every President needs a good Vice-President. This person shares many of the same responsibilities as the President and can step into the leadership role in the Presidents absence.
Next, in order is the Board Secretary, who is charged with maintaining association records. An ideal Secretary is someone who is organized and detail oriented.
Finally, is the Board Treasurer, whose focus is the association’s finances. This role should be reserved for those who may have experience as an auditor, CPA, bankers or other financial experience. Treasurers should work closely with management to help prepare the annual budget for the association.
Many or all duties of Secretary and Treasurer can be designated to the association’s management team, but it is always good practice for directors who request these positions to have a working knowledge and understanding of their duties.
2. “Do Your Homework!”
The next step to being a successful board member is to familiarize yourself with the governing documents for your association. One of the most important documents to understand is your community’s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (or CC&R’s), which help define uses and restrictions and outlines the rights of owners and their obligations to the association.
Next, you’ll want to review your Articles of Incorporation, this is the legal document that creates the corporation as an entity. It also defines the required number of board directors, powers of the board and more.
Board power and authority is further defined in your association’s bylaws. Which will designate election procedures, quorums and board duties.
Finally, know your association’s rules and regulations, these are policies drafted and adopted by board of directors which can be updated and amended by a majority vote of the board. These rules should help guide the association and clarify anything that may be ambiguous in the CC&Rs. It is important to note that your rules and regulations must be in accordance with all state laws and adhere to all of your associations governing documents.
3. Keep HOA Meetings Relevant!
During board meetings it is important to keep the meeting relevant and complete the required business of the association. Disorderly meetings can actually cause more problems than it solves. There is certainly a method to How To Run A HOA Meeting, and its important to make sure that these meetings are well governed to ensure success.
Boards should always designate a meeting chair. This person leads the meeting and helps the rest of the board and attendees stay on agenda. This position is usually reserved for the President or Secretary, but any board member can chair the meeting.
It is the job of the chair to defer irrelevant discussions before they consume the meeting. All board members should assume responsibility for maintaining continuity of the meeting and that means keeping cross-talk and unrelated conversations to a minimum. This can be achieved by distributing agendas or reading agenda topics at the beginning of the meeting. Boards may also restrict introduction of non-agenda items during meeting.
It’s also important to keep your meetings formal so that the minutes of the meeting are clear record of actions taken. If a board member would like to take a vote on an item, they must make a “motion” that is then seconded by another member. Once an item has been seconded, the rest of the board can vote accordingly. All meetings require minutes to be recorded and kept. For open sessions, minutes are to be archived and available at the request of any member of the association. For a complete list of what should be included within your meeting’s minutes, pick up a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order.
It is good practice for the chair to sum up the meeting at the end before making a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Lastly, do not tolerate disruptive behavior. The board has the right to conduct association business in a clear and concise way without unruly participants. Boards may ask disruptors to leave the meeting, if the attendee refuses – boards can adjourn the meeting earlier to be held at another date or in executive session. However, it is important to remain as transparent as possible and should refrain from relying on executive meetings for decisions that may be more apt to be discussed and voted on in an open session.
4. Participation and Volunteers
The board of directors should not have to bear the weight of all research or decisions, and it helps the rest of the membership feel involved when members of the association help advise and craft recommendations within the community.
Along with making your job easier, it also helps disavow accusations from homeowners that a board may be operating without transparency.
We recommend that boards create committees to help with duties of the association. Boards can establish two types of committees, standing committees like an architectural or landscape committee that meet regularly to discuss and advise on the ongoing operations, and special committees, which are established on a temporary basis, usually for a specific project or purpose.. Remember that committees report to the board and provide their findings and recommendations in writing. It is still the board’s duty to vote on any finding or recommendation by a committee.
There’s much more to know about committee formation and management, so look to your governing documents or talk to your community association management company for help.
5. Contract A Good Management Company.
If you’re fortunate enough to already have an experienced and responsive management company, they will be a great resource to help you adjust to your new role.
It is important that you collaborate with your designated manager so you can maximize the experience and resources they can offer.
As part of their services, the management company should support and advise you and the rest of the board. They are also responsible for adhering to your association’s policies and ensuring communication to all homeowners and residents.
A great management company can also assist with your association’s financial management and annual budgeting, along with maintaining records for the required amount of time and connecting you to additional expertise when you need it.
For more information or to request a proposal for management, contact Core Association Management, Southern California’s premier community association management company.