Residential Real Estate
May 31, 2024

What New HOA Board Members Need to Know: A Comprehensive Guide

Sponsored Content provided by Dave Orr - CEO, Community Association Management Services

Becoming a new board member of a Homeowners Association (HOA) board is both an honor and a responsibility. As a board member, you're entrusted with the stewardship of your community, ensuring its smooth operation and the well-being of its members and residents. Here are some things that will help you to be an effective and informed board member.

Understanding the Duties of Each Board Officer Position
Most HOA boards have a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. These roles are referred to as officers. While the membership votes to elect board members, the board decides among itself who will fulfill officer roles.

  • President: The board president is the community association's leader and spokesperson. They preside over meetings, set agendas, and implement the board's decisions. The president also works closely with the management company and other professionals to keep the community running efficiently.
  • Vice President: The vice president supports the president and steps in when the president is unavailable. This role may also involve overseeing specific committees or projects, providing leadership continuity, and ensuring all board initiatives progress smoothly.
  • Secretary: The secretary is accountable for maintaining the association's official records. This includes taking minutes during meetings, managing correspondence, and ensuring all documentation is accurate and current. The secretary plays a crucial role in keeping the board organized and transparent.
  • Treasurer: The treasurer oversees the financial health of the community. This includes reviewing financial statements, managing budgets, billing and payments, and working with professional managers, accountants, or financial advisors. The treasurer ensures that the community’s finances are in order and assists and supports the board in making sound financial decisions.
Mastering the Community's Financials
Understanding your community's financial situation is essential for making informed decisions. Familiarize yourself with the budget, reserve funds, income statements, and expenditure reports. Regularly reviewing these documents helps ensure financial stability and transparency. It's also crucial to understand the parameters specified by the association’s governing documents and the process for setting and collecting assessments.  Review the community's policies on delinquencies and collections at intervals to ensure homeowners understand them and they are implemented consistently.

Knowing the Governing Documents
The governing documents are the backbone of your HOA, providing the basis of authority for the rules and regulations that guide your community. These typically include the articles of incorporation, plat map, bylaws, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), and rules and regulations. Familiarize yourself with these documents to understand voting requirements, board responsibilities, and homeowner obligations. This knowledge ensures you can make decisions that are compliant with the governing documents.  When deliberating any question or action, always check the governing documents first.

Communicating Transparently and Listening to Owners
Transparent communication is key to building trust and fostering a collaborative environment within your community. Regularly update homeowners about board decisions, upcoming meetings, and important projects through newsletters, emails, or a community website. It's equally important to listen to residents' opinions and concerns. Encouraging feedback and addressing issues promptly helps maintain a positive relationship between the board and the community.

Understanding Proper Meeting Procedures
Effective board meetings are well-organized and productive. Here’s what you need to know:
  • Agendas: Create a detailed agenda before each meeting. It should include a call to order, approval of previous minutes, committee reports, unfinished business, new business, and an open forum for homeowners. Distribute the agenda to board members and homeowners in advance.
  • Minutes: The secretary should take minutes to record decisions and votes. The minutes should be concise and accurate, and they should be approved by the board at the next meeting before being made available to the community.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Follow Robert’s Rules of Order to ensure meetings run smoothly and efficiently. Robert’s Rules outlines the rules, tactics, procedures, and etiquette for formal meetings.
Fulfilling Your Fiduciary Duty
Board members serve the association and the community's best interest. This means exercising care, loyalty, and good faith in all board activities. One important aspect of this duty is knowing when to utilize outside professionals:
  • Attorneys: Consult with an attorney for legal matters, ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and governing documents.
  • Accountants: Work with accountants to review financial statements and ensure accurate financial reporting. It is also crucial to have an experienced certified public accountant assist with the association’s taxes and audits.
  • Insurance Agents: Engage with insurance agents to secure adequate coverage for the community and protect against potential liabilities.
  • Engineers: consult with qualified specialists when addressing needed repairs, capital improvements, or infrastructure projects.  These may include engineers, general contractors, reserve study specialists, or certified trades-people 
  • Management Company: Collaborate with the management company for day-to-day operations, vendor management, financial reporting, and expert advice on community management.
Becoming a new HOA board member is a significant responsibility, but you can positively impact your community with the right knowledge and approach. By understanding your roles and duties, mastering the community's financials, knowing the governing documents, communicating transparently, following proper meeting procedures, and fulfilling your fiduciary duty, you will help ensure a well-managed and harmonious community.

About Community Association Management Services
In business since 1991, CAMS is North and South Carolina’s premier community management company. With experienced local managers in each of its nine regions, CAMS provides innovative solutions to the community associations it serves. Additionally, CAMS was featured on Inc. Magazine’s 2022 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. To learn more, visit www.camsmgt.com/choose-cams.
 

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