HOA’s are compulsory organizations created by a developer to manage and maintain certain amenities of a development that the City will not accept responsibility to maintain such as entrance signage, ornamental parks and ponds, boulevard landscaping, etc.
Volunteering on your condominium or homeowner association board (HOA) is a valuable and rewarding experience. Many see it as an opportunity to serve their fellow neighbors while protecting the assets of the community they live in. But it’s serious business, and it’s not a task that should be taken lightly. As a volunteer leader, there are certain things you need to understand to be a successful and respected leader in your community, including understanding the governing documents, your role on the board, a variety of governance issues, the do’s and don’ts in holding meetings and how to effectively communicate with residents.
The Governing Documents
Although every community is different, the governing documents typically include:
Articles of Incorporation – the Articles are filed with the secretary of state and are brief, containing necessary information about the association: name, location, and its purpose.
Bylaws – the Bylaws are important. They describe how the association is run, its rights and responsibilities, they set the voting rights and procedures and contain rules for things such as how to call a meeting, determining assessment amounts and laying out the procedure for creating the annual budget.
Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) – the CC&Rs are the King of the governing documents. They are the most comprehensive and the most significant of all the documents. They describe what land is subject to governance, as well as outline the common areas of the community that are owned by the association.
Most notably, they contain use restrictions of the common areas and the use restrictions of each owner’s property. They speak to the Associations authority and obligations, and they define the rights and responsibilities of the homeowners. Most CC&Rs will also include the procedures for passing amendments. Most state laws require the CC&Rs be recorded in the same county where the development is built. A copy must also be given to a homebuyer before purchasing the home.
Rules and Regulations – general rules of the community are usually part of the CC&Rs. However, the association will adopt new rules that are deemed necessary to maintain the value of the development and also to do what’s best for the common good.
Your Role on the Board
President. The president leads at all meetings, executes contracts, assumes charge of the day-to-day administration and serves at the will of the board of directors.
Vice President. The vice president is vested with all the powers required to perform the same presidential duties in the absence of the president. These powers are not inherent; he may only act for the president when the president is absent or unable to act.
Secretary. The secretary is the custodian of most of the official records of the association and handles making those records available to members of the association. He is also responsible for keeping and maintaining a record of all meetings of the board and the membership.
Treasurer. If the secretary is the custodian of the records, the treasurer is the custodian of the funds. The treasurer’s duties include overseeing the people who manage the funds, ensuring financial records are maintained accurately, and coordinates the development of the annual budget.
Bringing a Meeting to Order
A Parliamentary approach has been proven to be an effective method for conducting meetings. Associations using parliamentary procedure follow a fixed order of business. Below is a typical example:
- Call to order
- Reading of minutes of the last meeting
- Officers reports
- Committee reports
- Special orders – Important business previously designated for consideration at this meeting
- Unfinished business
- New business
A motion is a proposal made during the meeting with the intention to be considered and decided upon. When a motion is presented, the Chairperson will call for a second. It can then be debated upon and voted on.
Communicating with Your Residents
- Communicate in as many ways as possible.
- Be open and direct.
- Listen to your residents.
- Make use of newsletters, websites and email.
- Include updates on community projects, events, association contact information and Minutes or summaries of previous meetings.
Download our eBook, Rules of the House: Best Practices for Homeowners Association Boards for a more in-depth asset to add to your HOA toolkit.