There comes a point in everyone’s life where you feel compelled to serve your community in one way or another. Some people may fulfill this need by volunteering at a local charity organization. Others choose to become members of their homeowner’s association (HOA).
Although HOA members don’t get paid for the work they do, they play a very important role in maintaining a decent standard of living in the communities they serve. Whether you live in a condominium development or a townhouse unit, your desire to become an HOA member shows a real commitment to participate in the well-being of your community.
But, your chances of getting a coveted spot in the HOA depend on your ability to understand the qualities needed to be an HOA member. For the most part, a successful HOA member should be knowledgeable about the laws that pertain to the association. Having a reasonable and impartial outlook will also serve you well when you finally make it onto the board.
The following article aims at helping you realize your goal of becoming an HOA member.
How to become an HOA board member
We know that the prospect of becoming an HOA member can be exciting but daunting as well. You may even feel overwhelmed by the amount of information or responsibility that the position entails. But, with the right guidance, anyone can become an HOA member. The following tips and guidelines will help to improve your chances of getting elected to your HOA’s board of directors and improve your community:
Attend HOA board meetings regularly
This shows that you have a genuine interest in the inner workings of the association. Over time, you’ll be knowledgeable enough to take part in meetings and improve your visibility. Just remember to always be polite and courteous when asking questions and making comments. Most of all, strive to make a positive contribution to the meetings and always be punctual.
Study relevant documents
Knowing your legislation is a critical aspect of becoming an effective and successful HOA director. It’s important that you read relevant legislation that governs planned development communities, condominiums, and cooperatives. Study the governing documents of your HOA as well, including the CC&Rs, Rules, and Bylaws. This will give you proper context into the inner workings of the organization while improving your ability to make relevant contributions to HOA meetings. Make sure to read through the contracts your HOA has with its property management company and other stakeholders as well.
Review and understand financial statements
You need to understand the basics of where the money’s coming from and where it’s going. It’s not enough to take the Treasurer’s word for it that everything is alright. Take it upon yourself to review the statements as well and learn to identify variances. The best place to start is in the monthly financial statements. These should have an annual budget amount compared to actual revenue and expenses. Plus, the more you know about the HOA, the better your contribution as a member.
Increase your level of knowledge
Look out for free HOA seminars in your area and attend them to increase your level of knowledge on how HOAs work. Make the most of your visit to these events by asking relevant questions and take note of interesting facts and data. It’s also a good idea to learn about HOA software that will add value to your association and help you streamline tasks.
Once you become an HOA board member, the association’s welfare will be in your hands. Keep in mind that the HOA board is legally responsible for everything that happens to the association. This position puts you in a place of power and with that comes massive responsibility. Your decisions will have a direct impact on the lives of residents. You’ll be responsible for deciding whether they can have pets, how much noise they can make, and what kind of vegetation they can plant etc.
That’s why it’s important to ensure the decisions you make as an HOA member are based on sound knowledge and passion for what you do.
If you’re not sure about something, feel free to ask someone who’s more experienced than you to explain it. Speak to current and past HOA members to get a better understanding of how the association is managed. Most will be more than happy to share what they’ve learned with you, and this will make your job so much easier once you’re elected. As an HOA member, you’ll have a responsibility to represent the interests of your neighbors. You must also ensure that the association is applying its mandate and using its resources to advance the community.
Get yourself out there and meet your neighbors
Show an interest in their concerns and be upfront about your desire to run for the HOA board. Your social skills can give you an upper hand if you’re able to show that you’re a detail-oriented and civic-minded individual. The most important thing is to develop a reputation as someone that is genuine, caring and concerned. Remember that people are more than happy to vote for someone whom they know is looking out for the best interests of the community. Show your neighbors that you’re the person for their job.
Understand your job
As a member of a non-profit corporation board, you have a fiduciary duty to the association, and it’s essential that you understand what that duty entails. Generally, the HOA board is responsible for the replacement, repair, and maintenance of the common areas. The common areas may include grounds, recreational facilities, buildings, roads and even an aspect of the condo units as well. The HOA documents should describe these assets in detail to give you a clear understanding of what they cover. As an HOA member, your responsibility will be to protect, preserve and enhance the value of the property.
If a building needs repair, the board must see to it that it is done, even if it means increasing the fees to accomplish this. The HOA board is also responsible for building a sense of community. Doing this fosters a sense of unity and togetherness within the association. The association can do this by hosting special events on holidays like Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas.
Be comfortable with collecting assessments
Without assessments the association cannot operate, so you need to be comfortable with collecting assessments. This is essential to ensuring that the association has the resources it needs to thrive. Plus, it’s also about helping others to be an active part of the association.
Consider the risks and manage them
Things might happen that will put the association at risk of losing money or tarnishing its reputation. As an HOA member, you’ll play a key role in identifying potential risks and overseeing the management of them. It’s virtually impossible for any organization to completely avoid risk but it is possible to manage it with the proper tools.
One way to do this is to ensure that the HOA is maintaining proper insurance cover ad up-to-date records.
Use relevant channels
When you want to express your concerns, make sure to go through the proper forums. Also, use the relevant nomination form and channels when you’re ready to put yourself forward as an HOA board director candidate. Don’t mince your words when explaining your reasons for wanting the role. Remember; this is your chance to make a good impression and show that you have the relevant knowledge, skills, and qualities that the HOA needs.
You must also send a solicitation letter to each HOA member to plead your case and show them why they should vote for you. The letters should indicate the information shared in your nomination form. Don’t forget to attach a copy of your “Pledge by Nominee” form, signed and dated.
Mention relevant election issues
You should make sure to mention current election issues such as:
- Problems with delinquent assessments
- Special assessments that are caused by a failure to create an accurate budget
- The state of the common areas
- Violations of CC&Rs by board directors or other association members
- Late assessments by a board member
- Observations on the HOAs management performance and the quality thereof
This shows that you have a genuine interest in the association and its future success.
Exercise due diligence
This means thinking things through and applying your personal and professional knowledge before you make a decision on any matter. You need to be careful and attentive because if anything goes wrong you could be found negligent of your duties.
To Wrap Up
Being part of a homeowners association is a difficult job and it can be very time-consuming. Although it’s a thankless and even frustrating job at times, it benefits the entire community. You get to help your neighbors and affect real positive change in your their lives.
It’s also a great way to protect your investment because the decisions you make as an HOA board member have a direct impact on the future value of your asset. Plus, it places the responsibility of improving your community in your hands. It’s up to you to make sure that your condominium community is functioning harmoniously and according to a shared vision.