Becoming a member of a homeowners' association (HOA) board of directors is an exciting and rewarding opportunity. You'll play an integral role in maintaining and enhancing the neighborhood, financial planning, and rule and regulation enforcement. You'll also collaborate with other board members to ensure residents are represented and informed.
While you may be eager to add your name to your community's next election ballot, there are a few things every HOA board hopeful should do to successfully prepare for their electoral event. Here are six.
1. Learn about the issues that matter most to your community.
If you want to be a member of your community's board of directors, you have an obligation to educate yourself about the association. Residents elect you to make decisions on their behalf, so it's crucial to be informed about what matters most to your community. Attend board meetings to familiarize yourself with the issues and concerns the board is dealing with. And reach out to your manager, board, or management company for additional resources and support to better understand the complexity of the issues. With a firm grasp of the responsibilities of a board member and the challenges faced by the board, you're well-equipped to serve and make positive change in the community.
2. Read your governing documents.
Prior to announcing your intention to run for the board, review your governing documents. Within them, you'll find information and guidelines about hosting a board election, election procedures, and candidate eligibility requirements. Your HOA's governing documents also offer details regarding:
- Election timing and frequency
- In-person attendance requirements
- Voting options
- Candidate qualifications
- Notification protocols
- Campaigning rules
- Term lengths
Essentially the constitution, law, and regulations that explain how a community operates, your governing documents also include other critical forms, like the codes, covenants, and restrictions (CC&Rs) and bylaws. These are important to know, as they directly impact the decision-making process for the board of directors and much more.
3. Know what the role entails.
Every HOA board member has designated responsibilities that keep the association running smoothly. Understand what you'd be expected to do and confirm that you can deliver on the duties the role entails. Generally, an HOA board has four officer positions: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. While it varies by community, each officer has specific tasks related to the operation of the association, including:
- President: The board leader who runs meetings, oversees association procedures, provides overall guidance, and serves as the spokesperson.
- Vice President: Supports the president, leads committees, and fills in whenever the president is unavailable.
- Secretary: Responsible for maintaining, overseeing, and properly storing and distributing association records and documents, like meeting minutes.
- Treasurer: Supervises all HOA financial matters, including account management, budget preparation, billing, and payments.
To determine if you'll be suited for the role, identify your strengths and determine what skills and qualities you can bring to the board.
4. Get to know people.
Because residents elect board members, they need to know who you are. Develop personal relationships by attending meetings and social events, engaging on your community's app, and chatting with neighbors at the mailbox. Let people know you're interested in running for the board and why you're an ideal candidate. Get input, ask for feedback, and welcome opinions. As a potential leader of the community, you must prove you're reliable, trustworthy, and the right choice for the job.
5. Follow nomination procedures.
Your association likely has formal processes and guidelines board candidates must adhere to. Guarantee you grasp nomination procedures and follow them closely. Some standard methods of nomination include:
- Traditional nomination: An HOA member in good standing nominates another member in good standing for a position on the board. Depending on your HOA bylaws, this nomination may need a "second" to confirm.
- Self-nomination: A person interested in a particular position on the HOA board puts their name forward for consideration. Most HOAs allow this option, though the candidate must meet all outlined qualifications.
- Floor nominations: Floor nominations occur when members nominate another member in a meeting. Typically, no second is required.
- Write-in candidates: Some bylaws allow write-in candidates. Any voting member could write any qualified member's name on the ballot even if they weren't previously listed as a candidate.
6. Encourage the community to vote.
Spread the word about your HOA board elections in the weeks leading up to it. Make sure residents know when and how to vote and work to generate excitement. Solicit votes and share your qualifications and reasons for running.
Be considerate of campaigning restrictions, and look to your governing documents and federal, state, local, and provincial laws for limitations unique to your community. Some common campaigning restrictions include:
- All nominees must have equal access to association media and common areas.
- Association funds cannot be used for campaign purposes.
- Sitting board members should never endorse one candidate.
- Sitting board members should never attempt to influence voters.
As always, consult your association attorney if you have questions.
I'm On the Board—Now What?
As the newest board member, you're probably asking yourself: "Now what?" Don't worry—with our years of experience, we can assure you it's not as stressful as you might think.
In our ebook, "The Complete HOA Board Member Starter Guide," we share the fundamental roles and responsibilities of an HOA board, how to find success in your new position, and the next steps you need to take as the newest board member.