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New Board? How to Make the Transition as Smooth as Possible

Typically, board transitions happen after elections at a homeowners’ association (HOA) annual membership meeting. Voted in by community members, new directors volunteer to take on the duties of the board and the great responsibility that comes with it. Knowing the weight of the role, it’s important the transition of old board to new board is as smooth as possible. We asked those with first-hand knowledge for tips to help make the transition a success. Here’s what our two experts had to say.

Schedule a board boot camp.

“Following either an annual election or an appointment of a new seat, the most important thing to do is to schedule a board boot camp or board member orientation. Work with the association’s legal counsel to create an agenda of items outlining fiduciary duties, the hierarchy of governing documents, case precedent, and the roles and responsibility of a board member.”

- Haley Murphy, CMCA®, AMS®, General Manager, Prescott Companies

Set goals.

“Go over each board member’s goal for the year and create a general roadmap for the association. It lets people get to know each other and their objectives for the association and ensures everyone is on the same page.”

- Haley Murphy, CMCA®, AMS®, General Manager, Prescott Companies

Elect only a fraction of board members at a time.

“When talking about board transitions, the best thing an association can do is make sure the governing documents provide for staggered terms (in which only a fraction of board members are elected each time instead of all at once). Doing this will allow for continuity during the transition and time for the experienced board members to guide the new board members.”

- Emily Ramirez, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Director of Community Management, Colorado Association Services

Keep a board binder.

“A board binder—either physical or electronic—includes a summary of expectations, all the governing documents (amendments, policies, and rules), the current budget, reserve study, key vendor contracts, board minutes from the last 12 months, and copies of the insurance policies. Having this information available helps new board members understand the community and will aid in making decisions.”

- Emily Ramirez, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Director of Community Management, Colorado Association Services

Get informed.

As a general rule of thumb, new directors have the responsibility to educate themselves about the association. Know what the state law says about the type of community in which you live. Listen to the advice you receive from your community manager and other professional consultants. Check with your association’s legal counsel on matters outside your field of expertise. Make your decisions based on good business judgment, not what you think the owners would like to hear.

Keep these tips in mind before your community transitions to a new board for an easy approach to the often stressful process.