Every board of directors for a homeowners’ association (HOA) has several key responsibilities that it must fulfill. While some traditional tasks include attending meetings, enforcing rules, and managing the financials, these must-dos are not always so cut-and-dry. It’s important that board members are not only adaptable, but can also keep an open mind, as roles and responsibilities often evolve.
One of the most effective ways a board member can continue to grow as a leader is by constantly self-evaluating and asking tough questions of themselves and of the board. By putting your actions and reactions into focus, you’re able to identify the board member duties that need strengthening and chart a path to more successful community operations. To see if you're properly fulfilling your duties as a board member, ask these five questions of yourself—and of the board.
1. Are Meetings as Organized as They Could Be?
Necessary for the overall development and advancement of a community, board meetings are where most HOA business is conducted. During these meetings, board members review operations, settle disputes, and make plans for the future. Holding well-organized, effective meetings is the key to doing what’s best for the community. For more productive board meetings, consider:
- Scheduling your meetings well in advance—and sticking to the scheduled dates.
- Using various channels of communication to remind attendees of the upcoming meeting.
- Establishing an agenda that clearly lays out what will be discussed.
- Preparing yourself and reviewing documents related to the agenda in advance.
- Allowing public comments from residents when appropriate and encouraging them to get involved.
- Keeping clear and concise minutes.
When you run inclusive and effective board meetings, you’ll see that interest in the community will grow—along with productivity and general morale.
2. Are You Communicating Regularly with Homeowners?
Regular communication promotes a positive and cooperative spirit and strengthens transparency and trust between the board and residents. Communicate openly and frequently with homeowners. Inform them of upcoming board meetings, elections, and opportunities to serve on committees using a multimedia approach, such as a combination of emails, social media, and notices on the HOA website and newsletter.
As a board member, you must never forget that your homeowners are your constituents. HOAs generate their operating funds by collecting fees, fines, and assessments from association members. This money allows the HOA to carry out its responsibilities, so residents deserve to have full knowledge of how that money is being spent.
3. Is the Association’s Budget in a Good Place?
Keeping your association financially sound involves much more than paying bills on time. You’re tasked with everything from creating the budget and tracking financial records to ensuring there are adequate funds for day-to-day expenses and future projects and repairs. To stay on top of your finances and manage your association successfully, follow these tips:
- Regularly review all financials, including the records that highlight key economic information for the association, like the balance sheet, statement of income and expenses, general ledger, cash disbursements ledger, accounts payable report, account delinquency report, and any bank reconciliation records.
- Assess services for effectiveness. Review your community’s services and how each vendor delivered on those services.
- Collect dues and enforce collections and payment policies consistently.
- Partner with a certified public accountant that can prepare tax returns and provide a basic analysis of HOA financial statements.
- Perform an annual audit to identify any issues concerning financial management.
With proper budgeting, you’re better able to contribute to a reserve fund, pay for emergency repairs, and keep your community well-maintained long-term.
4. Are Residents Expressing Interest in Becoming More Involved?
The strength of a community is in its members, and there’s no better way to create a sense of community than to engage homeowners as active volunteers.
As a board member, it’s your responsibility to encourage homeowners to not only attend meetings, vote, and pay dues, but to also take an active role in the governance of their community by serving on committees, running for board positions, and participating in association activities. From recruiting new board members to finding someone to grill burgers at the next neighborhood cookout, consider these tips to connect with homeowners and get them involved in the community.
- Welcome new residents with a welcome packet or special recognition at the next meeting.
- Educate residents on the benefits of living in a managed association.
- Communicate volunteer opportunities.
- Lead by example and create a positive environment where people will want to dedicate their time.
- Give everyone a chance to participate in meetings, decisions, and committees.
- Show your appreciation.
5. Are You Fulfilling Your Fiduciary Duty Honestly?
Board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the association’s best interest, so no decision should ever be made to only benefit yourself or a select group of people. Those kinds of decisions, known as conflicts of interest, can easily become an obstacle for board members when they least expect it. A conflict of interest is a situation in which a board member may have a personal gain from decisions he or she makes in their official capacity as a board member. As a leader in your association, you must know that both real and apparent conflicts of interest can occur while conducting HOA business.
When in doubt as to whether a conflict exists, seek advice from legal counsel. By working together, board members can come to an honest decision on issues and prevent any unfair practices from taking place.
Become a More Efficient Board
The best way your board can achieve more in less time is to look at your governing documents, your board’s procedures, and your community’s culture and reevaluate the processes and guidelines that are outdated or no longer hold operational value for the association. Read our article, “5 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Board Member Duties,” for tips on how to make running a community easier.