Management Corner: Understanding What Your HOA Board of Directors Does for Your Community
Many people who live in a homeowners’ association (HOA) are proud to call their community home. Their neighborhood is aesthetically pleasing, there are things to do, and your neighbors generally have similar interests. To maintain all this, there's a group working diligently behind the scenes—your HOA board of directors. While you pay assessments to help keep the community in top shape, your board does what it takes to make sure your community thrives. Read on to learn what you can expect from your board to keep your community looking and feeling its best.
What’s an HOA Board of Directors?
HOAs are run by a volunteer group of homeowners—your neighbors—that are elected to the board of directors. Usually consisting of three to five members, the board is authorized to act on the community’s behalf. The board makes decisions, sets policy, establishes the budget, and determines which projects to complete and when they get done.
What Does the HOA Board of Directors Do?
An association's governing documents detail specific board powers and duties. However, during a typical year, the board completes and oversees a multitude of tasks, including, but not limited to:
- Schedule board and annual meetings
- Reserve meeting spaces
- Review board packets
- Attend meetings
- Prepare meeting presentations and communicate meeting information
- Complete follow-up tasks and projects
- Review monthly financials, balance sheets, and income expense statements
- Explain any variances
- Ensure proper coding of all expenses for budget preparation
- Schedule and monitor reserve fund investmentsSelect an independent CPA for review and tax return preparation
- Prepare the budget draft
- Set vendor budgets
- Identify vendors
- Manage and review contracts (insurance, irrigation, landscaping, snow removal, professional management, pool, etc.)
- Review recurring projects (seal coating and asphalt maintenance; painting and staining; tree trimming, landscaping inspection and replacement; dryer vent cleaning; concrete and sidewalk maintenance; FHA recertification, etc.)
- Review capital projects in the reserve study (decks, concrete, gutters, light fixtures, painting and/or staining, roofs, asphalt roads, driveways, fences, shutters, siding, masonry, irrigation, etc.)
- Prepare mailings, newsletters, and budget letters
- Distribute insurance reminders
- Ensure annual compliance inspections get completed
- Enforce governing documents
- Review and update the association’s strategic plan
- Schedule signing ceremony for the voluntary board of directors’ code of ethics
- Review and ensure the resale disclosures are up to date for new buyers
What Can Homeowners Do If They’re Unhappy with A Board Decision?
Board members have a fiduciary duty to act in the community's best interest and work to help the association succeed. However, there may be times when homeowners are unhappy about a situation or disagree with a decision.
For example, your community’s snow removal service may seem poor if a winter event exceeds expectations and the contractor is only seen clearing the roads a couple of times. While it’s a board’s job to ensure snow removal happens, there’s much more that goes into selecting a vendor that provides the appropriate service at the right price. A board can’t always forecast an extreme weather event, so when searching for a snow removal vendor, it may usually consider the:
- Desired level of service
- Frequency of service
- Cost of the service
- Cost the community is willing to pay for the service
It’s important to reach out when issues arise, but it’s equally necessary to be informed about the various factors that contribute to such a situation happening.
Typically, a vendor’s performance aligns with what’s in the contract. If it doesn’t, it’s up to the board to address that concern with the vendor. To better understand a board decision or get clarity on something that occurred in the community, try:
- Reaching out to management. Connect with your management team to understand and discuss the service level expectations.
- Attending the homeowner forum of a board meeting. Be tactful and courteous in expressing your proposed solution.
- Attending the annual meeting. Get involved and run for the board.
How Can Homeowners Support the Board?
Board members are tasked with everything from preserving the financial health of the association and enforcing rules to attending meetings and maintaining overall operations—and it’s easy for these duties to pile up. Here are a few ways residents can do their part, support the board, and enhance their community:
1. Connect with leaders.
Get to know the officers of the HOA board. Your leaders work on your behalf and strive to improve your quality of life and keep the community safe—and they want to hear from you. Take the time to connect with them and politely offer insight that may help initiate a collaborative homeowner-board relationship. When the board and membership work together, everyone wins.
2. Learn about your HOA and role as a homeowner.
When you purchase a home with an HOA, you automatically become a member of the association. However, not all residents understand how the board of directors or their HOA operate.
Because misinformation and misunderstandings can create friction and lead to low morale, residents should make it a priority to learn the ins and outs of HOA living. Attend seminars, ask your manager, board, or management company for resources, or do your own research. Remember, everyone is on the same team, and the more people know, the better off everyone will be.
3. Show gratitude.
When was the last time you looked at the sidewalk, roads, paint, roof, shrubs, garage bucks, capstones, masonry, retaining walls, and light fixtures? Or read the governing documents and reviewed the insurance policies, budget, or reserve study?
The board is constantly maintaining these items to avoid deferred maintenance, keep property values high, and ensure the community has a good reputation. Let your leaders know you see their hard work and express gratitude for their efforts.
4. Get involved in the community.
As volunteers, it’s difficult for board members to accomplish everything—there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. To help the board avoid burnout and work effectively, consider getting involved in the community. Participation and collaboration ease pressures, promote harmony, and create efficiency.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Attend meetings. One of the most impactful ways to get your voice heard is by attending association meetings.
- Volunteer on a committee. A committee helps relieve the workload of the board while contributing to the well-being of fellow homeowners.
- Go to social events. Get to know your neighbors and have a little fun in the process.
- Engage on the community’s digital platform. It’s okay (and encouraged) to answer poll questions or voice your opinion.
More From the Management Corner
All HOA residents are required to pay monthly or yearly dues called assessments. Understanding where every dollar of your assessment is going is important when choosing to live in an association and comparing homes within different communities. Read the article, “Management Corner: Understanding HOA Budgets, Reserves & Assessments,” to learn more about budgets, reserves, and assessments and how they impact a homeowner’s expectations.