Homeowners associations should have good board members sitting at the helm. After all, board members are the ones who make decisions for the community. But, what makes a good HOA board member exactly?
WANT TO KNOW WHAT MAKES A GOOD HOA BOARD MEMBER?
Board members are responsible for making important decisions that can affect the HOA community. Whether you want to be a board member or are already serving as one, you need to do your best to be a good one. That’s often easier said than done, though, especially if you don’t know how to be a good board member. Believe it or not, it takes more than just knowledge of your community to effectively play your role.
What makes a good HOA board member?
First and foremost, a good HOA board member should exhibit a willingness to serve. You must have a passion for volunteer work since the job is essentially that.
Board members don’t receive pay, so all the time and effort you will put into the association should come from a place of genuine care for the community.
As a board member, you should do more than just the bare minimum. You should be meticulous and detail-oriented, and that means committing time to read and understand your governing documents. Your bylaws and CC&Rs contain plenty of important information such as how you should enact or amend rules, how you should run meetings, and how you should go about enforcement.
You should also go into every meeting prepared. Know what issues your community is suffering from and come up with suggestions for solving them. Every meeting should also follow an agenda to maintain order and structure.
Flexibility is one of the most important qualities of a good HOA board member. Times are changing and technology is evolving, so you must keep an open mind if you want the best for your community.
For example, rather than forcing residents to attend the annual meeting to meet a quorum, consider adjusting how you vote on things with the help of technology. Being amenable to change is a good way to ensure your HOA doesn’t get left behind the times.
As a board member, you will undoubtedly run into a few residents who have bad behaviors. Although you may feel tempted to engage in a screaming match with these residents, it’s important to keep your cool and fight that temptation. Don’t stoop to their level. Instead, approach the problem with a level head and restraint.
Objectivity is critical when it comes to making decisions and enforcing rules. Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean you can treat them with more consideration than others. Similarly, you should not be extra cruel or strict towards someone you dislike.
In addition, you should stay away from conflicts of interest. If you stand to benefit from a certain decision, make sure to remove yourself from the vote or remove the source of conflict from the running altogether. Making decisions as a result of personal bias or gain is inappropriate board member behavior.
What makes a good HOA board member? Consistency. This particularly applies to enforcing rules and covenants.
Selective or arbitrary enforcement is a bad sign across the board. When you practice this type of enforcement, homeowners can challenge the validity of their offenses or violations.
It also opens you up to potential liability. When residents see that you enforce rules consistently, they are more likely to follow them and you.
7. CAN DELEGATE
An ability to delegate is key, especially when it comes to learning how to be a good HOA president. You can’t expect to complete all the management tasks by yourself, even if you feel like you need to. That will only result in poorer results for the community and poorer health (mentally and physically) for you.
This is why many homeowners associations have committees to handle various items. Trust in your committee members to fulfill their roles and duties. To put a spin to the popular saying, “If you want it done right, you don’t have to do it alone.”
Nothing can bring down a board faster than a toxic board member. When a board member is constantly negative or cynical, it can demoralize your entire board. Serving on the HOA board comes with a lot of difficulties, so you should stay optimistic and not let these challenges overwhelm you.
That being said, there’s also a danger to being overly positive. Sweeping your duties under the rug and simply holding out hope that it will “all work out in the end” is equally toxic.
9. RIGHTEOUS AND TRANSPARENT
Considering board members handle the association’s finances, transparency is understandably a must-have trait. You should disclose the HOA’s financial condition to your members. In some states, this is even mandatory.
Of course, there are certain pieces of information that an HOA board must not make available to its members. A list of delinquent homeowners and their debts is a good example.
Good HOA board members are not only cooperative with fellow board members but also with the entire community.
Make sure to listen to what homeowners have to say about certain decisions. When homeowners feel included in the decision-making process, they are less likely to accuse the board of dictatorship.
It’s also worth conducting regular surveys to gauge homeowner satisfaction. Ask them what changes they want to see and how happy they are with the current state of the community.
Collaboration also extends to your HOA management company. Maintain a strong, healthy, and trusting relationship with your company or manager. It’s equally important to keep an open and honest line of communication between you two.
11. NOT AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
There are only so many things you can do without the help of experienced professionals. Sometimes, you need to turn to HOA managers, accountants, attorneys, or engineers for the betterment of your community. While hiring expert services does cost money, the investment is certainly worth it.
Beyond asking for help, though, you should also make sure to follow their professional advice. It’s not enough to just listen to what these experts have to say. If you want to create true change and improve your HOA, you must take steps to turn their counsel into reality.
In many ways, a homeowners association is like a business. And, as the leaders of that business, you need to be able to make critical decisions for the long-term. That means looking at every angle of a potential decision and focusing on the larger picture. The association’s primary goal is to preserve property values, so always keep that in mind when making decisions.
A thick skin is one of the more neglected HOA board of directors qualifications, but it remains an essential quality nonetheless. You will always encounter disputes and problems within your board or community. There will also be times when you need to make tough decisions that some homeowners might not agree with. The trick is to never take any of these reactions personally.
Board members should maintain professionalism at all times, never letting personal feelings or vendettas cloud their judgment. Professionalism also applies to board meetings, both in the way you conduct them and where. As much as possible, hold your meetings in a business environment. While you can provide refreshments, never serve alcoholic beverages during these meetings.
15. ALWAYS PUTS THE COMMUNITY FIRST
What makes a good HOA board member? More than anything else, a good board member always puts the interests of the community first.
You must strive to create long-term value for the association and its members. All of your actions and decisions should be for the improvement of your community and not for self-service.
JUST LIKE OTHER MEMBERS
Board members must understand that they have serious roles to fulfill within the association. Your job as a board member is important, but that doesn’t mean you should receive special treatment. The rules apply to you and your fellow board members as well. In fact, there’s more pressure on board members as a whole to follow the rules and behave in a rational and professional manner at all times.
Now that you know what makes a good HOA board member, it’s time to take it further and start putting these qualities into practice. Some of them might take time and work on your part, but the end result will certainly make your effort worth it.
Upholding your responsibilities as a board member while simultaneously juggling a life outside of the HOA can be hard. Make it easier with the help of an HOA management company.