HOA board members and their role in your community
Who governs the HOA?The governance structure of an association typically involves a board of directors, also known as HOA board members, elected by the homeowners. The board, in turn, is responsible for making decisions that affect the community's well-being. The governing documents, including the bylaws and covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R), serve as the foundation for the HOA's authority. Additionally, state laws may outline specific requirements and regulations governing HOAs.
Requirements for HOA board memberHOA board members are often required to meet certain eligibility criteria outlined in the association's bylaws. Common requirements include being a current homeowner within the community, being in good standing with the association, and having a commitment to fulfilling the responsibilities of the position. Board members may also need to attend training sessions to better understand their roles and responsibilities.
What are the common HOA board positions?
PresidentThe president’s responsibilities include important procedural roles and essential leadership functions. For instance, if dictated by the bylaws, the president may appoint committees and operate as an authority on the rules and documents governing the association. During meetings, the president maintains order, proposes questions, calls votes, announces outcomes, and recognizes those about to speak on the floor. The president also calls the meeting to order, announces the agenda, and ensures everyone adheres to it. As you can see, this takes a unique personality: someone who is conversant in the dynamics of effective meetings and knowledgeable about many of the specifics of your community.
“The essential part of getting the right people on your board is to utilize each person's skills for each position. Look at their skills, history, and background,” recommends Bobby Knuth, senior regional director at FirstService Residential. Knuth says that people with experience running businesses of any size can also come to the board with skills that will make it operate more smoothly.
“More will be accomplished if the president handles the association as a business rather than a social circle, focusing on community goals. They understand the need to accomplish tasks but also be fair and amicable in their dealings,” Knuth explains. “People who see the board and association as their social circle tend to run long meetings that are not efficient and don’t accomplish much. It’s important to remember that many large associations are multi-million-dollar businesses, not social clubs.”
To learn more about the role of a board president, read our article “Eight roles you'll master as HOA president.”
Vice PresidentThe vice president shares many of the president’s responsibilities and serves in a leadership capacity when the president is absent. This individual is tasked with helping to maintain order during parliamentary procedures, keeping the flow of business moving efficiently, and acting as a knowledgeable source when it comes to the association's rules. Many smaller associations choose not to have a vice president as part of the structure; if that’s the case, ensure everyone on the board understands who will step up if the president is unavailable for a meeting.
SecretaryThink of this person as the association historian. The secretary’s role is to record the board's actions so they can be referenced later. This ensures clarity and gives the board a reference point for when and how decisions were made. Imagine how often you’ve had a conversation with another party only to find two different interpretations of the outcome after the fact. Now multiply that by every association member, and you understand how important good records are. The secretary’s functions eliminate those “Oh, I thought you meant...” scenarios by keeping accurate meeting minutes and acting as the custodian of all records. The secretary will also sign the minutes of all meetings and other important community documents.
How those minutes are taken can vary from board to board. Sometimes, an onsite staff member will take the minutes, and the secretary approves and signs. Other boards prefer that the secretary take the minutes during the meeting. The minutes should be simple, clear, and accurate regardless of who is doing the job. The meeting minutes should be a summary of the motions made and actions taken, not a word-for-word transcript of the meeting.
To learn more about the role of a board secretary, read our article “What does a community association secretary of the board do?”
TreasurerYour budget primarily dictates the effectiveness of your board. This makes the treasurer’s role essential. They will be the keeper of financial records, ensuring they are both accurate and thorough. The treasurer will apprise the board of the association’s financial health through regular reports of income and expenses and will also produce an annual financial report to all members. Look to the treasurer to submit financial records in the case of an audit and authorize any disbursement of funds. The treasurer is also the primary check signer for community payables.
What skills will an effective treasurer possess? According to Eric Love, Regional Director at FirstService Residential, someone who understands accrual accounting will be beneficial. “They will appreciate the level of detail that our financial reports provide and can explain them to the rest of the board or any residents who have questions,” he says.
In a practical, hands-on sense, the board is tasked with protecting and preserving the association’s assets, minimizing the financial risks to the association, maintaining the community’s property values, and enhancing the living experience for all residents. These mandates include everything from establishing policy and creating a budget to ensuring preventative maintenance.
The most important assets your board has to meet these goals are the people who are part of it. Each board member must clearly understand their roles and responsibilities to the board and the community. This understanding will make the board more effective and cohesive, leading to a more enjoyable community with greater resident satisfaction. A solid property management company will provide board education and training resources, helping you cultivate the qualities of great board members.
Board structures can vary, but specific officer roles are universal and necessary. Having the wrong people leading your board can result in a stagnant board that can’t accomplish its goals, creating community division and strife. To build a solid foundation for your community association board, no matter where you live, make sure that the best possible people fill these roles at your meetings.
To learn more about the role of a board secretary, read our article “What Makes a Great Board Treasurer? 6 Things You Need to Know.”
How many board members are required for an HOA?The number of board members required for an HOA can vary based on the association's governing documents. Typically, an HOA board consists of three to seven members. The exact number is often outlined in the association's bylaws, which serve as a blueprint for its operations. The aim is to strike a balance between having a representative group and ensuring effective decision-making.
HOA board members play a pivotal role in shaping the community's atmosphere and ensuring adherence to established rules and regulations. Homeowners should be aware of the number of board members required, their eligibility criteria, and the responsibilities they shoulder. While legal action against board members is possible under certain circumstances, fostering open communication and addressing conflicts through established procedures is crucial for maintaining a harmonious living environment within the community.
To learn how a professional management company like FirstService Residential can support your community, contact a member of our team.