What are HOA committee roles and responsibilities?
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Thriving HOA committees have typically attributed “success by committee” as a factor for their growth. But what are actual HOA committee roles and responsibilities? Homeowner association committees help keep their communities safe and thriving by taking on tasks that free up board members' time. From operations to finance, these dedicated individuals are integral in making many positive improvements within the community.
Why establish HOA committees?While some board members are elected to their roles with professional knowledge or previous HOA experience, others have little to no knowledge or training in community association governance. Regardless of their experience, they must juggle their HOA responsibilities alongside their families, jobs, hobbies, civic involvement, and other personal interests and responsibilities.
That is why it is recommended that associations hire a professional property management company to manage the community’s day-to-day operations and responsibilities. While this helps alleviate much of the burden from board members, there may still be ongoing community issues that need to be addressed, as well as one-off issues that can arise during the year, which take away time and resources from both parties. That’s where advisory committees come in, as they help board members by handling more minor resident concerns or community matters.
In addition to providing valuable assistance to the Board, committees also involve more shareholders with personal experience in the governance process, resulting in a stronger, more involved community. As a bonus, they provide committee members with valuable association governance experience, making them a hands-on training ground for new community leaders.
Effective committees can be your community’s lifeline, so if you need a helping hand, consult with a seasoned board member or a good property management company for guidance.
What are the most common HOA committees?Generally, associations create two types of committees; standing and ad hoc. Standing committees are permanent committees that meet regularly to handle ongoing tasks. Ad hoc committees are short-term, temporary committees formed to handle specific tasks, like developing a new operating plan, amending the community association’s bylaws, or solving issues impacting the community and residents.
With that said, there are multiple types of committees that can fulfill different purposes in your community. The most common committees deal with the HOA’s communications, finances, safety, architectural control, and social events. Here are just a few HOA committee descriptions:
- Communications Committee: Ensures the community is up-to-date on their association's news and events. They keep everyone in the loop through regular newsletters, a website, and more.
- Financial Committee: Plays a pivotal role in maintaining the association’s fiscal health. With sub-committees devoted to finances, budgeting, reserves, and investments, they can provide effective oversight regarding monthly performance monitoring and implementation of annual budgets and reserve study recommendations, and investment policies.
- Safety Committee: Can positively impact its community by connecting to local law enforcement and introducing preventive measures such as neighborhood watches or citizen-on-patrol programs. Its key role is not that of an enforcer, so it should never be referred to as the security committee.
- Landscape Committee: Work to ensure the beauty and longevity of a community's greenery, considering its overall aesthetics and the sustainability practices employed.
- Social Committee: Brings the community together by organizing fun, festive events. From holidays and garage sales to seasonal festivals, they strive to create enjoyable experiences for their neighbors!
How do I form a committee?Associations typically have the power to create as many committees and specialized groups as they choose. But there is a process to making them.
- Check your governing documents. The first step is to review your association’s governing documents, as they generally provide a clear outline of member qualifications and outline the processes for selecting and removing members from these special teams while setting size limits.
- Create committee charters. Once your HOA board forms a committee, it should create a committee charter – a written document that defines its duties and responsibilities – and those of its members. The charter also establishes the relationship between the board and the committee. It spells out the committee’s limitations – such as what expenses it can accrue and which actions it can take. But it’s a good idea for the board not to be overly restrictive – you don’t want to thwart your committee from achieving its goals. But it’s worth repeating that committees are primarily in place to provide board members with additional perspectives.
- Establish an organizational structure. Like the board of directors, each committee should have an organizational structure. The first position is the committee chair, who handles the meetings and agenda. There should also be a committee secretary who takes down and publishes the meeting minutes. Keep in mind that your governing documents will determine if board members are allowed to be committee members.
- Create job descriptions. It is vital that everyone on the committee is aware of their role and responsibilities to ensure efficiency and clarity.
- Recruit members. When encouraging homeowners to join the HOA committee, make sure to have a list of skill requirements and character qualifications to ensure everyone on the committee will work well together and bring unique perspectives.
- Decide to hold open or closed meetings. Since many committees will be making decisions relevant to the community, it is encouraged that their meetings are open so homeowners can observe the decision-making process and feel heard. This will also ensure transparency and accountability in the committee. In the case of advisory and disciplinary committees, where confidential decisions are made, it is best to keep these meetings closed.
Many tasks and responsibilities go into effective community management, but HOA board members don’t have to do it alone. When committee members work with board members to shoulder some of the duties, they help strengthen the association and the community, which is a win-win for everyone.
For more information about committees – and how they can help board members perform more effectively – contact FirstService Residential.