1. Know Your Role
Basically, your job is to protect the best interests of the homeowners, preserve property value, and maintain the peace and harmony in your community. You have to put the association’s best interest first before your own and think long-term.
As a new board member, you may be excited to enact sweeping changes to the community like retiling the clubhouse or suing a delinquent neighbor at a small claims court.
However, it’s important to understand that the board of directors acts and makes decisions as one. No board member has more authority than others, even if they hold an officer position.
Also, there are rules outlined in your association’s governing documents which you have to follow. You will face sanctions for violating your community’s bylaws.
As for specific roles within the board, read Understanding Board of Directors Roles & Responsibilities.
2. Know the Governing Documents
Next, read and familiarize yourself with your HOA’s covenants, bylaws, and other governing documents. Find out what you’re required to follow to the letter and where you have some flexibility to execute. Understand the steps of common board actions.
There are a lot of terminologies to learn too like fiduciary, common area and exclusive use common area, and “good business judgment.” If you work with an HOA management company, they can provide you with a handy list of common terms and their meanings.
Knowing your governing documents does not only build credibility when you’re communicating with neighbors. It also helps you avoid violating your bylaws by accident.
3. Understand the Financials
Another HOA document that you should familiarize yourself with is your community’s financials. If you don’t know how, learn how to read and understand financial statements, including balance sheets, statements of income and expenses, and general ledgers.
It is your primary role as a board member to keep your HOA in good financial health. You, along with other board members, are responsible for ensuring that the association’s budget, cash flow, and reserves are properly managed and financial documentation and audits are updated.
4. Attend Training and Workshops
Your HOA management company and the local law firms in your area may offer boot camps and educational resources for free or at a very low cost.
Community Associations Institute (CAI), an international membership organization for community associations, also provides many educational services, including online training and in-person workshops that you can attend.
5. Have Good Character
As a board member, it’s important to have integrity and character.
You’ll face many challenges in your board membership not only with your neighbors but also with vendors and fellow board members. Stay calm, empathetic, and diplomatic in the face of conflict and challenge.
Strive to maintain a good relationship between you and others. Avoid playing favorites, holding grudges, and involving in backroom deals. Maintain a culture of transparency and always act in consensus with other board members.
When you have good character, your neighbors and other people will more likely respect and follow you.
Photos by Amy Hirschi and krakenimages on Unsplash