Being a first-time homeowners association board member can be an exciting experience but comes with responsibilities. There are HOA duties, like working with a management company, keeping up with financial spending, and protecting the interests of the community at large.
Your HOA board responsibilities are to make decisions for the best interests of your residents and the community, and to protect property values. Here are some example tasks on what you can expect as you start your new position:
- Making sure maintenance and staff are performing their jobs properly
- Working with management on issues or repairs related to building maintenance and financial records for the association
- Reviewing financial statements from management when requested by other members of the board
- Enforcing the governing documents in matters relating to architectural modifications and rules
It’s best to familiarize yourself with the new HOA board responsibilities. Members must attend meetings, read and understand board policies, review financial statements, and make decisions on behalf of the organization.
To facilitate your transition to board service, we've provided some tips below to make the process feasible.
An HOA Transition Checklist for First-Time Board Members
The best practices for managing an HOA are to guarantee a good working relationship with your management company, especially your first time holding a leadership role. The following checklist will guide you through the initial weeks as a newly minted Director of the HOA.
- Understand the role of the board
Out of the many HOA board responsibilities, the most important one is taking the time to get to know each board member before you start working with them. You can begin by getting to know each one on a personal level. The goal is to deepen the bond between each board member and gain knowledge about their hobbies and interests. It will also help you build a rapport with each peer, which makes it easier for you to communicate with them in the future.
Board members are there to support you and help you succeed. They want to see the organization flourish, and it’s vital that they feel appreciated for all of their hard work.
- Learn about terms and procedures during onboarding
The onboarding process is the best time to learn all there is to know about your new role. As you know, HOAs are governed by a set of rules and regulations known as CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions). These guidelines outline how the community is maintained, how rules are enforced, what amenities are available, and other information about living in the community. For more insight into the inner workings of the community, you should also talk to other members.
Start by asking questions such as:
- What procedures will guide the board when making decisions?
- How are budgets set?
- What factors go into meeting agendas, rules, and regulations?
This process will help you better understand how things work in your community before taking on any board member responsibilities. Check with your management company or association’s general counsel to see if they offer a Board orientation. This is a great way to become familiar with your community, as well as to provide a deeper understanding of the fiduciary duties of a Board Member.
Know your fiduciary duty
Fiduciary duties are the legal side to the HOA board responsibilities. A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care required by law, meaning that board members must act in good faith and with the utmost integrity.
The main fiduciary duties of an HOA board member include:
- Act in good faith. This entails acting on behalf of all owners equally, not favoring one owner over another. The best way to demonstrate acting in good faith is by being transparent and sharing all available information with community owners.
- Disclose material information to all owners on time. Pressing matters at the association, such as legal disputes, must be informed to the community with transparency. Make sure you work closely with the association’s legal counsel to draft legal disclosures concerning legal matters.
- Communicate. You must keep members of the association informed at all times during meetings and whenever necessary regarding the association. This would include providing information about upcoming events, changes in fees and dues, new policies, and so forth.
- Stay in the loop with community forums and websites
New board members should stay in the loop with community forums and websites to learn about upcoming events and activities related to the organization. This information will guide decisions on how best to serve your community. For example, Board Members can stay up to date with their City Council's agendas, or proposed commercial construction in their area.
- Send updates via email
Your association might also have an app that makes it easy for members to receive notifications about upcoming events and emergencies in the community. Start by finding out about how your association sends resident communications. Often these communication platforms will include Board-specific features or a Board Portal. Connect with your provider for an orientation of the platform.
Some associations send newsletters monthly or quarterly, while others send them more frequently. Again, this will vary depending on the size of your association and how often it holds meetings.
Typically the Board President, or another Director, will write articles for these publications. Board Liaisons to Resident Committees also write articles to keep the community up to date on their activities. As a new Board Member, find out if this will be part of your role as a Director.
Familiarize Yourself With the Board Offices
An HOA board typically consists of four to five members. However, some associations have additional roles dependent on the needs of their community, with each of them playing an essential part in making decisions for the community. The Bylaws of the Association will outline how offices of the Board and how they are to govern the association. Here’s a brief overview of the roles:
- President or Chief Executive Officer: The president makes sure everything goes according to plan and oversees the entire decision-making process. Specifically, it is the president who signs legal documents and contracts, serves as the public face of the HOA, Chairs Board Meetings, and represents the board in community events.
- Vice President: The vice president steps in if the president is absent. They have the same tasks as the president, making their role crucial.
- Secretary: The secretary is in charge of managing all non-finance-related documents within the HOA, including a membership list, or list of residents and their contact information, and the meeting minutes and BOard Resolutions. They are responsible for staying on top of legal matters and updating records accordingly.
- Treasurer or Chief Financial Officer: The treasurer handles all financial matters related to income and expenses. They ensure periodic financial statements are produced and monitor association accounts to ensure that all transactions are properly recorded. The treasurer is key to the HOA because they review and maintain association finances, including paying bills and filing taxes on time. While the Treasurer’s duties are delegated to a manager, management company or CPA in most cases, the Treasurer is ultimately responsible for making sure the association’s finances are maintained.
- Community Manager: Although community managers are not an official part of the HOA board, they often influence decisions and can be seen as representatives. These members are employed by property management companies or the associations to handle daily community operations. They typically manage tasks such as collecting dues, enforcing rules and regulations, overseeing maintenance for common areas, and ensuring that residents are satisfied with their living situation.
Help Your Board Run More Efficiently
Fortunately, the more you understand what's involved with board service, the more prepared you are to tackle it. As a new HOA board member, it's not just about being in charge and making decisions — it's about taking care of and protecting the best interests of your community.
BuildingLink is a digital solution for board members to organize, systemize, and improve operations for every member of the board and its residents. Among its many features, communities can use the platform to automate almost every manual process, from establishing a preventive maintenance program to maintaining governing documents and records.
To learn more about how BuildingLink can change your board for the better, book a demo with us today.