The annual homeowner association meeting convenes. The president announces that the floor is open for nominations. A fellow homeowner say to you, “You know, you would make a good board member.” Before you have a chance to reply, some body movement indicates that you are willing, ready and able to serve. “The nominations are closed,” a vote is taken, and suddenly YOU ARE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. You ask yourself, “What does being on the board mean, who is going to teach me and how much do I get paid?” Here are some basic guidelines on how to become a successful board member and enjoy it at the same time…a lesson in HOA responsibilities and practices.
What does it mean to be on the board? You have made a commitment that you will serve the HOA’s interests to the best of your ability, be fair on matters that come before the board, will do your best to preserve and enhance the values of the common areas and that you will spend money in a prudent manner. Being a director also means that you have fiduciary duties which require making reasonable investigation into matters dealt with and acting in a businesslike, prudent manner when making decisions.
Who is going to teach you? Hopefully, you have several veterans on the board who will help you. Ideally, you will have the property manager who works closely with the board and is willing to offer guidance. Continuity is one of a board’s greatest challenges. Ask questions. How have issues been handled in the past? Current boards should carefully consider plans laid by previous boards and not change them impulsively. Take time to become familiar with your association grounds and facilities. Review the HOA’s governing documents, the rules and regulations, and any other board policies to develop a familiarity with them. Keep a set handy for when specific questions arise.
Make a commitment to attend all board meetings and prepare in advance by studying the agenda and related material. There generally aren’t (or shouldn’t be) many meetings but each deals with critical issues. Give them your full attention.
Budget time offers an opportunity to help build a sound financial future for the community. The two basic parts of the budget are Operating (deals with routine maintenance and day to day expenses) and Reserves (long range, major repairs and replacements). As a member of the board, you will be asked to predict future financial needs by using both past budget history and new information accumulated for future repairs.
How much does the job pay? While no money is paid, there are many personal rewards to be had for a job well done. Dealing with people requires patience and flexibility. Remember that while disagreement is not always avoidable, you were elected to make decisions. Consider carefully those decisions put before you and do your best. If you serve as a committed member, it will be one of the more rewarding experiences that you will have.