Setting expectations for new association board members
Anytime you have incoming board members to your community association, it is important to set expectations and outline the duties each person will perform. New board members must be brought up to speed as quickly as possible so that you can go about your business and get things done with the minimum amount of stress possible.
6 tips for onboarding new members
1. Know the association bylaws
Make sure incoming board members have thoroughly read the association bylaws. It may not be the most exciting reading, but understanding the roles and functions of each board member – as well as how business matters should be conducted – is vital to keep everything running smoothly. It's also important in a legal sense, as you don't want to mismanage funds or break any laws, however unwittingly it's done.
2. Outline the functions of each board member
Next to the bylaws, it is most important to ensure each board member has a clear understanding of his or her particular role. In general, there are four primary officers who have the following basic duties:
- Acts as the leader of the association
- Presides over association board meetings
- Serves as general manager overseeing day-to-day matters (unless a manager has been hired)
- Serves as the liaison between the board and a community association manager (CAM)
- Communicates regularly with the CAM or other expert if a problem or issue comes up
- Co-signs checks
- Supports the president if called upon
- Performs the duties of the president in the president's absence
- Steps up if the president must resign
- Co-signs checks
- Oversees giving notice of association board and membership meetings
- Ensures that meeting minutes are taken and approved
- Oversees preparation of the membership list
- Maintains association records
- Reviews and understands the association's financials
- Reports financial status of the association at meetings
- Oversees the operating and reserve accounts
- Keeps and maintains the association's financial documents
- Oversees deposits, investments, and the preparation of the budgets
- Ensures bills are paid
- Is involved in preparation of the reserve study
- Co-signs with president or secretary
Your community association may have additional members. If so, those other board members should have clearly defined duties laid out in the bylaws. Some of the duties may be carried out by an outside person, such as an accounting firm or management company, but board members must still keep abreast of what is going on and oversee those bodies.
3. Understand the rules and regulations of your state
Every state has its own laws governing the function of community associations. The board must strictly follow these laws. According to the Executive Council of Home Owners (ECHO), “Board members must be familiar with the declaration, the bylaws, and other controlling documents which form a contract among the homeowners within the HOA. Sometimes the governing documents will conflict with the provisions of the State statutes. In general, the condominium or association statutes will prevail over conflicting provisions of the declaration or bylaws (except when the statute specifically authorizes the declaration or bylaws to do otherwise).”
4. Clearly define your function of as a community association
Ensure that each board member understands the overall purpose of the association. Your main duty as a board is to maintain all common areas, whether indoor or outdoor, including landscaping, pools, lobbies, fitness centers, clubhouses, parking lots, and any portions of the property that is shared among the owners. You must prioritize the most pressing needs and decide where best to devote the association's resources. Develop a plan so everyone knows which projects will be tackled first and when. The calendar should also include regular inspections as drawn up in the bylaws (or as specified by state regulations) and a schedule for repairs.
5. Develop a plan for communication
One of the worst problems that plague community associations is a lack of good communication between the board and community members. Just like any relationship, if there is no communication, there will be difficulties. Allowing homeowners to rely only on what they can see or hear through the grapevine will quickly foster discontent. You must keep residents abreast of any decisions you make and outline upcoming plans clearly. It's the easiest way to squash rumors and will help residents see the bigger picture beyond their front yard.
Follow these critical steps to create a smooth transition for each incoming board so that you can best carry out the duties of the community association and those you represent. If you feel that your community association could use some guidance from someone experienced in running community associations, download Mastering the Business of Your Association, by PeytonBolin founder Jane Bolin, Esq. or contact us for more information.