Here's what you need to know if you serve on a homeowner or condominium owner association board in Florida
Living in a managed residential community has many benefits, like shared social spaces, grounds upkeep, and amenities like sports areas or swimming pools.
However, one crucial part of every homeowners' association (HOA) or a condominium association is its board of directors, which is a group of members who make decisions about the community and keep it running.
If you're considering becoming a member of your HOA or condominium board, or have just taken on this new role and are seeking answers about your responsibilities, here's what you need to know about serving on an association board.
What does an association board do?
An association needs a board of directors to govern how the community operates. Key responsibilities of the HOA or condominium board are to:
- Oversee all association operations
- Create budgets and manage membership fees
- Coordinate repairs and vendors
- Handle association member disputes
Members of each association elect board members in a vote. Regular meetings take place, which board members must attend to go over any issues or to approve budget changes. The board also votes on the annual budget for the association's maintenance and operation.
Each community association is governed by articles of incorporation and bylaws, as well as the declaration of conditions, covenants, and restrictions (CC&Rs). The CC&Rs are what give the board the power to make decisions for the association in the first place.
The CC&Rs also outline:
- Aesthetic requirements for homes or condos
- How long board members can serve
- The dues or assessments required of residents
- How to handle rule violations
The governing documents typically allow the board the power to assess and collect dues from members to help with association costs. This could include giving the board the right to collect special assessments from members if repairs are needed to shared property spaces, for example.
Association board members will often update rules and regulations in the governing documents as priorities for members may change over time. If conflicts arise between members, new rules could be added that would prevent the same conflict from happening in the future.
The CC&Rs also give the board the right to enforce rules and guidelines. While the board won't regulate every aspect of the homes, some common regulations include:
- The color of shingles or exterior home paint
- Swing sets or sports equipment like basketball hoops
- Garages and sheds
- Noise levels
- Trees and lawns
Of course, these regulations will vary in CC&Rs across Florida HOAs and condominium associations.
Electing association officers
Each board will also have officers who are elected by the association members. As with many organizations, the offices are usually president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
Different HOA or condominium association boards will structure the offices differently, but these basic titles help the board to have one person in charge of each aspect of the main responsibilities. And not all board members will have a specific role or title, so remember that you don't have to take on that additional responsibility until you're ready.
Qualities to strive for as a board member
It's no secret that disagreements between association members and the board can occur. A new or soon-to-be board member must understand why these disagreements happen and how they're handled.
It's important to note that sentiment may differ between HOA members and condominium association members – condo owners usually jointly own the building their unit is in, while HOA members own one plot of land and the HOA itself owns the shared spaces. So, condo owners may be more closely tied to decisions about shared spaces in the building or grounds.
If a new rule is implemented about lawn care, or the membership fee increases to pay for a new amenity on the property, home or condo owners may be upset. Remember that you're part of the board and you can't act on your own. The board as a whole must make decisions based on votes so that multiple viewpoints can be heard and represented.
As a new member of the board you have a responsibility to think through each conflict and topic and make sound decisions about what would be best for the community as a whole; not what would be best for you alone.
It's important to use diplomacy in your interactions since you are now representing both sides of the association – as a community member and as a board member. This is when you'll start to realize that being on the board is more business than personal, and you'll have to make decisions objectively.
Remember that negotiation and compromise are two essential factors of conflict resolution. Moreover, remember that you can never make everyone happy.
Volunteering your time to serve on your HOA or condo association board can be a rewarding experience, especially if you've wanted to have more say about regulations and rules in your residential community.
Our association law and real estate attorneys at PeytonBolin would be glad to answer any questions you have about the role of board members in managed residential communities. Get in touch with our experienced team today to schedule a consultation.