If you are a newly elected board member of your community’s association, congratulations! Serving on the Board of Directors is an honor – and an opportunity to make a positive impact and contribute to the well-being of your neighborhood. However, stepping into this role as a first-time board member can be overwhelming, as there are several intricacies, procedures, and forums to consider and countless deadlines to meet. With several legal and fiduciary responsibilities, this position will require you to always work in the association’s best interests and leave personal preferences at the door.
From first-day information to intricate fiduciary and financial responsibilities, this guide will help onboard all first-time HOA board members with the necessary information for association success. Here are some steps to help get you acclimated to the board and its processes:
As a first-time HOA board member, the first few days are critical in establishing a solid education foundation for your success on the board. During the first week, new board members will gain new perspectives on HOA and board member management, community management skills, and experience to support the success of the HOA. Depending on local state law, new board members will also either take a board certification class that introduces them to the responsibilities of a board, a review of laws that apply, and a general overview of board member and meeting information, or board members may need to sign an affidavit that becomes part of the official record stating they have read and understand the documents of their community and state laws as it pertains to associations.
Organization & Governing Documents
New board members should familiarize themselves with the governing documents of the HOA, which are the basis for association structure and organization. These documents include the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R), Bylaws, and any other rules and regulations specific to your community. Study these documents thoroughly to understand the guidelines and restrictions that govern the community; they dictate restrictions, requirements, and procedures to guide the board. Pay special attention to provisions related to financial management, architectural guidelines, maintenance responsibilities, and dispute resolution procedures. Study and take organized notes of policies, procedures, and current contracts, which will assist during the first few weeks on the board to help determine typical board actions and inclinations.
Budget and Financials
Once the association’s governing documents have been reviewed, plan time to analyze the current year’s operating budget and develop a good understanding of the association’s previous and current financial statements. The budget and financials will reveal critical information about your association’s financial health, and you may reference these financial statements fairly often during your time on the board.
Residents and Meetings
Building a solid working relationship with your community manager as well as fellow board members is essential for the smooth operation of the HOA. Take the time to get to know fellow board members, their areas of expertise, and their priorities for the community. Regularly scheduled board meetings will provide an opportunity to discuss and decide on important matters. Participate actively in these meetings, ask questions, and contribute valuable insights. Remember, each board member brings unique perspectives and skills to the table, and by working together, you can make well-rounded and informed decisions. As a board member, it is also vital to maintain open lines of communication with represented community members. Actively engage with residents by attending community events, hosting town hall meetings, or implementing digital platforms for communication and feedback. Listen to their concerns, ideas, and suggestions, and strive to address them transparently and timely as effective communication builds trust and fosters a sense of community among residents!
Responsibilities and Expectations
As a new board member, your #1 priority or responsibility will be a fiduciary one. As one of the main decision-makers for the community, you must withhold personal preferences to be responsible for exercising sound business judgment for the community’s overall welfare and not let your actions as a board member be influenced by personal ideology. You must also work hard to protect the association against liability while maintaining active participation and communication with and around the community. You are expected to be committed to the community’s and its residents’ best interests and other responsibilities and expectations whenever necessary.
Serving as a new HOA board member is both a privilege and a responsibility. By understanding the governing documents, collaborating with fellow board members, engaging with community members, and seeking professional guidance, you can successfully navigate the intricacies of the board and contribute to the betterment of your community. Remember: learning and growth are ongoing processes, so embrace this new opportunity with an unbiased heart and open mind. With dedication, open communication, and a commitment to serving the community’s best interests, you can fulfill your role effectively as an HOA board member!
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