Guide to the Politics of Being an HOA Board Member

Being an HOA board member can be a rewarding and sometimes daunting task especially when it comes to politics. Some board members resign from their role due to time restraints from their personal affairs. Other times, a board may call for a member’s removal if they are causing hassle or threat to the community. The following guideline is a resource for you and your board to understand the processes involved in the board politics.

Positions and Duties on the Board of Directors

The board of directors is comprised of multiple positions similar to congress or other corporations. Each position has important duties to keep your community operating and functioning smoothly. The HOA’s governing documents and state statutes will define the toles and duties of each member, but your HOA management company is a great resource for clarification. These roles include:

  • President: The president leads the board of directors and works closely with the community association’s property manager. Typically, the president is the main point of contact for the professional management company.
  • Vice President: This role will vary within communities. However, if the president is not present, the vice president will fulfill his/her role.
  • Treasurer: The treasurer’s primary responsibility is to oversee the association’s finances and developing the budget. This role will also typically head the finance committee if the association has one. It is recommended that the treasurer have experience in accounting, business, or financial management to fulfill the duties required of this role. 
  • Secretary: The secretary plays a key role in the association’s affairs. Along with the president and property manager, the secretary sets the meeting agenda, records the meeting minutes, and ensures the quorum criteria has been met. To comply with state laws and the associations governing documents, the secretary will also send advanced meeting notices to homeowners. This role maintains the association’s records, is in charge of the corporate seal, and signs and attests to important documents such as the corporate resolutions and bank documents. Typically an HOA management company would handle these responsibilities, but the secretary should still oversee them to make sure they comply with the association’s governing documents.

Even if the responsibilities vary depending on the association, it is important to keep the best interests of the community at heart. Be equal and fair when enforcing rules and take your role seriously to make informed decisions for your community. When in doubt, your management company is able to assist you and your board members in your efforts.

Conflict Resolution

Unfortunately, conflicts will occur when operating your HOA board. It is imperative to know how to handle these situations when they arise and deal with them in an appropriate manner. Here are a few ways you can strengthen relationships and create trust within the community.

Acknowledge the person’s concerns and let them know you are ready to assist. Give them the opportunity to explain and provide additional information. Dig a little deeper to get to the root cause of the conflict and do not just address the symptoms.

A sincere apology can go a long way. While you do not necessarily have to apologize for any actions, apologizing for a misunderstanding or that the person feels frustrated or angry lets them know they are heard. This type of apology leaves the situation open for further discussion without accepting blame.

Allow the person to express their feelings and concerns without interruption or frustration. Give the individual your undivided attention and try to understand their needs. An active listener will not just jump to conclusions, but will tune in to their words, feelings, and body language.

Think about the long-term solution when taking action. Research the cost involved and the value of the result. This will help find a solution for you HOA as well as the people directly affected. Sending the person an acknowledgement confirming the resolution will convey your interest in their needs and leave them with a favorable experience. Remember, creating trust requires personal interactions and real conversations.

Improving Your Board’s Decision-Making Process

Another way to resolve conflict is to be proactive in preventing them in the first place. Improving the board’s decision-making process can make this smoother. Here are a few tips to effectively improve the process:

  • Notify homeowners of meetings in advance. Your association’s governing documents will outline the timeframe necessary. Some decisions may need quorum present at the meeting to determine proper action. If quorum is not met, those actions will be automatically invalid. Giving your homeowners plenty of advance notice will ensure more people are able to save the date to attend the meeting.
  • Avoid serving alcohol at board meetings. Some boards may host meetings in one of the directors’ homes, and while it may seem socially acceptable to serve beer, wine, or liquor, if can impair judgement.
  • Allow present members to share their ideas during meetings and contribute solutions. Sometimes, they may have better judgement. Give members a time limit, otherwise the meeting could drag on for hours. But allowing their voice to be heard may give you a better solution to the issues at hand.

If you are still struggling to find solutions, forming committees can be beneficial. Gather a team of community members to help brainstorm new and creative ideas to aid the board in their decision-making process. However, do not hesitate to seek professional help when needed from attorneys, engineers, and architects. An expert’s opinion is always best before taking action.

Resigning from Your HOA Board

A board member may resign for several reasons such as moving or not having enough time to dedicate to properly serve the board. Sometimes an entire board may resign from their duties as well. However, each case will need to follow the proper steps in resignation.

You will need to write an official notice of your resignation in the form of letter and/or email. The letter should include the specific date your resignation will be effective but does not need to give detailed reasons why you would like to resign. The letter should be distributed to members of your community and could even be posted to the bulletin board in one of the common areas.

It is a good standard of practice to assist your HOA board and community in the transition process. Training the new board member and giving the new recruit advice will certainly ease any growing pains. You do not want to leave your board hanging. After all, they are still your neighbors, and you have invested efforts in making sure your HOA is running smoothly.

Removing Problem Members of Your HOA Board

While we would like to think all board members operate perfectly, you may come across some bullies that cause issues within the community. It is important to follow the proper process of removing problem members from the board to keep your association running smoothly.

The quickest and most effective way to remove a problem board member is by vote. The board members and managers will need to know how to implement the removal process according to the association’s bylaws. The board member may be removed with or without cause as normally the bylaws do not require a reason for removal. It is likely necessary for the board to host a special meeting to remove a member of the board, but some bylaws may not require it.

A petition will need to be drafted to call for a special meeting to remove the problematic board member. Your association’s bylaws will determine the amount of signatures needed for the petition. You will also need to verify any requirements your state may have for petitions. Once you have acquired the appropriate amount of signatures, notify members of the time and location for the special meeting. You association’s bylaws may require a certain amount of advanced notice and other specific instructions for mailing out notices.

You will also need to send a letter to the problem board member to notify them of the special meeting. While this letter may be difficult to write, it needs to include all of the pertinent information for the board member to defend themselves if they choose to do so. Lastly, discuss and vote on the removal of the board member during the special meeting. If conducted correctly, the process can be handled with minimal complications.

Wrap Up

While the job of a board member is not easy, it can be a highly valued and rewarding process providing valuable services to a community. Having full knowledge of the conflict resolution process, board resignation, and board removal will make your role as a board member much smoother.

Learn more about our top rated HOA management services today, and contact us to receive a free quote for your community.

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