A competent HOA board is integral to the success of any homeowners association. Thus, it is imperative to establish certain HOA board of directors qualifications in communities. But, what qualifications should you consider?
The Law on HOA Board of Directors Qualifications
Every homeowners association must look at state laws and their governing documents to understand board qualifications. As of now, though, there is no law explicitly specifying who can serve on HOA board. Additionally, many HOA bylaws do not make such qualifications a mandatory requirement for board members. In most cases, the qualifications outlined within the bylaws are only encouraged.
If your governing documents lack any language pertaining to HOA board of directors qualifications, then just about anyone can become one. This includes even non-owners or non-members of the community as well as tenants who are merely renting from owners.
It is important to establish HOA board qualifications within your bylaws to prevent issues down the road. If you have yet to include such requirements, then it is time to amend your bylaws. This process will usually require a majority vote from the membership. To ensure you follow procedure and avoid any conflicts with existing laws or provisions, ask your HOA attorney for guidance.
Keep in mind that HOA board member qualifications must be reasonable to be enforceable. Some examples of reasonable qualifications include:
- Must be a member of the association
- No delinquent dues/assessments or current violations of the governing documents
- Not involved in legal issues (including litigation) with the association
- Must not have a familial relationship or be a co-owner with any other serving board member
- No convicted felonies
Ideal Skill Requirements for HOA Board Members
Homeowners associations come in all shapes and sizes, so no two will ever be exactly alike. The same goes for the bylaws that dictate the HOA board member requirements for every association. Some HOAs have no such requirements at all, and that is understandable when you consider the fact that board members are volunteer positions. There is no guarantee that anyone in your community will have the requirements the HOA is looking for.
Still, it is important to establish some ideal skill requirements in those who are serving or running for HOA board of directors positions. When crafting your own qualifications, consider the following:
1. Educational Background
For many associations, board members need to have at least a high school diploma to serve. In some larger associations, though, the requirement is for board members to have a bachelor’s degree.
Sometimes, smaller HOAs have trouble filling board positions because members lack the required educational background. In this case, you can consider taking local courses on HOA management and operations. Many HOA agencies offer such courses for free.
2. Management Skills
Board members juggle a plethora of duties, including enacting and enforcing covenants, overseeing property assessments, and even filing annual taxes for the association. There are also important documents to manage, administrative procedures to follow, and tasks to delegate.
In many ways, running an HOA is much like running a business. Therefore, board members must possess a certain level of management skill to ensure the success of the entire operation.
3. Accounting and Bookkeeping Knowledge
In addition to management tasks, board members also handle the association’s finances. This includes planning the annual budget, calculating and collecting HOA dues, and keeping up-to-date on all vendor payments. To ensure accuracy and transparency, board members must record these transactions and prepare financial statements showing the association’s fiscal condition.
This is where accounting and bookkeeping knowledge comes in handy. Apart from recording and preparing the financials, board members must also know how to understand and interpret such reports. While expertise in this subject is preferred, a passing knowledge is usually enough if you have the help of an accountant or HOA management company.
4. Communication Skills
Board members are constantly in communication with each other, the HOA manager, vendors, and members of the community. As such, board members must have good interpersonal skills. Disseminating information through email, newsletters, phone calls, or letters are just some of the tasks involving communication that a board member can expect to complete.
5. Computer Skills
A few decades ago, HOA board members did not need to have computer skills. But, with technology the way it is today, more and more associations are adapting to the changes. Nowadays, many communities utilize computers to automate meeting notifications, updates, and even dues collection or payment. If your association does the same, then a working knowledge of how computers and programs work is necessary.
What Makes a Good HOA Board Member?
Beyond talent and skill, HOA board member qualifications should also take certain characteristics into account. A person can possess all the required skills of a board member, but a poor character can render it all useless. In terms of characteristics, here are some of the homeowners association board of directors qualifications you must consider:
1. Willing to Serve
One of the first questions people have when campaigning for HOA board positions is, “Do HOA board of directors get paid?” Board members do not get paid for their service to the association. These are volunteer positions, and receiving payment in any shape or form is not recommended. Good board members have a willingness to serve the community even if the position does not come with any perks.
2. Honest and Transparent
Honesty and transparency are essential traits of board members, especially since they handle the community’s money. Board members should provide financial updates to homeowners in the form of reports. Some states, like California, even make this a mandatory requirement.
Homeowners need to be able to trust and respect the HOA board, and even the perception of misconduct can break that. Board members must always follow the laws and governing documents as well as stay away from any conflicts of interest or fraud.
3. Consistent and Fair
Board members enact and enforce covenants and rules within the community, and they must do so with consistency and fairness. Selective or arbitrary enforcement not only jeopardizes the integrity of the board but is also in breach of the fiduciary responsibility of HOA board members. In all matters and decisions, board members must leave their personal feelings and biases at the door.
4. Works Well With Others
Running an association is not a dictatorship — it is a collaborative effort among all board members and, in some cases, the HOA manager. As such, board members must all be team players.
Collaboration is not limited to the board itself and the HOA management company, though. Board members must also understand that the community’s members have just as much as a right to their opinion. Therefore, board members must ask for homeowner input and conduct regular surveys to gauge their satisfaction level.
5. Puts the HOA First
“Should I join my HOA board?” When faced with this dilemma, it is imperative to first evaluate your motivations. If you genuinely want to serve and improve the community, then joining the HOA board is certainly a step in the right direction. But, if you have selfish reasons, then you do not have what it takes to become a good board member.
Board members should never be self-serving or look for opportunities for personal gain. They must always make decisions that are for the good of the community.
Continued Education for HOA Board of Directors
If you lack the HOA board of directors qualifications, fret not. There are many courses you can take to hone your skills and broaden your knowledge of HOA operations. Many HOA management companies also offer board education and training as part of their services.
Start looking for the best HOA management company today. With the help of our online directory, you can find one that serves your budget, needs, and area.
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