It’s hard to manage HOA politics when you don’t know where to start. Whether you’re a homeowner intent on running for a board position or a board member on your first day on the job, here are the things you should know about HOA daily politics.
In this article:
Understanding Day-to-Day HOA Politics
In many ways, a homeowners association is much like a small country or state. It has a board of directors managing it and a set of governing documents dictating what these directors can and can’t do. In most associations, the HOA board consists of four core roles: the President, the Vice President, the Secretary, and the Treasurer. The first step in managing HOA politics is understanding these four roles and what their duties are.
- President. The President leads the board and the community in all matters. They run meetings, execute contracts, and is the main point of contact for the HOA management company.
- Vice President. The Vice President assumes the role of President when the latter is, for any reason, unavailable. As such, the Vice President must know how to handle the responsibilities of the President.
- Secretary. The Secretary fulfills many responsibilities, including setting meeting agendas (with the President), recording meeting minutes, and sending notices to homeowners. In addition, the Secretary maintains the association’s records and co-signs important documents with the President.
- Treasurer. The Treasurer is in charge of all things financial. They oversee HOA finances, prepare budgets, and lead finance committees.
Of course, not all homeowners associations are made equal. Therefore, one association’s board members may have specific duties that differ from another’s. One thing that doesn’t change, though, is the board’s duty to the community. As an HOA board member, you have to fulfill your fiduciary duties and prioritize the community’s best interest. You must enforce rules consistently and without bias, and you must ensure property values are well-maintained.
Dealing With Conflicts in the Community
Conflict resolution is a normal part of your job as an HOA board member. You encounter conflicts almost on a daily basis. Whether that conflict exists within the HOA board itself or outside of it, you must know how to deal with conflict when it arises.
The first thing you must do is acknowledge the other person’s opinions. Give them a chance to explain their side and let them know you hear them. Then, apologize. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the wrong. Sometimes, even just apologizing for the misunderstanding can do wonders to repair the damage. After that, let them know that you and your fellow board members will discuss the matter at the earliest.
When looking for a solution, make sure to consider long-term effects. Go with the solution that works for all parties without sacrificing the community’s interests. When in doubt, check your governing documents and your HOA lawyer. Then, as the cherry on top, notify the other party that you’ve reached a decision. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention.
What About Board Members Leaving?
Generally speaking, board members leave the HOA board in one of two ways: because they want to and because others want them to. If you want to resign from your position, for whatever reason, these are the steps you should take:
- Write an official notice of resignation and include the date of effectivity.
- Send the notice of your resignation to community members.
- Help the HOA with the transition process by training your replacement.
On the other hand, some board members might be doing more harm than good, leading to homeowners (and even fellow board members) to want to remove them. If you want to remove a board member from their position, check your state laws and governing documents for the proper procedures. You can usually find these provisions in your HOA bylaws.
Generally, though, the process begins with drafting a petition to hold a special meeting with the purpose of removing the board member in question. Don’t forget to send a notice to the board member you wish to remove, informing them of the meeting and its purpose. Allow the board member to defend themselves before holding a vote at the special meeting.
Additional Tips for Managing HOA Politics
As soon as you’ve been elected or appointed to an HOA board member position, you can expect to get involved in some HOA politics. The unfortunate reality is that, while you’ll have residents that agree with and respect your choices, you also have those in the community who aren’t afraid to voice their disagreement.
And that just comes with the territory. But, there are some techniques you can use to make sure you’re effectively filling your role for the best of the community and addressing needs or disapproval the right way. Here are some of the best ways to manage these politics while serving on your HOA board:
1. Be Specific About Goals
A board without goals can’t possibly know which direction it wants to go. Decide on exactly what you’d like to get done this year, and how you plan to do it. Make a plan that is specific and detailed before sharing it with your community.
2. Keep Everyone in the Loop
Communication is a foundational tool for HOA success. Make sure to communicate with your residents frequently and soon after a decision is made. Offer updates as much as you can, preferably on your HOA’s website or member board.
3. Encourage Feedback
Often, members just want to know their voices are being heard. Ask for feedback often and encourage volunteer members to help in the process of any changes being made. In nothing else, feedback lets your board know it’s doing its job well.
4. Have Public Meetings
We all know getting members to show up to board meetings is hard but invite them anyway. Send out meeting dates far in advance, and send reminders. Include minutes and financial reports in your HOA newsletters and website so everyone has the information they want available. Work with your HOA manager to encourage more participation.
5. Focus on What’s Best for the Community
Even if certain decisions are not completely in line with what you think, remember that the whole community’s best interests are the priority. Even if you have to enforce rules that are different than what you’d choose, remember your role for those in the community.
Politics Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
It’s important to know the ins and outs of day-to-day politics within an association, especially if you’re a board member. After all, knowledge plays a key role in determining how successful your community is. Although HOA politics can be difficult to comprehend at a glance, there’s really nothing to it if you take the time to understand it.
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