It is important to outline the many issues of HOA board members in community associations. By understanding what these issues are and how they affect HOA management, board members can learn to avoid or overcome them. In doing so, boards can manage their associations with more thought and preparation, allowing their communities to thrive.
What Are the Issues of HOA Board Members?
In a lot of ways, homeowners associations operate like small governments. At the helm of each community, a group of volunteers known as the HOA board calls the shots. Just like governments, though, the leaders of HOA communities face daily challenges throughout their tenure.
Here are the most common issues faced by HOA board members.
1. Lacking in Education
The HOA board is made up of homeowners who volunteer to serve the community. Although they are voted into office through an election, they don’t often have experience managing an association. They might have experience in various professional fields, but those skills don’t always transfer to HOA management. As such, a lot of board members lack proper HOA education.
Fortunately, it’s easy to overcome this challenge. Board members can learn about community management through online resources. The Community Associations Institute (CAI) also provides plenty of learning opportunities online. Beyond that, many HOA management companies offer training for board members.
2. Balancing Conflicting Interests
Balancing conflicting interests is another one of the challenges of HOA board members. Residents tend to want different things and have differing opinions on issues. Thus, it can be difficult for board members to make calls that will satisfy everyone.
Board members need to accept that they can’t please all the homeowners every time. You must strike the proper balance in your decision-making. When weighing solutions, always put the community’s best interests first.
3. Maintaining Community Standards
Homeowners associations usually have rules that aim to maintain the appearance and character of their communities. From keeping well-trimmed lawns to ensuring noise levels remain acceptable, boards must enforce these rules to maintain the community’s order.
Enforcement, though, is not always easy. Homeowners may fight the HOA and even refuse to remedy their violations, resulting in disputes. Faced with such challenges, the board should remain steadfast. It’s important to enforce the rules uniformly and resolve any conflicts that may arise along the way. This way, your board can keep up with its fiduciary duty.
4. Managing Finances
One of the most difficult things about running an HOA is managing its finances. This covers a wide range of topics, from preparing budgets and collecting dues to maintaining reserves and allocating funds for expenses. More often than not, boards don’t have a background in financial management, which is where most problems stem from.
It’s a good idea to have someone on the board who has financial management experience. If that’s not possible, outsourcing the task to a professional is always an option.
5. Dealing With Legal and Compliance Issues
Just like any other organization, an HOA must comply with various legal requirements. There are federal, state, and local laws that apply to associations. Additionally, every HOA has its own set of governing documents that it must adhere to.
To steer clear from liability, board members must keep themselves in the loop when it comes to these legal requirements. Hiring a lawyer with experience handling HOAs is also worth the investment.
6. Enforcing Rules Consistently
Board members have a responsibility to enforce the rules in a consistent and fair manner. When you enforce the rules selectively, an argument may be made that the very same rules become unenforceable. Moreover, board members may find themselves in legal trouble if a homeowner decides to take the matter to court.
Be careful about enforcing the rules in a selective manner. You should never favor one homeowner over another. Never give in to your biases or retaliate against a homeowner using a violation. Even you, as a board member, aren’t exempt from the rules.
7. Communicating and Promoting Transparency
Proper communication is one of the foundations of good governance. If you want to promote transparency, gain the trust of homeowners, and instill camaraderie among residents, you must set an example as a board member.
Always communicate with homeowners in an open manner. Keep them updated on decisions, new policies, and new projects. If they bring up a concern, acknowledge it and do your best to resolve it, though you should also accept that you can’t solve everyone’s problems sometimes.
8. Engaging Residents
Many HOA boards have trouble getting residents involved in the community. While this can be due to apathy, it’s mainly because boards don’t make an effort to engage. When you have low engagement in your HOA, there’s a good chance you’ll find it hard to attract volunteers, too.
Encourage residents to participate in meetings and social events. Plan fun community gatherings that allow neighbors to get to know each other. And, as a board member, don’t forget to mingle with them personally as well. It really goes a long way.
9. Resolving Conflicts and Disputes
One of the toughest issues of HOA board members is conflict or dispute resolution. In any community, conflicts are bound to arise. Disagreements are just a normal part of society. But, board members must not let these disagreements build and grow out of hand. Adopt an internal dispute resolution strategy and, when it fails, don’t be afraid to seek alternative dispute resolution methods.
10. Keeping Up With Changing Regulations and Trends
The HOA industry is an ever-changing landscape. Laws and practices change and fluctuate all the time. Board members should remain up-to-date on all of these changes to minimize their effects on the association. When you take on the role of a board member, you should never stop learning.
11. Finding and Retaining Competent Volunteers
Many communities have a hard time attracting volunteers to serve on the board or committees. They also find it difficult to retain these volunteers. Most of the time, these challenges stem from a lack of time on the part of volunteers. After all, serving on the HOA board can eat up your schedule.
One way to encourage involvement is to educate homeowners. Let them know what responsibilities they can expect to take on and how rewarding the experience is. You should also be transparent about the time commitment the job entails. If they’re still feeling hesitant, start them off with something smaller like joining a committee.
12. Managing Vendor Relationships
Homeowners associations won’t survive without vendors. Many HOAs rely on third parties to provide various services such as cleaning, maintenance, and landscaping.
Vendor management, though, isn’t so simple. Board members must assess and choose trustworthy and capable vendors. They must also negotiate contracts, evaluate ongoing work, and stay within the allocated budget. Maintaining vendor relationships while simultaneously balancing other aspects of community management can be taxing.
13. Adapting to Technology and Digital Platforms
Gone are the days of pen and paper. The digital age is in full swing, and associations must adapt to this shifting landscape. Board members must be open to utilizing technology and taking advantage of software to support open communication and documentation. Technology can also help automate administrative tasks, making it easier for the board as a whole.
An Effective Leader
When it comes down to it, these issues of HOA board members can be conquered with proper training. You also need good leadership, communication skills, and a willingness to learn. These are the things that make for an effective board member who can overcome challenges and balance the demands of homeowners at the same time.
HOA boards don’t have to go at it alone. With the help of an HOA management company like Cedar Management Group, board members can simplify processes and streamline solutions. Call us today at (877) 252-3327 or contact us online to request a proposal!
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