HOA Board Resources
HOA Board Members are Tasked with Running a Very Small City
There are 4 Desperately Needed HOA Board Resources to guarantee a successful homeowner association.
When you become a member of your homeowners association executive board you have stepped into some very big shoes.
As a HOA board member, you are legally considered a public figure. You have little defense against lies, gossip, rumors, obscene gestures and other personal abuses.
In my first few months as president of our HOA I maintained an open-door policy.
I had wanted to be transparent and helpful to my friends and neighbors. After all, they claimed they only wanted information, honesty and access to participate in community decisions and common improvements.
I abruptly ended my open-door policy after daily visits and phone calls by neighbors demanding personal favors from the association. Some homeowners came two at a time yelling, screaming and crying at each other. They were expecting me to settle their disagreements. Others physically took to throwing things at me. Swearing, cursing and yelling offenses at me and other board members was common.
Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer for such a job with no pay and very little appreciation, except to save the value of their home. It seems insane that HOA board members can be subjected to such treatment. On the other hand I realize the street runs both ways and some board members can be abusive, disruptive, demanding and extremely overbearing.
Thankfully, in the first few days of my tenure I and the HOA board had assembled resources to keep the wheels from coming completely off the old cart.
Top 4 Desperately Needed HOA Board Resources
1 ) Hire the best professional management company your community can afford.
Although the Office of the Ombudsman cannot officially recommend management companies, they are familiar with most management companies and HOA communities. It is well worth the effort to get to know the Ombudsman and their team. You can also search the ombudsman's online records for indications of fines, legal actions and some parts of their investigations into alleged wrong doing at HOAs and management companies.
Do your research and due diligence.
Interview at least three management companies.
Get a list of their references and talk to their existing HOA clients and the vendors they rely on.
Do not simply hire the cheapest or the most well-known. Publicity hogs and conference presenters are not always the most experienced or the most effective management companies
2) Hire a Qualified HOA Attorney or Legal Firm.
Do your homework. Not all attorneys are created equal. Those with big ads and always in the public eye can be the most costly and the biggest disappointment.
Attorneys are paid to provide professional legal advice, legal opinions and court defense. If they fail to do so, look for a different attorney.
Hopefully, your HOA board never has to go to court. but when homeowners sue the association or an attorney letter arrives, get legal advice before taking action or making a decision.
Do not allow homeowners to intimidate the HOA board with petty lawsuits or threats. Fight back, legally.
Do not create a precedent by caving in to greedy money demands by those who shout the loudest.
Remember state law requires that every homeowner, including board members, be treated exactly the same. There are no exceptions.
3) Hire a Reputable Collection Agency
Staying on top of homeowner HOAdues, fines and damage payments is a critical HOA board member duty.
Three Kinds of Delinquent Homeowner Accounts
--Homeowners who fall on hard times and cannot pay their monthly HOA dues.
These homeowners may need to set up a payment plan with the HOA board. Remember, the relationship and final decision is between the HOA board and the homeowner. Homeowner financial agreements are not between the homeowner and the management company.
--Homeowners who simply neglect to pay HOA dues because they have been allowed to get a way with it.
For some reason one homeowner in our community neglected to pay their HOA dues for two years..
Possibly prior boards were mindlessly unaware of the situation or believed they had no power to enforce payment. This particular homeowner was well heeled and owned office buildings in another state. The homeowner only brought their HOA account when our collection agency got involved.
--Homeowners who refuse to pay.
Some homeowners erroneously believe HOA dues are like credit cards and there is nothing the HOA boards can do to enforce payments.
These delinquent homeowners are completely misinformed. Money due to a homeowners association is similar to owing taxes to the IRS. HOA boards are empowered to place liens on the HOA property and may foreclose on the home to collect HOA dues.
Remember when one or more homeowners do not make their monthly HOA dues payment, the burden of paying vendors and other expenses unfairly falls on those homeowners who faithfully make their HOA dues payments.
It is recommended that your management company handle all delinquency reports and keep all the association financial records. Delinquency records are privileged information and cannot be shared with any other homeowner.
A wise and prudent HOA board will keep all financial transactions at arms length, avoid the use of petty cash funds and stay clear of business credit cards.
A wise and prudent HOA board will diligently review all association financial reports, including collection accounts and efforts.
A wise and prudent HOA board will organize and make full use of a homeowner budget committee. This extra set of homeowner eyes protects the integrity of the HOA board and are essential to the community's peace of mind.
4) Subscribe to HOA Board Software
Like other professional HOA board resources, not all HOA Board Software is created equal.
Most HOA software has been built to serve community association managers and is not specific to the specific needs of HOA boards.
When I first became president of our HOA, board members were exchanging up to 200 emails a day. It was impossible to keep track of all the many board tasks and there were no immediately accessible records or association documents. One new board member resigned after just two weeks due to the overload of information and high management demands on their personal time.
Our HOA Board desperately needed a way to seamlessly communicate with vendors, the professional teams and homeowners. It would have to be a system that would effortlessly create a permanent record and automatically coordinate all HOA board member activity. I would also have to provide homeowners the ability to submit maintenance requests and track board responses.
The solution was to build our own HOA Board Software based on the unique needs of the board and the community.
Being an HOA board member is a community management job and can be extremely labor intensive. In all too many cases HOA boards abandon their legal and fiduciary duties and delegate virtually all aspects of the job to management company. A big mistake.
If a homeowner is unwilling or unable to dedicate the many hours needed to be an active HOA board member, they should consider not volunteering. Unfortunately, unavailable HOA board members assure community failure and in some cases complete collapse.