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Success by committee – you may have heard the expression, but do you know how homeowners association committees can help Board members achieve success?  Let’s start with the basics, a committee definition:  an HOA committee is comprised of homeowners who analyze issues and help make recommendations to help reduce Board members’ responsibilities.

While some Board members are elected to their roles with the professional knowledge and/or previous HOA experience they need to perform successfully, others have little or no knowledge or training in community association governance.  But no matter their prior experience, they must juggle their HOA responsibilities with obligations to their families, jobs, hobbies, civic involvement and other personal interests and responsibilities. 

Associations sometimes hire property management companies to handle all of their community’s day-to-day community operations and management responsibilities, under their direction.  But even when communities are professionally managed, Board members may have ongoing community issues that need to be addressed, as well as one-off issues that arise over during the year.  That’s where Advisory Committees come in – helping Board members by providing a good perspective and understanding of the topic at hand. 

In addition to providing valuable assistance to the Board, committees also involve more shareholders with personal experience in the governance process, resulting in in a stronger, more involved community.  As a bonus, they provide committee members with valuable association governance, making them a hands-on training ground for new community leaders.

Effective committees can be your community’s lifeline, so if you need a helping hand, consult with a seasoned Board member or a good property management company for guidance.  We’ve also put together some basic facts and guidelines on committees to help.  Ready to position your Board for success by committee? Read on…

What is a committee and what does a committee do?  

As we mentioned, HOA committees assist Board members by addressing specific community issues and tasks and serving in an advisory role for the benefit of the community.  As a general rule, they gather information, assess problems and recommend solutions to the Board.  What types of committees can they get involved with?  Depending on the community, it may have committees that deal with issues like finance, communications, repair and maintenance, buildings and grounds, landscaping, swimming pools, violations, covenants enforcement, violations, litigation, communications, architectural review, social programming and more.  

Learn how board members like you are communicating to residents and committees in our Communication Survey Results Report.

Types of committees

Generally, associations create two types of committees:  standing and ad hoc.  Standing committees are permanent committees that meet regularly to handle ongoing tasks – for example, those mentioned in the previous paragraph.  Ad hoc committees are short-term, temporary committees formed to handle specific tasks, like developing a new operating plan, amending the community association’s bylaws or solving an issue currently impacting the community and/or its residents.

How to form a committee

Most homeowners associations allow the creation of committees, as stated in their governing documents.  According to the documents, the Board may be authorized to determine important factors like qualifications for members, the member selection and removal process and how large or small the committee should be.  Which leads us to…

Committee size. 

Committees can range in size from one individual up to whatever number of members the Board deems acceptable.  But size does matter – like many types of groups, committees can become unwieldy and hard to manage if there are too many participants involved.  Typically, HOA committees range in size from one to five members, depending on the task, and average somewhere right in the middle.

Committee structure. 

How should your Board organize its committees?  There is no set standard, but committees are most effective when they fit the needs of the association and community and are aligned to Board members’ strategic priorities. But no matter how they’re set up, every committee needs a mission, purpose, a strong leader, a sound agenda and a clear statement of goals and responsibilities.  Want to know more?  Read on…

Committee charter. 

Once your HOA Board forms a committee, it should create a committee charter – a written document that defines its duties and responsibilities – and those of its members.  It also establishes the relationship between the Board and the committee and spells out the committee’s limitations – such as what expenses it can accrue and actions it can take.  But it’s a good idea for the Board to not be overly restrictive – you don’t want to thwart your committee from achieving its goals.  But it’s worth repeating that committees are primarily in place to provide Board members with additional perspective.

There are many tasks and responsibilities that go into effective community management, but HOA Board members don’t have to go it alone.  When committee members work in tandem with Board members to shoulder some of the duties, they help strengthen both the association and the community – and that’s a win-win for everyone.  For more information about committees – and how they can help Board members perform more effectively – contact FirstService Residential
Tuesday October 13, 2015