You’ve gone from a fully functioning homeowners association (HOA) board to a leadership group with a gaping vacancy. This hampers productivity, causes confusion, and at its worst, may create worry amongst your association members.
But not to fret. HOA Board turnover happens. And if managed correctly, you can fill the opening and get back to business in short order. Below are some tips to help you through the process of filling an HOA Board vacancy.
Chances are, your first move will be defined by some information you already have on hand. Begin by checking your association’s governing documents and your state statutes – they may define how to fill an unexpected HOA board vacancy. How you go about appointing a new board member – and whether their term lasts the lifetime of the vacated board member’s term or until the next election – may be spelled out for you already. (For tips on hosting an election, read more here.)
Remember, you’re on the board because you understand the responsibility your position entails. And it’s not a position you take lightly. To that end, there’s no reason to go about appointing another member simply to fill a void. Your appointee should have the same dedication to service and sense of fiduciary responsibility that the duly elected board members do. In other words, this is not the time to put in a weak link – even if you do feel pressured to fill the open spot. If you take your time to vet the candidates and find the right appointee, it will save you immeasurable heartache in the future.
Do you tell your community members about your board vacancy? In the interest of transparency, yes. But if community input will cause unrest or complications counter to the best interests of the association, you may wish to appoint someone with discretion. Yet in many cases, getting the community involved in the process can be a positive – by communicating the opening to your association, a great candidate may step up to take the role, or a member of your community might nominate someone who wouldn’t have come forth otherwise. Nutshell: you’ll need to carefully gauge the temperature of your specific community before determining how public to make the appointment process.
It’s a delicate balance: while you don’t want to rush through the appointment process (it could prevent you from properly vetting your candidate, or send the wrong message to your community), you don’t want to leave the spot vacant for too long. Short-term appointments – lasting three or four months – are a great way to “test drive” a new candidate. But if you have a meeting coming up soon, and the spot has just been vacated, be wary about hurrying up to appoint someone. This can create an air of secrecy or unfairness that will potentially create trouble in your community.
So what makes an ideal candidate? That depends on your community, your association culture, and the current needs of the board. Making a checklist of candidate requirements will help streamline your process. That way you can efficiently gauge each prospect’s qualifications based on a consistent set of criteria.
All too often, an appointment to a seat on the board is made because the new appointee is a friend. This is common, but it’s certainly not the best practice. Selecting an association member who has a genuine interest in serving, or who introduces a new skill set to the board, is the best way to go. Someone may immediately spring to mind, or you can look to individuals who ran for the position and lost the election by a narrow margin. With this kind of appointee, you have the comfort of knowing you’ll be working with someone who has a genuine interest in the job – and who is backed by a significant portion of your community.
While an HOA board vacancy can feel like it creates some complications, you can navigate your way through the process in a way that yields a quality appointee and a happy community. Just follow the steps we’ve outlined here.