Congratulations are in order – you’ve just been elected to the board. So now the big question: What’s next?
“The great thing about associations that are helmed by owners is that they have a vested interest in doing right by their community,” said Kirk Kowieski, CMCA, AMS, vice president of FirstService Residential. “But that also comes with challenges...many board members find themselves in this kind of position for the first time, so there’s a little bit of a learning curve.”
Fortunately, FirstService Residential is here to help. Follow these new board member basics and you’ll soon be governing like a pro.
1. Know your role.
Let’s start with the essentials. If you understand your role completely, you’ll be much more effective and efficient. Basically, your job is to protect the best interests of homeowners, help preserve the value of the homes in your community, and improve the quality of life of residents. As for specific roles within the board, let’s take a closer look.
The board is led and managed by the President. This individual should have a working knowledge of all governing documents (refer to #2 below), as well as the ability to run the business of the association while staying true to the ideals of governing democratically.
Directly underneath the President is the Vice President. This person shares many of the responsibilities as the President and serves in the leadership role when the President is absent. The Vice President will help maintain order, ensure the association’s business is running efficiently and effectively and acts as a knowledge-leader when it comes to the association’s rules.
Next, there’s the Secretary, who is charged with maintaining records, acting as an association historian and protecting the association from liability. The ideal Secretary is an individual who is organized, detail-oriented and committed to the long-term future of the association.
No matter what your specific role, there are some general guidelines to follow that define good board member. Remember, you’re part of a team, and no one board member has greater authority than another. Keep your policies, procedures, rules and regulations sacred and follow them at all times. Base your decisions on facts, not emotion or assumptions. And always keep yourself – and your fellow board members – accountable.
2. Do some homework.
Your next order of business is to make sure you’re familiar with the governing documents for your association. The first of these is the Declaration or Master Deed, which includes the Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (or CC&R’s) and sets forth the responsibilities of the association. It also outlines the rights of owners and their obligations.
Next, you’ll want to be familiar with the Articles of Incorporation, which act as the legal document that creates the corporation as an entity. It also defines the number of directors, the functions of the board and more. Be sure to take a look at your bylaws as well – these are provisions that set forth rules for how the association operates... things like meetings, election procedures and board duties.
Finally, familiarize yourself with all of your association’s rules and regulations – the set of policies adopted by the board. It’s important to note that these rules and regulations should always be in accordance with state and local laws.
3. Make meetings count.
When the board meets, it’s time to get things done. But a poorly run meeting can actually create more challenges than it solves. There’s an art and science to a contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading community association management company.
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