Avoid These 5 HOA Board Blunders
Fill out the form on this page to download our guide, 7 HOA Email Blunders to Avoid.
“Did he really sign a contract for $100,000 without asking the rest of the board?!”
“That meeting turned into a yelling match – do those board members even like each other?”
Have you heard these board member horror stories? We’ve identified some of the most common HOA blunders (including some you may not know) and are sharing tips on how to avoid them. Partner with your manager and community management company to help you identify potential issues and protect your association’s reputation.
Board Blunder 1: Identity Crisis
“As a board member, what am I really supposed to do?”
Your role as a board member is not to run the day-to-day business (that’s the reason you have a management company). For some board members, a healthy concern and passion for their association can transform into taking on far too many tasks and decisions themselves. Likewise, many are forced to perform day-to-day tasks because of an unresponsive management company.
What to do: Leave daily duties to your management company.
You’re a volunteer, so your time and responsibilities should be respected. Melissa Ramsey, vice president of northern Nevada at FirstService Residential, said, “As a board member, your role is to shape the vision and policies for your community. That means you don’t have to be involved in everything – you just need to make decisions.” Your HOA management company should be completing the daily tasks needed to maintain a successful community, like managing financials, enforcing policies and communicating with residents in a timely manner.
“As a board member, your role is to shape the vision and policies for your community. That means you don’t have to be involved in everything – you just need to make decisions.” – Melissa Ramsey, vice president at FirstService Residential
Board Blunder 2: Going Rogue
“The rest of the board doesn’t care, so I’ll do it on my own.”
When you’re on a board, going rogue is not an option. In fact, if you choose to make a big decision on your own (like hire a vendor or personally reach out to a resident about a violation), you may even be held liable. Additionally, when board members take drastic measures to get things done, they may damage the association’s reputation and create major friction going forward.
In our HOA Health Assessment, 20% of board members said that they have difficulty making decisions as a group and/or are rarely on the same page. Work with your management company to make sure that discussions are centered on the association vision – versus personal agendas.
What to do: Unite with fellow board members.
As a board member, it’s your duty to respect the consensus (whether you 100% agree or not). That means when a decision has been made as a group, you should stand with them and support the policy. Standing united with your board not only helps strengthen those relationships, but also improves your reputation with residents. Also, having a healthy and unified board helps you more easily make decisions and develop policies, leading to greater benefits for your HOA.
Board Blunder 3: Education Limitations
“HOA legislation, policies and best practices are so complicated. I don’t have time to learn everything I need to know.”
The truth is, volunteering as a board member doesn’t make you an HOA expert overnight. Unfortunately, if you don’t understand association best practices and legislation, you won’t be able to make informed decisions with your board. And by not keeping up with new HOA laws, technologies and changes, you may even put your association at risk. For example, if your board unintentionally or purposefully ignores a new law that protects homeowners, you may be held liable if a negative incident occurs.
What to do: Make time for board training.
Going “back to school” is an essential part of being an effective board member and avoiding common mistakes. That’s why your management company should offer board training courses to equip you (and your association) for success. By providing comprehensive board trainings throughout the year on topics like maximizing your budget and preventative maintenance planning, board members will learn how to be more effective in their roles, which will have a positive impact on your association.
Board Blunder 4: Loose Lips
“Maybe I shouldn’t have told Bill about that. But what harm can it do?”
Outside of an official meeting, board members should not be talking about association business, and that includes potential policies, violations and vendor relationships. In fact, the Utah Real Estate Division has policies in place that strongly discourage board members from discussing any official board matters outside of a formal meeting. Even if a comment seems “harmless,” you may be putting yourself or your association at risk, particularly if you’re not on the same page as your board (see board blunder #2).
What to do: Limit HOA conversations to meetings.
Think twice before you discuss business matters outside of board meetings. For both in-person and email conversations, avoid sharing anything that is specifically related to your association or sensitive to residents and board members. Additionally, keep legal issues, attorney opinions, appeals and personal, financial and health information of employees or members off the table.
Board Blunder 5: Getting Personal
“I don’t need to be polite with him. He’s focusing on the wrong issue.”
Many board members take their roles to heart and respond emotionally to resident or board issues that arise. HOA matters are often very personal because of the nature of the industry (after all, it’s your home), but board members should not be using meetings or resident communications (in-person and email) as platforms for personal views and opinions.
What to do: Adhere to policies and be professional.
Create a healthy atmosphere for board members and residents by steering conversations away from personal triggers. If one of your colleagues becomes emotional about an issue, you may want to ask for a break to let them cool off. Make sure your email communications are also professional, avoiding comments that you wouldn’t say to a person’s face. To see more best practices, fill out the form on this page to download our free guide, 7 HOA Email Blunders to Avoid.
Why board blunders matter
Of course, everyone is human and makes mistakes. But you can overcome some of the most common board “blunders” by addressing potential issues now. A seasoned community management company will provide resources, strategies and support to help you successfully do your job.