The Votes Are In & You're Elected!

Tips for what you should you do now that you’re on the homeowners association board.

Well, you decided to get involved. You live in a place with a homeowners association. People urged you to run for the board. Little did you know how easy it would be to get elected. Now that you’ve been voted in, what do you do? Here are five things to keep in mind as a new board member that will help you be effective.

  1. Read the bylaws/rules.
    There is undoubtedly a set of documents pertaining to restrictions within the Association. There’s probably another set of documents pertaining to the association itself. The first thing that you should do as a new board member is to read the bylaws of the Association and become familiar with the rules. 

    Sit down and read the rules.

    Take some time to familiarize yourself with the terms. Use a highlighter and go through them a couple of times. 

    In my work with homeowners associations over the last few decades, I’m always surprised to find board members who are not familiar with the rules. If you don’t know what the rules mean, ask other board members to learn how they work.
  2. Get a feel for the association’s prior actions.
    Now that you have been elected to the board you want to know what’s been going on. Rather than leave it to chance by asking other members of the association, take a look for yourself. Ask the board secretary for minutes from prior board meetings. 

    Reviewing the minutes will give you an idea of the issues the board has struggled with and discussed, and the decisions they’ve made. This will also give you a good idea of what topics come up regularly.
  3. Always seek integrity. 
    As you take a look over the past board minutes, ask: Has everyone been treated in the same manner? 

    After a few years of board operation, one of the challenges many boards face is inconsistency. When certain homeowners see exceptions being made for their neighbors, they expect exceptions to be made for them, too. 

    Seek clear rules. Seek to apply them consistently and fairly to everyone.
  4. Seek to enforce the existing rules. 
    If your board is new, seek to enforce the rules from the start. 

    Unfortunately, some existing boards have to face the fact that certain rules have not been enforced.  If this is the case, the board has to decide to either allow violations, or to draw a line in the sand. 

    Typically, boards wrestle with three P’s: people, parking, and pets. One of the biggest favors a board can do for the community is to enforce all the rules and apply them to everybody.
  5. Set priorities. 
    There may not be much going on this month. There may be a lot going on next month. Surprisingly, homeowners boards deal with a lot of issues. One way you can assist the board is by identifying all the items and prioritizing them. 

    Become familiar with all the issues big and small; keep a list. If the board has employed a management company, get a feel for what the management company handles, and what the board handles. Once the issues are clear, the board can see what needs to be tackled, if anything.

If you keep these five things in mind, chances are you’ll be a more effective board member and others will appreciate your contribution.

Do you have suggestions or tips for newly elected members of a homeowners association board? Let us know in the comments below!

Brian Vincent has over 30 years of experience as a real estate attorney and has worked extensively with homeowners associations. Contact Brian online or at (616) 608-4440 with your questions.

Posted on November 4, 2015 and filed under homeowners association.