Poor governance can lead to a tarnished HOA reputation. Most people join homeowners associations to enjoy benefits like attractive amenities, convenient services, and high property values. However, unresponsive board members, restrictive policies, inefficient operations, and other issues can lead to the breakdown of an HOA. For the success of your community, here are some ways to improve HOA governance.
How to Improve HOA Governance in Your Community
Homeowners associations elect a board of directors to handle the day-to-day operations of the community. Being a board member is voluntary so elected homeowners do not receive any compensation for their service.
While volunteering to be a board member is admirable, there are many cases where HOA boards are not able to govern their community properly. This can lead to issues such as homeowner dissatisfaction, lower curb appeal, selective enforcement.
If you want to maintain structure, peace, and order within your community, here are seven strategies for improving HOA governance.
1. Make Board Succession a Priority
In many HOA communities, there are only a handful of people who serve as board members. They simply rotate positions every couple of years. As a result, the community can become very stagnant. In some cases, incumbent board members are also not very welcoming of change. Thus, the novice board members feel intimidated to speak up and voice their opinions.
To improve HOA governance, associations must make board member succession a priority. New board members can bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives, which could be what your community needs at this time.
If you have talented or skilled members in your community, encourage them to run for a board member position. Even if they do not have prior experience, passionate homeowners can attend training or seminars to learn the basics of community management.
2. Open Communication Lines with Homeowners
Clear and efficient communication is one of the cornerstones of a successful community. Without it, the relationship between board members and homeowners will easily breakdown.
Thus, it’s important for HOAs to have open communication lines with their homeowners. Make sure to respond to homeowners’ emails, texts, calls in a timely manner.
In addition, board members must be transparent with how they are managing the community. The HOA board can send monthly newsletters or updates so that homeowners know what is happening. You can also engage homeowners by asking for their opinions before deciding on certain matters.
3. Fair and Consistent HOA Enforcement of Rules
Selective enforcement is one of the reasons for a tarnished HOA reputation, as well as strained relationships between homeowners and board members. To improve governance, associations must enforce HOA rules and regulations in a fair and consistent manner — regardless of personal relationships.
HOA board members must follow the governing documents when dealing with issues like late payments, rule violations, unapproved architectural changes. All homeowners who violate the rules should be subjected to the standard process. This typically involves an official notice from the HOA and a scheduled hearing with the offender. Depending on the violation, the HOA may levy fines, suspend privileges, revoke rights, or pursue legal action.
4. HOA Policies Must Be Clear and Reasonable
Board members must not create HOA policies that are based on their whims or personal agenda. If you want to have good governance in your HOA, the board should only make policies that are clear, reasonable, and necessary. A new policy should never create additional problems for the community. It should also comply with federal, state, and local laws.
As much as possible, try to include homeowners in the policy-making process. You can discuss the proposed policies during a board meeting where homeowners can voice their opinions. Before amending the governing documents, ensure that you have received a majority vote for these new policies.
In addition, make sure that the new policies are easily enforced. Homeowners should be able to comprehend the new policies quickly and follow them without any issue. Otherwise, you will end up with more HOA violations, which will result in angry and dissatisfied homeowners.
5. Encourage Homeowner Participation in HOA Matters
Ineffective governance can also be due to a lack of cooperation from the members of the community. Many homeowners either have no time or are simply not interested in participating in association-related matters. Thus, dissatisfaction with their HOA could be because of their lack of involvement.
If you want to improve HOA governance, encourage homeowners to participate in various aspects of community association management. For instance, you can increase board meeting attendance by giving homeowners adequate notice and publishing the board meeting agenda ahead of time. HOAs should also encourage their members to join different committees. You might discover skilled homeowners that can help improve curb appeal, streamline operations, or reduce maintenance expenses.
6. Delegate Financial Management Tasks
Financial management is also important in ensuring the success of the HOA. After all, the HOA needs money to maintain amenities, pay for utility expenses, and pursue projects that increase property values. However, financial tasks such as accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting, and financial reporting require technical skills and knowledge that most board members may not have.
In order to keep the community running optimally, board members may want to hire professional financial services. With the community’s finances in check, board members will have more time and resources to keep the community beautiful, well-maintained, and peaceful.
7. Collaborate with an HOA Manager/Property Manager
If poor governance is mainly due to a lack of time, manpower, and resources, associations may benefit from collaborating with an HOA manager or a property manager.
The manager will serve as the primary contact between homeowners and board members; thereby ensuring that communication lines are always open.
HOA or property management companies will also handle the time-consuming aspects of community management — such as accounting, bookkeeping, collections, and maintenance. With these essential tasks taken care of, the board members can focus on improving HOA governance and strengthening relationships with homeowners.
Roles That Board Members and Homeowners Play in HOA Governance
Owners pay a lot of money to be part of an HOA community. Thus, they can’t help but feel angry or disgruntled if the HOA is not being governed properly. Poor governance can be due to a lot of reasons — and both board members and homeowners play equal roles in this matter.
Homeowners must hold their board members accountable while board members must remember to uphold their duties to the HOA. If you want to make changes in your community, consider these seven ways to improve HOA governance.
If your community needs further assistance, feel free to browse our online directory of HOA management companies, property management companies, and real estate agents.