Serving on the HOA board is a unique experience that brings together volunteers of varying backgrounds and philosophies. Volunteering in such capacity is extremely rewarding, but can also be hard at times especially considering that most board members are simply just volunteers without formal training in HOA affairs. HOA board members must collectively come together to remedy community issues, some of which can be tricky to resolve.
Below are some common issues HOA boards face and some tips on how to resolve them:
- Dues. Every community member who pays dues wants to know that what they are paying is reasonable and that their dues are going to good use. At times it’s hard to collect dues, especially when they have recently been increased or may be higher than other communities in your area. In this situation, it’s important to not compare your monthly membership dues because every community has varying needs and offers different amenities. As dues become an issue, providing a financial breakdown of where the monthly dues go can help. When considering whether your particular dues are reasonable, it’s important to take things like landscaping, amenities, home type, and security services into consideration. Seeing a thorough and specific list of services that are being provided will give you, and other concerned community members, some sense of whether or not your dues are fair.
- Community Involvement. It can be hard to get people involved in HOA governance. People volunteering in any capacity will improve the sense of community and positivity among members. You can create a greater sense of community by organizing events and giving easy, quick opportunities for member engagement and volunteering. Some ideas include pool parties, BBQs, movie or game nights, crafting events, or any other activity that is fun and easy and makes use of your community amenities. Make an effort to reach out to individuals within the community yourself! By becoming friendly and engaging with them, you open the door to answer their questions and encourage them to get involved. Community members who feel valued and have real relationships with one another are more likely to be proactive and involved.
- Legal Issues. It can be hard to know when to make decisions on your own versus when to get a legal team involved. In tough situations, always defer to your HOA manager. Their professional experience and expertise is at your disposal, so use it! Since everyone on the board is volunteering, it is reasonable to expect a lack of extensive knowledge about laws and norms. Ask your community management company for a breakdown of responsibilities. Also, be sure to read and understand all governing documents. If there is something that is unclear or that you don’t understand, ask for clarification. This will help you be prepared and ensure that things run smoothly and conflicts are limited. If you have any shadow of doubt, ask your management company for advice and trust their judgment. Relying on experts minimizes your liability.
- Conflict Resolution. Each HOA has a set of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) that outline how the association operates. Additionally, there are bylaws that govern how the organization works. Challenges are to be expected, especially when working with large groups of people. Given the varying backgrounds and educations of members of the board, there are going to be conflicts when it comes to solving issues. Do what is necessary to get everyone on the same page and move forward with unified decision-making. Issues that you face are not likely to be limited to conflicts between board members. There are bound to be people in your community who blame you for enforcing rules or who become upset when they make requests that you are legally unable, for whatever reason, to comply with. When these issues arise, defer to your HOA management company – let them be your mouthpiece. Your management company is there to solve disagreements and they are experts in conflict resolution.
When challenges arise, don’t despair or assume that you’re doing something incorrectly. Simply keep putting your best foot forward and use all of the resources that are available to you. There is always room for improvement to ensure that things run smoother and are easier for everyone involved.