What makes a homeowners or condominium owners association “good”? To an outsider, a sign of successful community management may be clean sidewalks, lush landscaping, and pristine parks. However, for residents and property owners, good management starts with a good board of directors.
What is an HOA board?
An HOA is run by a board of directors, typically called the “board”. The HOA board is composed of elected officials who own a home within the neighborhood — hence, the term “homeowners association”. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the association, as well as the enforcement of rules and regulations within the community. They also bear the responsibility of maintaining common areas, such as playgrounds, clubhouses, and parks.
What is a COA board?
A COA, on the other hand, is composed of condominium owners. A COA board is similar to an HOA board, the main difference being that the former governs a multi-family property. Similar to an HOA board, the COA board maintains shared spaces such as swimming pools, gyms, and daycare centers, as well as services including trash collection and landscaping.
Why do associations need HOA and COA boards?
By default, homeowners and condominium owners become members of their respective associations when they buy a property within an HOA- or COA-regulated community. Every association is required to have an HOA or COA board, which includes a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, and so on.
The board is responsible for overseeing the activities of the association. Their responsibilities vary, with some associations being stricter than others. However, the common duties of HOA and COA boards include:
- Maintaining common areas
- Ensuring compliance with the HOA or COA’s governing documents
- Establishing the bylaws, policies, rules, and regulations
- Maintaining accurate records
- Developing annual budgets
- Taking legal action against homeowners who violate the rules
- Ensuring peace and safety within the community
Without an HOA or COA board, homeowners would be free to do whatever they want. With no one to enforce the rules and ensure that the neighborhood retains its charm, the community can become unkempt, unappealing, and unsafe.
Hence, if you own a multi-family property such as a condominium or row of townhouses, you should consider starting an HOA or COA for your community. It’s an excellent way to ensure that property values remain high and that homeowners continue to exercise their right to “quiet enjoyment”.
What are the qualities of a good HOA or COA board?
There’s more to successful association management than simply hiring contractors and collecting dues. When you’re forming your board of directors, there are certain characteristics that you need to consider. Here are some of the qualities that an HOA or COA needs to be considered “successful”:
#1 Be natural born leaders
The board of directors is supposed to govern the community. However, just because someone is a member of the board, doesn’t mean they’re natural-born leaders. Ideally, every member of the board should be an effective leader. Keep in mind that the members are representatives of the association, hence, everyone should be able to step up whenever needed.
The board must be able to think on behalf of the homeowners and create policies that can address common concerns. This is why it’s a good idea to get board members from different age groups. If the board consists of older residents, they may be unable to think about what’s best for everyone.
#2 Make informed decisions
What makes a successful HOA or COA board? Their ability to make informed decisions. An HOA or COA should not propose policies that aren’t based on research or don’t consider the community’s needs. The board of directors should take the time to consider the pros and cons of each decision. Decisions should be deliberated and not made hastily.
Additionally, the board members should be aware of the limits of their authority. The last thing an HOA or COA board wants is to land in legal trouble for unenforceable rules. If your association seems like it needs professional guidance, consider hiring a management company.
#3 Act fairly
Bad board members are the ones that enforce rules against their enemies. If a bad board member has a vendetta against his neighbor, he will constantly be on the lookout for violations while turning a blind eye when his friends are violating the rules.
HOA and COA board members should be able to apply the rules fairly. This means that every resident should abide by the rules and regulations — including the members of the board. Hence, if the president parks his RV in his driveway, plays music too loudly, or throws his trash in the wrong place, he should still be accountable. Members of the board should not abuse their authority.
#4 Be transparent
Another quality of a good HOA or COA board is transparency. They should not be hiding behind closed doors. The board should avoid withholding information from the members of the community except in certain cases. When a homeowner asks to inspect the association’s records (e.g. meeting minutes, governing documents, tax returns), the board must make the records available.
When the HOA or COA board practices transparency, homeowners will be less likely to challenge their decisions. Similarly, it assures the residents that their HOA or COA isn’t slacking around. Remember, when a board becomes secretive, the residents will be skeptical.
#5 Ask for help
The association should admit that they’re not experts. While board members may be able to make decisions on their own, it’s best to rely on the experts. Since it’s unlikely that the HOA or COA board has resident accountants, attorneys, etc., they will have to hire external help.
Many HOAs hire an HOA management company to help them with the day-to-day duties of community management. Although the HOA manager has no authority to enforce rules, impose fines, and so on, they are allowed to assist the board.
As a multi-family property owner, you must ensure that your association provides value to the community. Keep in mind that, ultimately, the HOA or COA board’s role is to retain property values. This means that you should select residents who are qualified and willing to work on behalf of the community.
If your current HOA or COA is having a hard time handling their responsibilities, consider asking an HOA management company for help. Luxury Property Care is one of Florida’s leading association management firms, providing industry-standard practices through our certified property managers.