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Should I Join My HOA Board?

Joining your Homeowners Association (HOA) board or Condominium Association board can be a fulfilling way to actively participate in your community and maximize your homeownership. What does that really mean for you, the homeowner, and how does it impact your daily life? Let's break down the ins and outs of being part of the HOA board and HOA management, the benefits and potential challenges, and why your attendance at meetings can make a significant difference.

Understanding the Role of the HOA

An HOA serves as the backbone of a common-interest development (CID), which includes communities like co-ops, condominiums, townhouses, and planned residential areas. It's not just making and enforcing rules, but also about maintaining property values, managing common areas like swimming pools, and ensuring the community's well-being. HOA board members are at the forefront of these initiatives.

Board Membership: What It Entails

Board members are tasked with a variety of responsibilities. They oversee assessments for maintenance, adhere to bylaws, and manage funds like the reserve fund, which is used for significant repairs or emergencies. They ensure that the covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs, of the community are upheld.

Can You Change Neighborhood Rules?

As a board member, you do have a say in the HOA rules. Amendments can be proposed and, with the right support, passed to modify the existing CC&Rs. However, changes must align with state law and the HOA's governing documents, such as the articles of incorporation.

Is There a Cost To Join?

In general, joining an HOA board does not come with a fee, but it requires time and commitment. You'll be involved in regular meetings and decision-making processes on a volunteer basis. There are, however, HOA fees for many neighborhoods and community associations. Both the board of directors and other members are responsible for paying their HOA dues. These can be one-time payments per year or broken down into monthly payments.

Collaboration and Conflict

It's possible you won't always see eye to eye with other board members or property owners. It's best to approach disagreements with a cooperative spirit and a focus on what's best for the community. Effective communication is key in these situations.

Who Chooses the Board Members?

Board members are typically elected by the community's property owners or unit owners. The process is outlined in the HOA's bylaws.

Financial Expertise: Is It Necessary?

While having experience in managing finances can be beneficial, it's not always required. Many HOAs hire management companies to handle complex financial tasks. However, a good understanding of budgets and financial planning is definitely an asset.

Impact on Neighborly Relations

Being on the HOA board could strain relationships with neighbors, especially when enforcing rules. It's important to balance firmness with fairness and always act in the community's best interest.

For-Profit or Non-Profit?

HOAs are typically non-profit corporations. They are not designed to make money but to manage the collective interests of the property owners.

Direct Benefits of Getting Involved

There can be a number of benefits associated with being a board member, including:​

  • Influence: As a board member, you have a direct influence on decisions that affect the community's quality of life and property values.
  • Knowledge: You gain insider knowledge about the workings and financial health of your community.
  • Skills: It's an opportunity to develop leadership and management skills.

There are potential drawbacks as well, such as:

  • Time Commitment: Serving on the board can be time-consuming.
  • Responsibility: You are responsible for decisions that can sometimes be unpopular.
  • Conflict: You may face disagreements with neighbors over community rules and decisions.

Attendance: Your Voice Matters

Even if you choose not to serve on the board, attending HOA meetings is crucial. It's where you learn about the health and direction of the community, and it's your chance to vote on important issues, from landscaping projects to special assessments for major repairs.

Seek Guidance From a Lawyer When Needed

Being on the HOA board is a position of responsibility and opportunity. It's about more than just preserving the status quo; it's about actively shaping the community in which you live. Yes, there are challenges, but the benefits of safeguarding your investment and enhancing your living environment can be deeply rewarding.

Whether you decide to run for the board or simply attend meetings, your involvement is the key to a thriving, well-managed HOA community.

If you ever find yourself uncertain about the legal aspects of your HOA's actions or if you're considering significant changes within the board, it's wise to seek professional advice. Contacting a lawyer who is knowledgeable in real estate and HOA laws can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions and take the right steps forward.

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