Serving as an HOA board member is a rewarding challenge, especially if this is your first time! The more prepared you are for the expectations of the role, the more confident you’ll feel. There’s certainly a code of conduct you should be committed to upholding.
Also referred to as a code of ethics, this will help provide a guide, ensuring you can work together as an effective HOA board of directors.
When discussing what this code of conduct (or ethics) should be comprised of, it may be helpful to refer to the Community Associations Institute (CAI). They describe the responsibility of the board members as “a commitment to fostering a climate of open discussion and debate, mutual respect, and tolerance between all who live in, work in, and visit our community.” The CAI Civility Pledge also includes information that will be helpful to create a code of conduct that works for your particular association and its members.
Here are some of the core principles to consider when drafting your code of conduct:
While not all the members of your board may be experienced in every aspect of their role, you can still reflect professionalism and respect. Maintaining an open dialogue between the board and members of the association will create an atmosphere of professionalism and mindfulness. By interacting with homeowners, lawyers, contractors, community managers, and fellow board members in a professional way, setting aside any personal differences, you can help foster relationships that will be more productive and successful.
Using the community’s governing documents as your roadmap for serving as a board member is key. It’s extremely important for you to be familiar with the bylaws, rules and regulations, CC&R’s, and any other legal document that is pertinent. Homeowners should feel confident that the members of their board are strictly compliant with all rules and regulations.
Recognizing that every member of the board also has a life outside of the role they have volunteered for should be taken into consideration when scheduling meetings and expectations. It’s also important that each member recognizes the importance of their role and is committed to participate. When each individual is accountable to their membership and role, the board will be more successful.
Avoiding Conflict of Interest
If any board member has a conflict of interest in regard to decisions being made, that particular member should excuse themselves from that vote. In addition, board members should not have a financial interest in any relationships with outside contractors.
No Tolerance for Discrimination
There should be absolutely no discrimination by any board member toward another board member or HOA member. The code of conduct should clearly define any member being found guilty of discrimination should be immediately removed. Fostering open and unbiased relationships toward one another will ensure the atmosphere is inclusive.
Complete confidentiality of the board members in an association is an important part of the code of conduct. Whether it is in regard to a homeowner, board decisions, or interactions with owner litigation, maintaining confidentiality is key.
In the event that the board needs to hire outside contractors, the code of conduct should clearly specify the procedures for how this should be done. The process of obtaining a bid, reviewing the work, and following through with a vote will be a more simple and consistent process if all members of the board are educated on what the process will look like.
It’s important for board business to be discussed only at board meetings when all members are present. Board members should not conduct any HOA-related business outside of those meetings, including an effort to intentionally exclude other board members that may have differing viewpoints.
The code of conduct should establish expectations for board members to consider the opinions and that of the homeowners as essential to fulfilling their role. Sharing goals among the board and with members of the community help to invite homeowners to become engaged and work together in a way that benefits the association as a whole.
Creating a code of conduct and familiarizing yourself with its content will provide all board members with a framework to fulfill their roles more successfully. Once your code of conduct has been established and you are comfortable with its expectations, you can now embrace your part in serving as a member of the HOA board in your community. To learn more about your responsibilities as a board member, sign up for our online certification course for HOA board members today.
Related: To get more HOA Management tips, subscribe to Spectrum Association Management blogs today!