There are four main positions that serve on an HOA Board: The President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. Depending on the community needs and governing documents, it may be necessary to have additional members. If you’re considering running for a position on the Board, it’s a good idea to have a clear picture of what each member does and what the expectations are in regard to the role. We will take a look at each one in more detail so that you can get an idea of which officer position is the best fit for you.
The person at the top is the HOA Board President; Much like how a company is operated under the leadership of a CEO, so is the operation of a community. This elected individual is responsible for the supervision and handling of many procedural duties as it relates to the HOA. The man or woman who fulfills this role should be knowledgeable of the community’s CC&R’s (Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions) and bylaws. Another important part of being the President is to conduct and run effective meetings. As the authority on implementation of all governing documents, the President can appoint committees if allowed by the Association bylaws.
Because the HOA Board President leads community meetings, the role is best suited for someone capable of handling such responsibilities as calling the meeting to order, announcing the meeting agenda, ensuring adherence, maintaining order within the meeting, calling for votes and/or announcing the results of a vote, proposing questions and identifying others in attendance to speak on the floor.
Consider the following qualities as necessary when fulfilling the role of HOA Board President:
- Attention to detail – Thoroughly reading through documents, understanding finance and learning about the wants and needs of the community are a large part of this role so attention to detail is extremely important.
- Comfortable in front of people – As the leader of meetings, you should be confident and positive about your role and the community in which you live.
- Honest and fair – Enforcing the rules and regulations is not easy, so it requires an individual who can be law abiding without bias.
- Leadership skills – The ability to delegate is an important part of serving as the HOA Board President. One person cannot do it all, so a good leader has to make the most of his/her community members.
- Commitment – The President should be committed to offering their best to bettering the community for the sake of all its members: current and future.
- Ability to take criticism – Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to make everyone happy all of the time. The HOA President should be able to take criticism constructively, rather than personally.
- Organization and balance – Documents, meeting, minutes and more require a person who understands organization. It’s also important to remember that as the President, you are also an owner and it’s necessary to be find the balance between professional and personal relationship with the Association’s members.
- Good Communication – Communication is key to every relationship, but good communication goes a long way when serving as the HOA Board President. While the Associations’ secretary is responsible to communicate to the homeowners via email and/or monthly newsletter, the President should also be capable of communicating with members. In addition, because the President serves as the public face of the community, he or she must be capable of talking to potential buyers, realtors and property management companies.
The President and Vice-President share many of responsibilities regarding leadership and procedures. In addition, the Vice-President fulfills the role of the President when the President is unable to do so. He or she is also responsible for maintaining order during meetings and any parliamentary procedures. This ensures that business is conducted appropriately and on task. The Vice-President should also be well informed regarding the Association’s rules, governing documents and bylaws. The qualities recommended for a Vice-President are similar to those of the President.
The HOA Board Treasurer is responsible for the Association’s funds, financial records and securities. The individual serving as the role of Treasurer oversees the billing, collecting and disbursing of funds; He or she is also responsible for coordinating the Association’s proposed annual operations budget and allocations for reserves. Monitoring the budget and also reporting the Association’s financial standing throughout the year, overseeing any required audits and the year-end reporting are also done by the Board Treasurer.
In communities that are self-managed, the financial responsibilities are often held by a professional property management company. In these developments, the treasurer is in charge of making sure all the Association’s funds are collected, invest, disbursed and reported completely and accurately to remain in compliance with governing documents and Association’s bylaws at all times.
Related: Getting to Know your HOA Documents
While the entire Board has fiduciary responsibility to the community, the Treasurer must be able to specifically analyze and comprehend financial information. So, what makes a good Treasurer?
Here are the qualities that all good Association Treasurers have in common:
- Connected to community – It’s important for the Treasurer to stay up to date on the community financials, not just come out of the woodwork at budget time. Being invested in the community and what effects the financials can have is an important part of the role.
- Detail oriented – An Association’s Treasurer should be detail oriented, but not a micromanager. By taking charge of overseeing financial details like record keeping, insurance, investments, delinquencies and collections, he or she should make sure that a vendor is paid, but should not follow them around the property checking on them, for example. If you have a professional management company, the Treasurer will work closely with them.
- Long-term financial lens – One of the primary responsibilities of the Treasurer is to develop and review the annual budget and oversee the reserve funds, having the ability to see the big picture is crucial. Assisting to identify long term goals and how to accomplish them will be a key characteristic of this role. This often means making tough recommendations like increasing assessments in order to prepare for the future and adequately fund reserves. Failing to properly fund reserves is one of the biggest mistakes an association can make. Unfortunately, inadequate funding is a problem for many associations.
- Willingness to learn – No matter what the experience level of the Treasurer, the community’s property management company is there to assist. Because he or she will not necessarily always be an accountant, the responsible party need to be willing to take direction.
- Educate other Board members – Not all community members have a clear understanding of the fiscal responsibilities associated with serving on the Board. It’s important for the Treasurer to teach the Board and homeowners the proper use of funds and appropriate opportunity of working with the professional property management company.
- Communication skills – It’s critical for the treasurer to have a good working relationship with the onsite property manager, as well as the community financial support team. Maintaining an open dialogue with the members of the support and all support personnel will be essential to the success of the individual in this role.
The HOA Board Secretary maintains the official minutes of meetings and recording documents. Reviewing, updating and organizing the necessary governing documents, as well as community distribution documents such as agendas, notice of meetings and newsletters is the primary role of Secretary. In addition, the secretary ensures the association meets all necessary deadlines and documentation requirements per the state or federal laws and/or CC&R’s. It is common for the Secretary to provide notification to homeowners of official meetings as well as any additional authorized representatives.
Think you have what it takes to be a good HOA Board Secretary? Consider these characteristics:
- Organizational skills – Not only keeping track of paper documents, but also electronic ones; keeping clear and well-organized minutes of meetings and monitoring deadlines make this an essential quality of a good Secretary.
- Friendly Communication – Because the Secretary often communicates with the homeowners and may be the liaison between the HOA Board President and members, at times, being able to communicate in a positive and friendly way will be beneficial.
- Initiative – A good Secretary should be able to take initiative when it comes to making and keeping deadlines, sending out correspondence to the homeowners and coordinating efforts within the entire HOA board.
- Creativity – Having a flair for creativity is useful, but not necessarily essential. When it comes to ramping up meeting attendance or creating a visually appealing newsletter, a little artistry and creativity can go a long way.
If you feel like one of these roles would be a great fit for you or someone you know, learn how Board members are elected to take the next step!
How are Board members elected?
Strong leaders are essential to a well-organized and operated HOA. To ensure the community has ongoing success, it’s important for the individuals in these roles to change every few years. Elections are held, usually during the annual meeting. While some procedures may vary by the Association’s bylaws or state mandates, nearly all eligible homeowners who would like to be considered for election may run. In accordance with local laws, all homeowners should be notified in advance for the date, time and location of the upcoming election. All votes are also to remain anonymous and private. Homeowners are allowed to vote for Board members in one of three ways – by mailing in their votes before the election, by attending and casting their vote in person at the election meeting, or by proxy (allows another member to attend and vote on behalf of the absent party).
Because the overall purpose of the HOA Board is to represent the community, the interests of the Board members as it relates to the property should be reflected in their commitment to the role and responsibilities they have been elected to fulfill.