How Healthy Is Your Home-Owners Association ( HOA / POA )?
© Copyright 2011 Sharon Lane
NOTE: ‘resident’ = deeded property owner; ‘convenient place’ = location where ALL residents can easily read/review, either geographic or electronic (internet).
These are guidelines / suggestions, not mandates. Ask yourself if your homeowners’ association does the following:
Board Governance & Duties
- Manage the community by following the governing documents (Certificate of Formation, Bylaws, CC&R’s (Deed Restrictions), etc.).
- Follow the laws and statutes of your state and federal governments, as they pertain to your type of organization.
- Insure that all Association state and federal document/report requirements are completed in a timely manner and filed on schedule.
- Keep all necessary insurance policies and requirements up to date, reviewing insurance needs on a periodic basis.
- Regularly conduct a site inspection to ensure compliance with the covenants.
- Enforce POA rules and covenants in a fair manner. Use written notification by certified mail – include resident hearing/dispute rights.
- Keep a maintenance program & schedule for common areas & facilities and insure that these are completed on time & on budget.
- Award maintenance, management, and ALL outside contracts fairly. Get, in writing, a specification, bid, award, inspection, and warranty program.
- Review all new/updated building & covenant variance requests in a timely manner and insure that all convenants have been fairly applied.
- Maintain effective and consistent leadership throughout your time on the Board.
- Keep board activities transparent and well-published to all POA residents.
- Always remember that you are there to serve, at the will of those you represent, NOT to dictate your own pesonal beliefs.
- Consider the normal succession of Board members by appointing committees, with training sessions for these committee members.
Board’s Responsibility – Resident Participation
- Ask OFTEN, for volunteers and resident participants, in a large variety of jobs or projects with a variety of timetables and schedules.
- Publish a periodic (yearly minimum) request for resident suggestions on what needs to be changed and how they might personally help to achieve that.
- Allow residents to have an ‘open period’ at every board meeting, so that their concerns / suggestions may be shared and documented.
Board’s Responsibility – Meetings, Including Board Election Meetings
- Insure that all residents are able to participate in all POA decisions by making elections & general meetings convenient.
- Publish, in a convenient place, advance notification of all routine meetings.
- Publish, in a convenient place and with considerable advance notification, ALL meetings where changes will be made to the associations ruling documents.
- Insure that ALL meetings have an agenda, published in advance, in a convenient place for all residents.
- Conduct all meetings in a timely manner and according to Robert’s Rules.
- Insure that quorum requisites are met at every meeting where a vote is required or taken.
- Publish, in a convenient place, all Board ‘Minutes of the Meeting’ documents, including all votes taken and their results.
Board Election Meetings Specifically:
- Insure that elections are completed in a legal (per POA, state, & federal laws) and transparent manner.
- Publish, well in advance, and in a convenient place for all residents, requests for resident additions to the election ballots.
- Insure majority of resident participation in Board Election meetings (preferably mailings); including voter ballots and proxy voting rights forms.
- Notate all proxy and absentee ballots with lot/owner information, if needed. This information is to be retained, and available, for board records.
- Insure that annual meeting voting is overseen by independent ‘judges’ from both the board and the residents.
Board’s Responsibility – Finance
- Produce monthly financial reports that are easily viewable by all residents, regardless of geographic location.
- Insure fraud protection measures, including periodically scheduled audits done by independent auditors.
- Formally adopt a budget that avoids large annual increases in assessments.
- Maintain adequate reserves and avoid special assessments.
- Keep assessment delinquencies to less than 5%.
- Insure that all state & federal financial report requirements are completed on a timely basis and filed on schedule.
Board Communications – New & Existing Residents
- Insure that all new residents are given a ‘Welcome’ package, including updated covenants, by laws, rules, forms, contact info, rights and responsibilities, etc.
- Insure that all realtors, brokers, sales agents, etc., in your area, are given a updated versions of this ‘Welcome’ package, either in print or electronic means.
- Utilize all means available, including mailings and electronic venues, to keep residents well informed and up to date on all POA activities.
- Provide an opportunity for ALL residents to address the board through meetings, mailings, and electronic venues.
- Consider publication of monthly newsletters of all POA activities, with distribution by print or electronic means.
Resident Responsibilities – Finance
- Pay all dues, fees, and fines in a timely manner; insisting on official POA documentation of said payments.
- Consider volunteering for POA routine maintenance requirements, to help decrease fund outlays.
- Ask to review all Association financial documents, on a periodic basis, if they are not readily available to you.
Resident Responsibilities – Participation
- If you don’t vote, don’t complain. If you don’t participate, don’t complain! It really is that simple.
- Stay aware and engaged with all activities involving your residence and the Home-Owners Associaiton involved with it.
- Consider a volunteer job on a Board committee to learn about the inner workings of the Board.
- Consider submitting your name for a position on the Board, well in advance of the Board elections.
- Read those newsletters, meeting minutes, annual reports, etc. to insure that you do not miss something important.
- If you don’t agree with Board activities and governance, participate. Take personal responsibility for changing things.
- If you STILL don’t agree, get involved with a group that is working to improve state/federal legislation & laws in your state.
Resident Responsibilities – Duties
- Keep updated copies of the Bylaws, CC&R’s (covenants), and other POA governing documents, and follow them precisely.
- Acquire Board and/or Architectural approval prior to all building projects or exterior modifications.
- Try to resolve discrepancies with the Board in a professional manner, first insuring that you have met all POA requirements.
- Keep your property neat, clean, and well maintained to avoid neighbor disputes and Board fines.
** Last Update: 10/2016
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