If I Were the HOA President

board members community managers h o a homefront hoa homefront Nov 20, 2023

By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL, HOA Homefront Column

[Dear Readers:  David Brock, owner of a Pasadena management firm, sent me this. His perspective as a highly credentialed (PCAM) manager is unique - a view from the trenches.  If you ever wondered what your manager would like to say to you (if allowed), consider his points, with my comments added after each.]

If I were President of the HOA Board:

1) I would serve only with a full board of people who understand and accept their roles. Unhealthy understanding of the volunteer director role can lead to unhealthy board governance.

2) I would expect that all board members take on a specific task and do it well.  Every director should have a role. Spreading the workload helps avoid burnout and discouragement.

3) I would hold 10 meetings a year, they would last no more than 75 minutes, and be productive and enjoyable. This is a great goal - longer meetings wear out both directors and audience.

4) I would hire the best vendors with the best insurance and track record and expect the best results. Sometimes boards focus so much on the bottom line that they get less than bottom line quality. 

5) I would faithfully follow the reserve study recommendations. Too many associations hurt themselves by not setting aside money to offset the ongoing deterioration of aging common area components. Boards not following the reserve study expert’s recommendations are also wasting the expense of the study and leaving the HOA exposed to the need for loans or major special assessments.

6) There would never be a special assessment. Many special assessments are the result of an association deferring maintenance or not properly planning through funding its reserves.

7) I would not communicate (by email or otherwise) about HOA business with Board members, the manager or owners between meetings, unless it was an emergency. HOA business is best conducted in board meetings, even though a recent appellate case now allows email discussions.

8) I would expect board members to come to all meetings having read the material provided to them a few days prior to our meetings.  Prepared directors make for more effective (and shorter) meetings.  Insist your manager give you a board packet before the meeting - and make sure you read it.

9) I would not tolerate special favors to anyone or exceptions to the Association policies unless absolutely justified and documented. Fairness and equal treatment are signs of a healthy association.

10) I would encourage owners to attend board meetings to address their issues. I don’t want to be a board member between meetings. It’s my home too.  All HOA directors should cheer this observation. Directors should not be on duty 24/7.  Train directors to do their deliberation in the meetings, and train your neighbors to inform you using open forum.

No Association is perfect, but too many associations are a great distance from that mark.  While the above appears extremely ideal, it is to express hope that leading your association can be done differently and with much better results. It is not expected that changes can occur easily or overnight, but change will never occur without taking small steps forward.  Thanks David for your perspective.  Zig Ziglar once said: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”.