Board members in a homeowners association play a crucially important function: they are responsible for guiding the direction of the association, making fiscally responsible decisions, and overseeing the complex logistics involved in successfully running the association. Their primary goals are to protect property values and promote a sense of community throughout the HOA.
Board elections are always general elections, meaning individuals run for a seat on the board, not a specific position. Once all board members are elected, it’s up to the board itself to determine who will perform which duty.
Each board member performs unique and important tasks; however, no specific document or state code rule explicitly states the duties of each member. Instead, board member roles are based on best practices and may vary slightly by association.
Community association management companies, like Keystone, usually conduct post-election “new board member orientation” training sessions to educate and inform board members on their new responsibilities.
So, what exactly does each member of an HOA board do? Read on to find out.
The HOA board president fulfills a few important duties. First, they are the liaison between HOA boards and community association management companies. The president is responsible for channeling comments from the HOA to the management company and information from the management company back to the board and association. This function is key since multiple voices and opinions from a board can inhibit effective HOA management.
The president also presides over the association’s board meetings, unless they delegate this duty to another party (the HOA management company, for example). Again, a single individual must be in charge of handling meeting logistics to ensure an orderly procedure. That said, just because the president oversees the flow of the board meetings does not grant them any special priority or privilege over association business. Their vote carries the same weight as any other board member.
Like all board members, the president will also possess signing authority on the association’s banking accounts.
HOA Vice President
The vice president’s main role is to act in the president’s place if the president is unavailable. It’s unreasonable to think that one person will be available at all times, so the vice president role adds an important layer of support. The vice president should be familiar with all the duties listed above, so they can slot in seamlessly into the role in the event the association president is temporarily unable to complete certain tasks.
Treasurers are responsible for overseeing the association’s fiscal health and work closely with the community association management company to ensure the HOA maintains a stable financial footing. The HOA’s treasurer usually assists with the budget process, reviewing the association’s monthly financials and reporting this information in brief to the board. Treasurers are also usually tasked with approving invoices and signing association checks. HOA treasurers need not possess any special financial management experience before serving on a board, though many do.
At Keystone, we provide treasurer training to educate incoming treasurers on important skills such as reading balance sheets, interpreting the association’s financial metrics, determining how much cash to keep on hand, and how to correctly structure the association’s reserves.
The board secretary manages much of the administrative paperwork flow, along with support from the association’s management company. The secretary will review board meeting minutes prepared by the management company and may act as the principal signer on association documents, such as legal or banking documents.
HOA Member at Large
This fifth board member bears no special role, except to attend board meetings and submit a (potentially tie-breaking) vote on association matters. Though there are no commonly ascribed duties for this position, individual boards may decide to task this board member with specific responsibilities. Each HOA board handles this role differently, based on the needs of their association.
What is “apparent authority”?
Board members have “apparent authority” over association decisions, which means they carry no authority as individuals – but absolute authority when voting collectively.
Board members have zero power to review, approve, or weigh in on association business on their own. Support from a board member on a personal level regarding a particular issue bears no greater weight than any other association member. That said, when the board votes collectively and reaches a decision, that decision bears absolute finality, even if any individual board members are opposed.
The only time an individual may possess their own authority is if the board explicitly grants it. For example, boards may grant authority to their community association management companies to purchase certain items for the association without receiving prior approval or interface with vendors on behalf of the association.
Serving on an HOA board is a big responsibility, especially for a group of volunteers who often possess no previous experience overseeing a non-profit mutual benefit corporation. However, when guided by seasoned and responsive HOA management professionals, new board members can get up to speed quickly and hit the ground running.
Have questions about the roles and responsibilities of your HOA board? Our community management experts are here to help.