Operating a homeowners association is like running a business. Because there are many different aspects of the business that have to function properly for the business to be profitable, there is a need for expertise and efforts from many different people. Similarly, the board of directors of a homeowners association, even with the assistance of a professional manager, cannot effectively do all that is required for the association to properly operate without the help of the homeowner members. Recognizing that the association directors are unpaid volunteers with limited expertise and time to devote to the operations of the homeowners association, there is a need for help from their association members who possess differing talents that can be contributed to the association through their participation as members of HOA committees.
The number of committees that an association might have is in large part dependent on the size of the homeowners association and the amenities that the association has to manage. Larger associations with many amenities would be more prone to have more committees than smaller associations that have little common area and few amenities. Some commonly utilized committees in both large and smaller homeowners associations include an insurance committee, landscape committee, architectural control committee, and a budget or finance committee. Even though the association’s board of directors remains responsible for the management decisions made by the HOA, the delegation of authority and limited responsibility to a committee to assist in some areas of the association’s operations will be a huge benefit to the association.
When HOA committees are utilized by a homeowners association it is critical that the committee be provided with clear guidelines that define the role of the committee and which will enable prospective homeowner members of the association to determine if they are interested in volunteering their time by becoming a member of a committee. Each committee should have a specific function and for association members to show an interest in becoming involved on a particular committee, they need to be provided with clear information about the committee and what would be expected of them as a member on the committee.
The governing documents for a homeowner association may specify certain committees that the association is required to have and possible requirements relative to any such committees so it is important for the association’s directors to be familiar with all provisions in their governing documents that pertain to committees. The governing documents will also contain provisions that empower the board of directors to create additional committees to assist in the operations of the association. For each desired committee, the association’s board of directors should create and adopt a budget for an amount that is estimated to be necessary for the operations of the committee and adopt a charter that will detail the purposes and responsibilities of the committee. The charter should cover such items as: (i) the appointment of a chairperson for the committee; (ii) the authority of the committee; (iii) requirements and frequency of committee meetings; (iv) requirements for minutes of committee meetings and designation of a person that will be responsible for taking and preparing minutes of the committee meetings (i.e. committee secretary); (v) budget for committee expenditures; (vi) preparation of committee reports to the association’s board of directors; and (vi) such other items as the association’s board deems appropriate for that committee. An example of a charter for an architectural committee may be viewed via the below link.
Once a committee has been established, the directors appoint the members who will serve on the committee. Typically, the directors seek volunteers who offer to serve on a committee and then the directors select the members from those who have volunteered. Some associations require, or permit, directors to also serve on committees. Appointed committee members then serve at the pleasure of the board and are subject to removal from the committee by the board. Typically, new committee members are appointed each year following the election of new directors for the association.
Properly organized HOA committees are very beneficial to the operations of a homeowners association. In addition, committees frequently serve as a great training ground for homeowners who are interested in becoming a future director of the association. By serving as a committee member, homeowners get to learn about the inner workings of the association, develop relationships with current board members and other homeowners and tend to become more involved in their association.
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