Based on common notions of what homeowners associations and condo associations do, you may think all the board members are bossy people who love telling others what they can do.
While this may be true for some individuals, many board members have the best interest of the community and its property values in mind when they join. Of course, the job does come with the task of enforcing rules, but there is also a lot of responsibility.
As a new homeowner, you may not be quite ready to jump into the role. However, if becoming an HOA board member down the road seems like something you'd want to do, consider the following:
You don't need to be an expert
One common misconception about HOA board members is that everyone who serves is a professional in some field related to the duties of association, whether that be lawyers for the legal side of things, real estate agents for the aspect of home values or business people for the job of running the HOA. Truthfully, the board is a hodgepodge of your neighbors who can come from any number of backgrounds.
It is helpful if you have a background in home inspection services, for instance, when taking a seat on the board, and that experience can make you a valuable asset for the community. However, you can be just as effective if you're a teacher, firefighter or chef. Your commitment to the job will determine how well you perform.
The job requires more than light reading
As a HOA board member, you have to understand every rule and law relating to the association and the city. You also have to stay abreast of any changes and issues that concern the community. Your list of materials to read will include bylaws set by the HOA, legal documents and minutes from meetings.
There can be a lot of meetings
Board members gather for various reasons. Certain meetings are closed to the board so business can be discussed. If your neighbor wants to erect a bronze statue in his front yard, for example, the board may consider the request in private. These meetings may also be to vote on motions for new rules, such as maximum heights or preferred materials for fences.
There are also membership meetings. At these times, the community will express its concerns and make requests to the board.
Before joining the board, consider the time you'll have to devote to these meetings in addition to your other duties. If you spend a lot of time at work or on other activities, it may not be in your, the board's or the community's best interest for you to serve.
There are legal implications
At times, HOAs are targeted by lawsuits. This occurs because the association is responsible for care and maintenance of common areas. Consequently, if community members are injured in one of these areas, they may sue the HOA for damages. Although it is highly unlikely you'll be individually implicated in any lawsuit, you may still have to be involved in the legal proceedings.
Your experience can vary
There's a chance you'll join an HOA that takes little action in the community. On the other hand, you may join a steadfast board that notes every violation and regularly revisits policies to consider amendments. Take some time to understand how your board operates before taking a seat, as its level of commitment can inform you of how much time you'll have to put in after you take the job.