How to Run an HOA

March 6, 2023

Joining an HOA board involves several responsibilities but is primarily about proactively ensuring the association is run fairly rather than acting as an observer and simply implementing policies and rules as and when required. This includes facilitating demographic HOA voting on proposals and new board members, avoiding any selective enforcement of HOA rules, and abiding by legislation such as the Fair Housing Act.

If you are new to HOA board membership, you should receive a copy of all relevant governing documentation and a handbook to outline the duties and tasks you should expect to cover. The list below shows some ways to ensure your HOA operates smoothly, efficiently, and properly.

1. Setting Board Objectives

Most established HOAs will have goals and a vision for how the board conducts itself and intends to achieve objectives. There may be several concurrent projects, but deciding which to focus on first is a good way to engage with homeowners, communicate your achievements, and explain why particular initiatives or policies are a priority.

For example, if the governing rules need to be updated and you wish to refresh a condo association approval process, voting community members should be aware of the plan and be able to contribute to consultations.

2. Engaging With Homeowners

An invested homeowner community is key to a successful HOA, with higher participation levels in meetings, events, and elections. Sharing ideas and demonstrating strong leadership shows members their thoughts or opinions are valued and encourages a vested interest in upholding and supporting HOA rules.

Where complaints arise, an HOA board should listen carefully and make clear, fair decisions about the right steps to address violations.

3. Organizing Streamlined HOA Meetings

Where board meetings are lengthy, disorganized, or acrimonious, homeowners are unlikely to wish to be involved or may lack faith in their HOA. Keeping to agendas, having time slots for each item, and appointing a chair to run meetings smoothly is ideal.

HOAs may have slightly varying guidelines, but written or electronic advance notice of meetings, with a pre-established agenda, fosters higher participation as homeowners have time to schedule their calendars to attend.

4. Transparent Communications

Board members should support open communication with all association members, circulating deadlines, policy changes, or other important notices to every homeowner and ensuring details are readily available to all.

Residents can be informed through messaging groups or private social media pages, although best practice policies apply. 

5. Publishing a Budget

The HOA board should draft comprehensive budgets, showing the community how it will allocate funds. Some states have mandatory rules around HOA budgets, which must be published within thirty days of the budget proposal, and circulated to all owners.

If your state does not have specific budgeting regulations, it still makes sense to provide copies to every resident, so they are informed and have faith that the HOA is operating to the highest standards.

6. Fair Policy Enforcement 

Associations have rules for a reason, which should always be followed and imposed where necessary with parity and equal enforcement across every homeowner. If an HOA ignores rules or applies them arbitrarily, it is unlikely residents will take them seriously or may feel that policies have been enforced selectively to single out specific groups or individuals.

While running an HOA can require diplomacy, patience, and time, following these guidelines will ensure you model the behavior and responsibility you expect from association members and deal with any issues quickly, efficiently, and fairly.

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