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Participation is required for HOA members, boards

Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series of columns explaining the roles of homeowners, management companies and homeowners association boards.

I have had so many conversations with new homeowner association board members and how they work with homeowners and management companies and how they see themselves in their roles. I thought I would address this in a series of columns.

What are the roles of the homeowners, management and board of directors in a homeowner association?

When you purchased your home, your deed specified that your home was located within an association and subject to the governing documents of the association. Upon purchase, you automatically became a member of the association. As a homeowner, you have the obligation to pay your monthly and or special assessments on time and abide by the governing documents, which include the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions, bylaws, rules and regulations, as well as architectural or design guidelines.

You have the right to place your name in consideration to become a board of director. Not all associations have a committee system. Some associations have structured committee systems, with key committees that assist their boards in the management of their associations — from the covenants (enforcement of regulations), the architectural (enforcement of design guidelines), the finance (internal audits, money management and budget) and property and grounds (the maintenance and enhancement of the common elements).

What is not stated in any governing documents is that participation is required. Participation in becoming a committee member; participation in becoming a board of director; participation in attending the monthly board meetings and the annual/budget ratification homeowner meetings; and participation in voting, whether it be for directors of approving or rejecting a proposed change in your governing documents.

For many homeowners, they choose not to be involved. Some associations have town hall meetings, which allow the homeowners to have a period of time to express their concerns and recommendations outside of the board meetings, which are specifically structured to allow the boards to transact their business agenda. Boards can take into consideration the comments and recommendations from these town hall meetings but legally the boards are not obligated to act upon them.

Technically, the form of government is that of a “republic” similar to our local and state governments. Homeowners vote for directors who then manage the association. It is not a true form of democracy that you may still find in some small town in Vermont or Maine, where every citizen has the right to vote on every issue. If homeowners do not approve of the decisions being made by the board or by individual board members, they have the right to elect other directors or recall that board or those individual board members. Too often, we hear complaints from individual association members but, unfortunately, many of these homeowners do not want to “step-up to the plate” and take any action.

Next Sunday, I will talk about homeowners’ obligation to follow their governing documents in a HOA.

Barbara Holland is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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