Anthony Edwards, community manager, answers the question of what would be helpful for board members to better know and understand.
[00:00:25.530] – Matthew Holbrook
Welcome to The Uncommon Area. I’m Matthew Holbrook, and in this episode, we are going to be looking at the question of, “What should a board member know about serving on an HOA board of directors, but maybe they don’t know?” Here to talk about that with us today is Anthony Edwards, one of Action‘s managers.
[00:00:45.260] – Matthew Holbrook
Yeah, we just wanted a manager’s perspective on what do you think that board members who serve for an HOA? What should they know, but maybe often we notice that they don’t know or don’t understand really well?
[00:00:58.120] – Anthony Edwards
I would say things that the board members should know, specifically jumping into the new role is their realization and their expectation of their authority. Unfortunately, a lot of board members do have that expectation that they will jump in and take the side of the neighborhood cop, and it doesn’t necessarily work that way in the liability side. That’s where that comes in for the manager to really coach them on how to handle certain situations and allow management to do their job.
[00:01:32.470] – Matthew Holbrook
Let’s unpack that just a little bit. It seems to me that there’s a couple of angles or perspectives on just how a board member has authority, as you say. One might just be understanding that they are a part of an overall entity of the board of directors. Maybe you can speak to that a little bit about how a board member fits in what they have authority to do on their own versus their authority as an overall unit.
[00:02:01.860] – Anthony Edwards
I think with, at least my boards, I do always stress the fact of never engaging a homeowner in regards to any violations or any behavioral aspects that does open up, not only the safety aspect of a liability side, but also just in regards to litigation side. But really just coaching them back through that once they’re out of that board meeting, their obligations as a board member are really going back to just the financial, the fiduciary, and everything else really should be mitigated back to the property manager.
[00:02:39.760] – Matthew Holbrook
I think there’s something counterintuitive for board members oftentimes on this. They get on the board, they want to be helpful, they want to communicate with the residents, they want to be proactive, and all of that is good. The challenge is, obviously, they are one board member and there are five board members generally, sometimes seven or three, but generally, it’s five. As one member of that five, you’re taking a big risk when you are representing something for the association as a single board member as opposed to speaking as a whole entity. That’s where it comes back to it’s not that the HOA manager has that authority-
[00:03:19.180] – Anthony Edwards
[00:03:19.460] – Matthew Holbrook
-the manager represents the whole board’s voice.
[00:03:21.970] – Anthony Edwards
Correct, and trying to maintain that there’s regulations within the community. But a lot of board members, they do, they take that on, and they want to obviously make sure that their community is the way that they see it. That is why they were elected to be there. But it is also very important for the manager to really coach them in how to communicate with other residents, as well as communicating with other board members because that can also have its own internal conflicts.
[00:03:49.100] – Matthew Holbrook
There’s this one voice idea that you want to make sure the board always speaks with one voice. That can be most effectively done and that’s filtered through the manager, or maybe sometimes through the board presiden.
[00:04:01.390] – Anthony Edwards
Of course, and having that neutrality of the whole board is very important.
[00:04:06.020] – Matthew Holbrook
On the other side of it is, there is this whole legal side or legal aspect that you alluded to. But there’s civil code; and there are corporations codes; and there are specific rules, and regulations, and architectural guidelines; and there’s a whole list of different aspects that govern an HOA. Oftentimes, new board members may not understand where they might be stepping into an area where they might cause trouble or challenges for the association and not even realize it.
[00:04:39.250] – Anthony Edwards
I think really it goes back to a board member maybe wanting to see certain changes, and not necessarily understanding, as you said before, that it does take that full vote, that the quorum of the board, to actually make a change of certain policies. Perhaps a board member doesn’t like one particular policy of the parking rules, and they say, “Well” to one homeowner, “don’t mind that, I’ll talk to the board,” and not necessarily understanding that it does need that full approval from the board, at least the quorum of that board, to make that policy change, and the homeowner is having that unrealistic expectation of that change already being in effect.
[00:05:21.560] – Matthew Holbrook
Homeowner may act on something thinking, “Hey, this board member told me that I can do this, and it’s from a board member, so I can rely on that.” The board member may be perfectly well-intentioned, but setting just a false expectation for the homeowner. It needs to go back and be discussed with the rest of the board. There may be other considerations that that board member may not be aware of.
[00:05:43.910] – Anthony Edwards
Absolutely, and really just thinking about the existing policy, making sure that they’re following it as much as any homeowner would.
[00:05:52.660] – Matthew Holbrook
That’s where that collaboration and partnership with the management really becomes important, where the manager, again, can speak representing the board, representing that one voice, and also having the consideration of maybe what are some of the legal factors that apply in the situation. Not that we’re practicing law, but that we’re going to bring in the standards that we understand.
[00:06:14.440] – Anthony Edwards
At least directing them in the right area to speak to people with the confidence they know what they’re talking about. But also, I would say, as long as they read their rules and regulations and have that confidence of talking on certain regulations.
[00:06:31.390] – Matthew Holbrook
Well, that’s great. I really appreciate your feedback on that, and I hope that that’s helpful. We always want to be able to encourage, and facilitate, and enable board members to be as effective as possible. But in doing that, we want board members to be aware of maybe where some of the pitfalls might be. I hope that that is helpful in giving consideration as to how you might be an effective board member.
[00:06:57.270] – Matthew Holbrook
Well, we hope that you continue to watch The Uncommon Area and look for additional episodes that might also be helpful.