What Does An Association Board President Do and How To Smoothly Transition To A Newly Elected President?
Association Board President’s Role
Condominiums and HOA’s are administered by the Association’s Board of Directors. A Board typically consists of an odd number of Directors to minimize the chances of a vote ending in a tie. There are usually four officers: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.
The primary mission of the Board is to maintain or increase the property values of the residences in the Association. Further, the Board is responsible for carrying out the stated mission of the Association by properly applying the Governing Documents of the neighborhood.
Every Association requires that an annual meeting be scheduled at which there is a vote by the membership to elect the members of the Board. The membership elects the Board Members and then the elected Board Members elect the Officers. (The length of each term is determined by the Governing Documents.)
The President of the Board’s role is to handle a variety of administrative and legal duties. The Board President’s responsibilities typically include: establishing and preparing meeting agendas, chairing Board meetings and authorizing documents on the Association’s behalf.
The President also typically serves as the main point of contact with the Property Manager. The President of the Association, in conjunction with the rest of the Board, are charged with carrying out the management of the community as outlined in the governing documents. This is best accomplished by adhering to “best practices” and making decisions that are in the best long-term interest of the Association.
What should newly elected Presidents do when they are elected by their HOA/Condo Association Board?
First, it is essential that ALL new Board members attend the State required Board Certification Class. The classes are frequently offered at no charge by local law firms that specialize in Association law. New Presidents should have a good idea of how to properly run a Board meeting. This can be easily achieved by attending Board meetings before the election. This method is also helpful in providing background knowledge as to what topics to address and what is on the current docket of work to be addressed.
In the alternate, if you are not already familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order, which is the method by which most Associations strive to conduct their meetings, a google search will provide a lot of resources to choose from. Henry M. Robert’s classic guide to smooth, orderly, and fairly conducted meetings, is considered the gold standard of meeting procedure for professional parliamentarians and novice club presidents and members alike.
To get a full scope of the role and current status of the community, the newly elected President should meet with the community’s property manager. This can offer a macro view of the Association as it stands, insight into recent determinations and context for future decision making. It is also a good way to establish a trusted channel of communication and support between the Board President and property manager.
The property manager also serves as a facilitator for various property, resident and Association concerns pertaining to administrative, financial, and physical property management needs. The manager can also help to support the newly elected Board and President transition by providing important paperwork such as a complete set of the governing documents (with all amendments), a copy of the annual budget and information about how the annual budget was formulated, minutes of recent meetings, etc. Ask for current status reports and a set of up to date financial statements. This will help to simplify the transition process and learning curve.
It’s also a good idea to reach out to the Association’s attorney and introduce yourself. Be certain to discuss how, for what and when the attorney charges the Association to avoid any unexpected legal fees.
Quick Tips for Association President Transitions:
Understand the Commitment:
Know what you’re getting into before you’re elected. Be sure it’s for you before you even submit your candidacy. Attend Board meetings and determine if you have the skills and demeanor to serve effectively. These typically include: speaking in public (sometimes before large groups), a sizable time commitment, conflict resolution, building consensus and leadership talents.
Study the Governing Documents:
If you truly understand the commitment of being an Association President, then you’ve probably read the governing documents already, but we’ll mention it here. Read and make sure you understand the community’s governing documents as well as the Florida Statutes that govern your Association (FS 718 for Condominiums and FS 720 for HOA’s). Familiarize yourself with the community in detail. Take a leisurely stroll or drive up and down every street and around the entire common grounds of the property. Learn the rules and regulations, examine past issues and develop a list of future concerns for discussion. The President of the Board is considered the go-to person for all things community related. Be informed.
Allow The Community to Know You:
New Presidents should arrange for a proper, formalized introduction to their community. It is a good idea to reach out via email or US mail to let residents know you are the new President. Establish a friendly, approachable, professional stance from the beginning. Give homeowners and residents the chance to get to know about you, your approach and vision for the Association. You may wish to establish a new email address just for Association related business and share your contact information with the residents. You may also consider holding a short question and answer session immediately following your election or at the first Board meeting at which you preside. This typically proves useful and may result in less “pushback” when the inevitable time for an unpopular decision presents itself.
Preside with Character:
Residents want to see and feel that their concerns, financial and otherwise, are being considered and upheld. Commit to the best interest of the community. Avoid putting yourself in a position in which there may be a perception of a conflict of interest. Try not to make decisions that will serve only a small group of vocal residents. Keep the bylaws of the Association in mind and just generally attempt to do the right thing.
Welcome Aboard New Board Presidents!
Although this role can frequently be challenging, as the new Board President you have the opportunity to make a significant difference. From day to day administrative work, owner communication, establishing new rules and developing a long-term plan for the Association you’ll be encouraging your neighborhood towards improvement.