Every homeowners association can benefit from the creation of HOA committees, but the process of assembling one requires much more than sheer willpower. Before you can form a committee, you must first understand the types as well as their individual roles.
The Different Types of HOA Committees
HOA committees can fall under one of three categories:
- Executive Committees. These committees consist solely of members of the HOA board.
- Standing Committees. These committees have continuous tasks and exist indefinitely.
- Ad Hoc or Special Committees. These committees are formed to address specific issues and exist only until those tasks are completed.
In general, HOAs must form standing committees first, especially those required by the association’s governing documents. These typically include an architectural committee, a landscaping committee, and a budgeting committee, explained below. After organizing these committees, an HOA can move on to create other committees, including special ones.
1. HOA Architectural Committee
An architectural committee, also known as an architectural review or architectural control committee, is responsible for enforcing the community’s architectural standards. This committee reviews proposals for modifications, approving or denying them according to the HOA architectural committee guidelines outlined in the CC&Rs.
An architectural committee is one of the most important committees in an HOA. Without one, the community risks losing its uniform aesthetic and diminishing curb appeal. This, in turn, can lead to lower property values.
2. HOA Landscaping Committee
Landscaping is essential to any homeowners association, as it helps beautify the neighborhood and keep property values up.
Smaller communities can do without landscaping committees since there usually aren’t many common amenities. However, larger associations will benefit greatly from this type of HOA committee.
A landscaping committee is responsible for researching landscaping companies, securing bids, and interviewing potential candidates. This committee also coordinates with the chosen company, oversees all landscaping work, and provides the HOA board with progress updates. While members with landscaping knowledge are a plus, it is not a requirement.
3. HOA Budget Committee
Budget committees play a critical role in the operations of a homeowners association. Members of this committee help the board plan the annual budget. There can also be sub-committees responsible for reserve studies and investments. Since the work of a budget committee generally has to do with finance, members should have some level of familiarity with the subject matter.
4. HOA Social Committee/HOA Events Committee
It is important to build a sense of community in a homeowners association. One way to do that is to organize events and social gatherings that can help promote camaraderie. Such events are best left in the hands of an HOA social committee. Members of this committee can conduct polls to find out which events residents are interested in and when a majority of them are available. This committee is also responsible for making event announcements both online and offline.
5. HOA Welcome Committee
A welcome committee can make new residents feel more at home and make the transition process much easier. Members of this committee will drop by and greet new homeowners. They can also help familiarize the new homeowners with the community’s rules and processes. Some associations delegate the welcoming duties to the HOA social committee, while others form a separate committee specifically for the task.
6. HOA Newsletter Committee
If your association sends out regular newsletters to residents, it will significantly help to organize a newsletter committee for the job. Responsibilities of this committee include formatting the newsletter, writing content, and distributing copies to all homeowners. Of course, it is still best to have the HOA board review the newsletter before it goes out. That way, you can avoid running the risk of liability.
7. HOA Social Media Committee
More and more HOAs are moving to the digital format when it comes to homeowner communication — and for good reason. The power of social media is palpable, and HOAs would be wise to take advantage of it.
To mitigate the potential for liability, though, it is imperative to form a social media committee. This committee can help moderate online forums and social media pages, making sure all members follow certain ground rules. Additionally, this committee can also be responsible for posting announcements and updates so that all members stay informed.
8. HOA Safety Committee
Safety is paramount in every community. As such, consider forming an HOA safety committee to liaise with local law enforcement. This committee can also oversee the creation and operations of a neighborhood watch program. Of course, there is only so much a safety committee can do to protect the community. Therefore, it is important to clearly define the expectations for this committee and communicate that to homeowners.
The Benefits of HOA Committees
Although each committee serves a specific function, one overarching purpose of all HOA committees is to lighten the load of board members. The HOA board has many roles and responsibilities to fulfill. With other priorities, board members can quickly feel overwhelmed and start to neglect certain duties. By forming HOA committees, the HOA board can share the burden and delegate certain tasks. A dedicated committee can also help speed up the completion of work.
Apart from this, HOA committees encourage participation from the members of the association. It is hard to promote engagement in a community, but committees present the perfect opportunity. They allow members to contribute to the association, thereby making them feel helpful and needed. This directly affects homeowner satisfaction in the community.
How to Create HOA Committees
Every HOA board must learn how to form committees the right way. Some associations have the procedure outlined in their governing documents. Generally, though, the process of creating HOA committees can be summed up in three steps:
1. Construct Committee Charter
The first thing the HOA board must do is to create a committee charter. Simply put, a committee charter indicates the framework of a committee and defines their relationship with the HOA board. Committee charters must include the purpose, product, timeframe, budget, and reporting.
Start with the purpose of the committee. Determining the function of the committee from the get-go will set the proper expectations for it. Then comes the product — what the committee must produce. This could come in the form of a detailed recommendation to the board or a specific action. Make sure to state in clear terms what you expect the committee to do as well as the boundaries of their actions. These HOA committee guidelines will inform what members can and can’t do.
After that, you must set a timeframe. Decide whether the committee is a standing committee or an ad hoc committee. If it is the latter, when will the committee disband? A committee will also typically need a budget to work with. Indicate exactly how much of the HOA’s funds are available to the committee and what procedure they must follow to acquire these funds. If you don’t intend to provide funding, let the committee know.
Finally, your committee charter must include reporting. How should the committee report to the board? Should it be in writing? Is there a specific format? Should the committee send it through email or submit it in person? It is equally important to establish how often the committee must make these reports.
2. Recruit the Right Members
The obvious next step in the committee creation process is to assemble a team of capable individuals. Different homeowners have different skills and intentions as well as varying degrees of temperament.
This can make the member selection challenging as you must know how to weigh those factors out.
When picking committee members, keep the committee’s purpose and product in mind. For instance, a budget committee should favor members with financial expertise or budgeting skills. CPAs are even preferred.
Similarly, a welcome committee should have friendly and hospitable members to make new homeowners feel more at ease. People skills matter here.
However, that isn’t to say that you should value skills over personality. Members that tend to be antagonistic or overly aggressive, preventing the committee from accomplishing its goals, have no place in an HOA committee. Pick skilled individuals willing to work with others.
To ensure committees work as intended, your HOA board may want to designate a board liaison who attends committee meetings every so often. This liaison can help keep the committee on the right path and communicate progress with the board. While help is welcome, the board liaison must not assume control over the committee.
3. Determine the Organizational Structure
After the selection process, the final step is to set an organizational structure. This will help the committee function without a hitch. Appoint a committee chair and a secretary, remembering to keep skills and personality in mind.
Committee chairs shoulder a load of responsibilities and act as the committee head. As such, it is imperative to pick one with good leadership and people skills. Chairpersons set agendas, lead meetings, and report to the board. Secretaries take meeting minutes, which they must publish within a set timeframe. These minutes show the progress of the committee.
Committee Meetings: Open or Closed?
When holding committee meetings, the question of whether to keep it closed-doors or open to all members naturally comes to mind. The answer, though, will depend on state laws and your association’s governing documents. For instance, in California, the Open Meeting Act governs how board meetings must be held, but there are no provisions pertaining to committee meetings.
Generally, though, committees that make decisions, such as architectural committees, should hold open meetings to keep the process transparent. This includes providing notice of the meeting and inviting members to observe.
On the other hand, there are some committees that should remain closed. Disciplinary committees and advisory committees are examples of this. Since these committees work with sensitive information, they are better off held in private sessions. Though, recommendations given to the board by advisory committees should be reviewed at an open board meeting.
Ensuring the Success of Committees
HOA committees fulfill essential roles within the community. They help the HOA board accomplish the association’s goals effectively and efficiently. Beyond that, committees promote sociability and invite participation from HOA members. But, without the proper start and the encouragement to move forward, these committees are sure to fail. After creating your committee, make sure to provide feedback and show your appreciation for their contribution. A simple thank you can work wonders.
If your HOA needs help creating and managing committees, turn to Cedar Management Group for help. Reach out to us today by calling (877) 252-3327 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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