Managers in a meetingBecoming a board member is a great way to engage with your neighbors and create positive changes in your community. But sometimes, new volunteers have little to no experience and must learn the community's rules, the board’s responsibilities and the demands of their roles as they go. And while familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of the community might seem daunting, understanding board members’ responsibilities can help outline precisely what a board member can expect and what obligations their new role demands. Serving on the board means being elected to a position of authority within the community, so understanding the scope and limitations of that authority should be clearly defined. An informed board member is better able to serve their community, maintain the integrity of the property and avoid possible overreach.

Board Member Roles

There are four roles within your board of directors, and each bears a different responsibility to the community.

A board member president needs to have in-depth knowledge about the community’s bylaws, policies and operations.  The president oversees the board’s decision-making process and needs to defer to the community’s plan and vision, always making decisions based on what is best for the community. The president also presides over all meetings, is the board’s spokesperson when addressing the community and establishes committees and committee chairs. This role also coordinates with the property management company and manager and helps oversee the board's day-to-day administration. A good president is organized, an excellent communicator and public speaker, and can put aside their personal preferences – avoiding conflict of interest -  to address issues based on what is outlined in the community’s governing documents.

Vice President
While the president’s role bears a lot of responsibility, the board’s vice president must be ready to stand in for the president when they cannot be present. The vice president role requires the same depth of knowledge about the community’s bylaws and policies that the president role demands. The vice president should always have an understanding of all issues the board is facing. The vice president also serves as the chair of important committees that oversee maintenance and improvement and other big projects within the community. A good candidate for vice president has excellent decision-making skills, is an excellent public speaker and is a natural leader.

Handling all communication, documentation and record-keeping for the board, the secretary role is essential to a high-performing board. As the document archivist for the board, the secretary is responsible for compliance with legal requirements, meeting deadlines, and recording all minutes. A good secretary is organized, can multitask and knows how to develop agendas, keeping the board on-task during meetings. The best secretaries have an excellent eye for detail, are organized and efficient, and are good communicators.

The board’s treasurer oversees the community’s finances, including the collection and allocation of funds, budget, billing and operational expenditures. The treasurer needs to maintain a detailed account of funds and all transactions sanctioned by the board. The treasurer keeps the board abreast of any financial issues, including the community’s reserve funds, if there might be expensive repairs in the future. Treasurers benefit from being organized, being good accountants and being detail orientated.

Board Member Responsibilities

Board members have different duties that fall under two main categories: Responsibilities to the community and legal responsibilities. These responsibilities outline how to govern effectively and safeguard the community’s success.  

Legal Responsibilities
Some of the legal duties that a board member will encounter when performing the responsibilities associated with their role are:

Duty of Confidentiality – Because board members are privy to all confidential materials related to finances, fines, and property values, all board decisions and issues related to the business of governing the community must remain confidential during and after their term of service.

Fiduciary Duty – Board members must act in the association's best interest, with the highest degree of honesty and loyalty. Members should perform within the scope of their authority and cannot use their position or exercise their power on matters outside their duties and responsibilities.

Duty of Care/Business Judgement Rule – Board members must perform duties in good faith with such care as an ordinary, prudent person would in a similar situation. Board members are legally obliged to make informed decisions based on research and utilize all the available information before voting on a matter.

Duty of Loyalty – Board members cannot use their position to take unfair advantage of the association. Members must act in good faith and for the entire community's benefit, and their decisions cannot be based on personal interests. They also cannot use their position on the board for private gains.

Responsibilities to the Community

Board members are responsible for maintaining the community and property values and must perform specific duties to ensure the community thrives. Some of the responsibilities to the community are:

Maintenance of Common Areas – Board members must make sure that all common areas are maintained and functioning. Common areas can include but are not limited to pools, clubhouses, gyms and tennis courts.  The board is also responsible for structural components like fixtures (interior/exterior), walls and rooves.

Policy Compliance/ Governing Documents – Board members should be familiar with the community’s governing documents. The board should make sure that the community follows all federal, state and local laws.  Board members need to make sure that the association is continuously operating within compliance with the law.

Enforcing Rules/Regulations – Board members must ensure that each community member abides by the community’s rules and regulations. The board must defer to the community’s governing documents when dealing with violations and exemptions.

Community Finances – Board members are responsible for managing the community’s finances by preparing the annual budget, reviewing financial reports, managing the community’s reserve funds, reviewing the community’s insurance and collecting assessments. Board members are responsible for the community’s financial health and need to stay abreast of the community’s reserves to plan projects and maintenance repairs properly.

Communication & Community Engagement – Board members should familiarize themselves with the governing documents and the community’s policies to effectively engage and communicate with residents. Informed board members can answer questions, resolve conflicts and get community buy-in through effective communication and understanding of the community’s bylaws.  

Partnering with FirstService Residential

With good leadership in place, your community can succeed. FirstService Residential is North America’s property management leader, partnering with more than 8,500 communities across the U.S. and Canada, and has the resources and expertise to guide your board’s performance from good to great. FirstService Residential can help your board maximize property values and enhance residents’ lifestyles. Dedicated to making a difference, every day, we go above and beyond to deliver exceptional service. Visit today for more information on how to develop your board’s performance.

Thursday February 17, 2022