Creating rules and bylaws

Navigating, creating, and enforcing sensible rules for your community can seem complex. But it doesn’t have to. Download our rules and bylaws guide, now!

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HOA committee“Success by committee” is a common expression, but do you know how commissions help homeowners association (HOA) boards achieve success? HOA commissions are integral in assisting boards with everything from operations to finance, and they can help boards by taking on tasks and freeing up members’ time. Commissions make significant improvements, helping the community thrive. Let’s explore the ins and outs of HOA commissions, how they are formed, what type of community business they handle and examples of HOA commissions. 
While some board members are elected to their roles with the professional knowledge and/or previous association board experience they need to perform successfully, others have little or no knowledge or training in HOA governance. But no matter their prior experience, they must juggle their HOA board responsibilities with obligations to their families, jobs, hobbies, civic involvement and other personal interests and responsibilities.  
HOAs hire property management companies to handle all of their community’s day-to-day operations and management responsibilities, under their direction. When communities are professionally managed, board members still play a role in dealing with ongoing community issues that need to be addressed, as well as one-off issues that arise throughout the year.  That’s where advisory commissions come in – helping board members by providing a good perspective and understanding of the topic at hand.  
In addition to providing valuable assistance to the association board, commissions also involve more shareholders with personal experience in the governance process, resulting in a stronger, more involved community. As a bonus, they provide commission members with valuable HOA governance, making them a hands-on training ground for new community leaders. Not to mention, more residents are able to get involved in their community and make a positive difference that all residents can benefit from. 
Effective commissions can be your community’s lifeline, so if you need a helping hand, consult with a seasoned board member or a good property management company for guidance. We’ve also put together some basic facts and guidelines on commissions to help. Ready to position your board for success by committee? Read on… 

What are HOA Commissions, and What Do They Do? 

HOA commissions assist board members by addressing specific community issues and tasks while serving in an advisory role for the benefit of the community. They gather information, assess problems, and recommend solutions to the board. What types of commissions work with community boards?  

Depending on the community, commissions may be formed that deal with: 

  • Communications

  • Repair and maintenance

  • Finance

  • Buildings and grounds

  • Landscaping

  • Swimming pools

  • Violations

  • Covenants enforcement

  • Litigation

  • Architectural review

  • Social programming 

What are the Different Types of HOA Commissions? 

Generally, HOAs create two types of commissions; standing and ad hoc. Standing commissions are permanent commissions that meet regularly to handle ongoing tasks such as finance or landscaping. Ad hoc commissions are short-term, temporary commissions formed to handle specific tasks, like developing a new operating plan, amending the HOA’s bylaws, or solving issues impacting the community and residents. 

How is an HOA Commission Formed?  

Most HOA’s bylaws allow for commissions to be formed. The bylaws may also authorize the board to decide on the qualifications for members, member selection, removal process and commission size. 

What is the Ideal Commission Size? 

Commissions can range from one individual to whatever number of members the association board deems acceptable. But size does matter. Commissions can become hard to manage if there are too many participants involved. Typically, HOA commissions range from one to five members and average somewhere in the middle, depending on the task. 

What is the Proper Commission Structure?  

How should your association board organize its commissions? There is no set standard, but commissions are most effective when they fit the needs of the HOA and community. It’s also important they are aligned to board members’ strategic priorities. But no matter how they’re set up, every commission needs a mission, a strong leader, a sound plan and a clear statement of goals and responsibilities.  

HOA committee member

The Importance of Creating a Commission Charter 

Once your board forms a commission, it should create a commissions charter – a written document that defines its duties and responsibilities – and those of its members. The charter also establishes the relationship between the board and the commission. It spells out the commissions’ limitations – such as what expenses it can accrue and which actions it can take.  But it’s a good idea for the board to not be overly restrictive – you don’t want to thwart your commission from achieving its goals.  But it’s worth repeating that commissions are primarily in place to provide board members with additional perspective. 

HOAs Benefit from Well Organized Commissions 

There are numerous benefits to HOAs that have well organized commissions, but there are three main benefits: 

Fresh Perspectives

Most association boards don’t have term limits, which means a board can consist of the same members for any length of time. Having commissions made up of other community members brings a fresh perspective to the board and new ideas the board may not have thought of before. 

Community Involvement

Many community members want to be involved and have a positive impact in the place they live but most don’t have the time to dedicate to being a board member. Commissions are a great way for more residents to get involved with less of a time commitment. 

Acts as a Check on the Association Board

Checks and balances are important in any government or organization and that includes HOAs. The commissions act as a check on the board by reviewing facts, making recommendations and assessing solutions separately from the board. 

HOA committee meeting

Many tasks and responsibilities go into effective association management, but board members don’t have to go it alone. When commission members work in tandem with board members to shoulder some of the duties, they help strengthen the HOA and the community, which is a win-win for everyone.

For more information about commissions– and how they can help board members perform more effectively – contact FirstService Residential.

Wednesday July 13, 2022