HOA bylaws are an integral part of an HOA’s day-to-day operations. These rules and regulations are intended to create order within the HOA structure, making it clear to both board members and community members alike the powers and parameters of the HOA.
Before adopting a set of bylaws for your HOA, the first step is to understand what goes into defining these laws and then — equally important — have a predefined vision of how to implement them successfully.
What Matters Should HOA Bylaws Cover?
Let’s start with the basics. What are bylaws for an HOA?
Much like the rules and regulations that guide how a business is run, bylaws for HOA exist to regulate the inner workings of the HOA. Their goal is to establish order and consistency in oversight of the neighborhood and holding board members accountable.
The Frequency of HOA Meetings
HOA board meetings are critical to the healthy operations of an HOA. Aside from being a time when important decisions are made, these meetings give homeowners a forum to voice their questions and concerns and facilitate meaningful discussions with leaders.
Generally speaking, HOA board members meet on a monthly or quarterly basis. Having this meeting frequency spelled out in the HOA bylaws ensures routine communications between board members and homeowners while making board members aware of what’s required of them regarding meeting attendance.
How Meetings Are Conducted
Alongside defining the appropriate number of meetings to hold, HOA bylaws should define guidelines for how these meetings are run.
For instance, you’ll want to provide clear guidance around meeting attendance. There should be a defined minimum number of board members that must be present to have a quorum and clear parameters around whether homeowners can attend and if (and how) they can participate to keep meetings running efficiently.
From an efficiency standpoint, it’s also beneficial to set strict guidelines for meeting agendas. By defining the ideal agenda — a list that typically includes elements like a call to order, roll call, last meeting’s minutes approval, and committee reports, to name a few examples — HOA board members can make sure important needs are addressed without meetings dragging on long past their intended timeframe.
HOA Board Member Responsibilities
For an HOA to function properly, board members need to understand what’s expected of them in their respective roles. HOA bylaws can help define these expectations.
For instance, once elected, the secretary should know their responsibilities in terms of managing relevant association records, so they’re available at homeowners’ requests. Meanwhile, an elected treasurer should know when they need to schedule an audit of the HOA’s books and what reports need to be provided to the rest of the board.
Mapping out board member responsibilities in the context of the HOA bylaws creates fewer frustrations and surprises for board members and naturally lends itself to better results for the community.
Membership Voting Rights
Voting can occur at an HOA board meeting for several reasons, whether it relates to electing a new board member or approving increased HOA fees to account for new initiatives. Whatever the case may be, HOA bylaws should include a definitive plan around the voting process for community members.
The bylaws should spell out how homeowners should be notified of the vote, how many people need to be on hand for the vote, and what recording procedures need to be in place to make sure the vote is seen as legitimate and compliant. The rules should also call out the qualifications for voting, such as whether it’s one vote per unit or one vote per person in a household.
How to Successfully Enforce Your Constructed HOA Bylaws
HOA bylaws are only as effective as their ability to be enforced. With this in mind, an HOA board must have clearly defined procedures in place to ensure they execute on the governing documents they’ve established.
The first step is to make sure that HOA board members are educated on the bylaws themselves. As part of the training process, elected board members should thoroughly review the bylaws that govern the HOA — including limitations under this governance — to mitigate future liabilities and maintain harmony within the community.
Alongside the importance of board member education is consistency. HOA bylaws must be enforced uniformly within a community, as inconsistencies can lead to frustrations among its members and even legal action against the HOA if they breach their fiduciary duties. Adhering to the guidelines in the HOA bylaws across all instances ensures the board does not over enforce or under enforce established rules and regulations, which helps keep HOAs out of hot water.
Support Your HOA Management Efforts with TOPS HOA Software
As an HOA board member, you understand the value of establishing and enforcing rules and regulations to oversee HOA operations. But like any business, a lack of technology can inevitably make this management task more difficult and leave room for compliance issues.
TOPS [ONE] is an HOA accounting software that can help alleviate these headaches. With a full portfolio of documents (HOA bylaws included) conveniently available to board members and homeowners from any device, board members can easily access the information they need to maintain compliant operations while homeowners can feel more informed and engaged in their community. Watch a demo to see our software in action first-hand.
Download your FREE Action Items Worksheet!
Distribute this worksheet to a board prior to each meeting to keep everyone on target, or even keep a running log of similar nature online where everyone can access.
Benefits of having this Action Item Worksheet:
- One convenient location for all action items (easily add additional communities to this worksheet)
- Helps the board to be reminded of all of the work that has been done in recent times
- Comes in handy during budget season to help the Board better predict expenses
- Helps to prevent important tasks from falling through the cracks
- A good way to maintain a ‘To Do’ list
This is the resource you’ve been waiting for.