Homeowners associations, particularly larger ones, utilize all sorts of committees to help complete day-to-day tasks. Learn how you can set up your own HOA committees below.
What Are HOA Committees?
An HOA committee is a group of community members tasked with helping the HOA board with a specific job. Similar to the HOA board, HOA committee positions are filled on a volunteer basis and, therefore, do not receive compensation.
HOA committees are great because they accomplish two things at once. First, committees assist the association board by fulfilling various duties. They essentially make board members’ lives easier by sharing the burden of community governance, though they do not share the same powers.
Second, committees encourage participation from owners. HOA committees allow residents to contribute and give back to the community they live in. They are perfect for owners who want to get involved but cannot fully commit to serving on the HOA board.
Similarly, a committee is a great way to introduce potential leaders to the world of HOA management. It can act as a stepping stone for owners who want to have a more significant influence on the community but are too apprehensive about a position on the board.
There are three general types of committees — executive committees, standing committees, and special or ad hoc committees.
An executive committee is one that is exclusively comprised of the members of the board. A standing committee is one that has ongoing duties and, therefore, exists for an indefinite period of time. Finally, a special or ad hoc committee is one that is created specifically for a singular purpose. By nature, special committees only exist for a finite period of time, typically dissolving after they have achieved their goal.
How to Assemble HOA Committees
It is one thing to say you want to form committees but another thing entirely to actually put it into action. Here are the steps you should take to assemble your own HOA committees:
1. Create Your Committee Charter
A committee charter is basically the framework of the committee. It explains the committee’s relationship with the board and outlines all pertinent details. To create your HOA committee charter template, make sure it addresses the following:
- Purpose. The purpose of the committee, at its core, answers the question of why. Why was this committee created? What is its function? What are its goals?
- Product. This is what the committee is expected to produce. For instance, an Architectural Review Committee might come up with recommendations to the board on matters related to architectural changes.
- Duration. This refers to how long the committee will remain in effect. Is it a standing committee or an ad hoc committee?
- Budget. Determine how much money is allocated to committee activities and how they can request those funds. Some committees don’t have budgets, but your board must make that clear to the committee members.
- Reporting. This pertains to communications with the board. It establishes how the committee should report to the board, what format it should come in, and which channels they can use to submit it.
Your HOA committee guidelines should clearly indicate the duties of the committee and what actions they can take. Setting expectations and limiting the powers of the committee from the beginning is a good way to avoid misunderstandings.
2. Enlist Committee Members
Once you have a committee charter drawn up, it is time to recruit committee members. When choosing or appointing committees and their members, make sure to take the following into consideration:
- Skills. Ideally, you would have someone well-versed in the subject matter to serve on the committee. For instance, a budget committee can benefit from a member who is an accountant or has financial knowledge.
- Desire. Committee members must have good intentions and a willingness to learn as well as a passion to serve. Like the board, they should put the community’s interest above all else.
- Temperament. Working on a committee means working with people, so friendly and level-headed members are preferred. A person may boast an impressive resume, but if they are aggressive or can’t work on a team, then everyone will have a hard time.
3. Commit to an Organizational Structure
The next step is to decide on an organizational structure for the committee. First, you will need committee chairs. The committee chair basically acts as the leader of the team. They set the tone for everyone and should, therefore, have great leadership and communication skills.
Many associations appoint a board member as the chair, though it can also be a member of the community. If you have HOA board members on committees, they usually act as the liaison between the committee and the board. If not, someone else can assume that role.
Committees also typically need a secretary to take meeting minutes and be in charge of documents. A regular committee member can take on this position.
4. Decide on Committee Meetings
Committees need to hold meetings to discuss issues and make decisions. But, should these meetings be open to all residents or be held with closed doors?
It is important to check your state laws and governing documents for guidance when it comes to holding committee meetings. California has an Open Meeting Act that regulates how boards should hold their meetings, but the act does not really apply to committee meetings.
A good rule of thumb, though, is to hold open meetings for committees that make non-confidential decisions. For instance, an Architectural Review Committee typically approves or rejects architectural change requests (or makes recommendations to the board). Because of the gravity of the decisions, it is best to hold open meetings to remain transparent. Though, you should remember to follow notice requirements and take minutes.
Conversely, a committee that deals with confidential issues should generally hold closed meetings. Examples of such committees include Disciplinary Committees and Advisory Committees as well as Finance Committees that carry out collection efforts against delinquent homeowners.
5. Monitor Progress
The final step — though it is generally a never-ending process — is to monitor the progress of the committees. Ad hoc committees will eventually need to disband once they have fulfilled their goals. On the other hand, standing committees continue to exist and may require adjustments when something is not working quite right.
What HOA Committees Should You Set Up?
There are many committees that an HOA can establish. Which ones your particular HOA should create will depend on your unique needs. Some committees also take on several names, though they have the same purpose.
In general, though, these are the different HOA committees you can use:
- Architectural Review Committee (also known as Architectural Control Committee)
- Landscaping Committee (sometimes lumped together with the ARC or ACC)
- Finance or Budget Committee
- Communications Committee
- Election Committee
- Enforcement Committee
- Social Events Committee
- Safety Committee
- Social Media Committee
- Disciplinary Committee
- Advisory Committee
Lightening the Burden with HOA Committees
Serving on the HOA board is tough, and often thankless, work. You must juggle a number of responsibilities that can sometimes be too much to handle. By assembling your own HOA committees, though, your board can have a helping hand.
Of course, another way to lighten your load as an HOA board is to hire an HOA management company. Elite Management Services offers a variety of management solutions for associations of all shapes and sizes. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online to learn more about our services.
- How To Manage The Most Challenging Homeowners’ Issues At Your HOA
- HOA Legal Responsibilities Every Homeowner Should Know
- 7 Common HOA Misconceptions Explained