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Subject: Are HOA boards worse than other nonprofit boards
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ChrisE8
(New York)

Posts:128


09/29/2020 1:52 PM  
I am, and have been, a member of numerous nonprofit boards. I've seen some harsh words used once, but that's it: the boards have been very considerate, by-the-book and upstanding. As a board member, we've been required to read the entity's governing documents, sign conflict of interest policies and more. On some of the boards, we've called in good lawyers. I have seen consistent professionalism, honesty and respect. These boards are mostly church boards, but I've also been in government, on school alumni boards and more. I've never been on a HOA board.

So I'm surprised to see the stories of HOA boards on this forum. They sound very poorly run, by people with bad personalities who don't care about the law. And the professionals that serve the HOA boards seem just as bad.

I would assume that some of that image is due to this forum being a place where people come when they have a problem that needs to be resolved, but am I missing something or just fortunate? For those who have served on HOA boards and other nonprofit boards, are the HOA boards worse?

Thanks.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17008


09/29/2020 2:09 PM  
Chris,

HOA/COA boards are not the same thing as other non-profit boards.
They are incorporated under non-profit statutes but it's not really the same.

Typical non-profits go and recruit Directors and may pay their officers (who are typically someone other then Directors).

HOA/COAs typically have a limited pool to recruit from. They don't pay their Officers and those who do volunteer are doing two jobs (Director/Officer)instead of one.

Members of a typical non-profit don't see their company as a police force.
Many members of a typical HOA/COA do see their Association as a police force and expect action on why some jerk didn't pick up after their pet.

Typical non-profits don't have requirements that force someone to be a member or to pay dues (it's voluntary).
Most HOA/COAs, by virtue of deed restrictions (aka covenants), force you to be a member and to pay assessments.

I simply don't think you can compare the two entities or those who serve within them.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10014


09/29/2020 2:18 PM  
Chris

I have served on both. Some observations:

1. Few owners/members care what the BOD does until it is a topic of interest to them especially if it will cost them money. Then they get involved.

2. People get on a BOD as they care, to protect their a$$, or to push for a pet project/issue. Many get soon lose interested in anything else.

3. HOA type associations have "unique" Covenants/Bylaws to operate by where other type associations run more controlled by government regulations.

4. Typically HOA's are asked to rule on issues/disputes specific to one "member" (fences, house color, etc.) versus the greater good of the association. This is the major difference.

5. Politics play a major role in each type organization.

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1315


09/29/2020 2:22 PM  
We had another poster on here who insisted that HOA boards were the worst of the worst. Also from NY, oddly enough.

Certainly there are some bad ones, because (IMHO):

* People can buy homes in HOAs without having the slightest idea of what they're actually buying, and I think that describes the large majority of owners. This is the pool of candidates from which the board will be selected.

* Other nonprofits tend to select boards members for specific skills or for their commitment to the work the organization is doing. HOA board members are often strong-armed into doing something that nobody wants to do. If their name is on the deed and they can fog a mirror, good enough.

* Serving on an HOA requires a wider range of skills. Can you imagine posting a job listing that requires: knowledge of budgeting and finance, knowledge of infrastructure, building and grounds management, working knowledge of the laws governing the space in which you operate, knowledge about applicable insurance, managerial expertise, and psychology? Of course not, you'd hire a bunch of specialists, and you'd pay a pretty penny to get the lot of them. The skills required of other nonprofit boards are generally much more limited (and may be nothing more than a prominent last name to encourage donations).

* Homeowners have a sense of entitlement that the board owes them free professional services without imposing any obligation to reciprocate. This often leads to rudeness and outright abuse. In contrast, the populations served by other nonprofits tend not to show up at board members' homes at all hours making demands or screaming profanity.

Many/most board members who devote the most time and energy to the job tend to burn out fast, and no wonder.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10014


09/29/2020 2:33 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 09/29/2020 2:22 PM
We had another poster on here who insisted that HOA boards were the worst of the worst. Also from NY, oddly enough.

Certainly there are some bad ones, because (IMHO):

* People can buy homes in HOAs without having the slightest idea of what they're actually buying, and I think that describes the large majority of owners. This is the pool of candidates from which the board will be selected.

* Other nonprofits tend to select boards members for specific skills or for their commitment to the work the organization is doing. HOA board members are often strong-armed into doing something that nobody wants to do. If their name is on the deed and they can fog a mirror, good enough.

* Serving on an HOA requires a wider range of skills. Can you imagine posting a job listing that requires: knowledge of budgeting and finance, knowledge of infrastructure, building and grounds management, working knowledge of the laws governing the space in which you operate, knowledge about applicable insurance, managerial expertise, and psychology? Of course not, you'd hire a bunch of specialists, and you'd pay a pretty penny to get the lot of them. The skills required of other nonprofit boards are generally much more limited (and may be nothing more than a prominent last name to encourage donations).

* Homeowners have a sense of entitlement that the board owes them free professional services without imposing any obligation to reciprocate. This often leads to rudeness and outright abuse. In contrast, the populations served by other nonprofits tend not to show up at board members' homes at all hours making demands or screaming profanity.

Many/most board members who devote the most time and energy to the job tend to burn out fast, and no wonder.




Well said.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7579


09/29/2020 3:35 PM  
You've written, Chris, that the Board in your new HOA is wonderful, "professional," etc., etc. How do you know this? Are their board meetings open? Have you attended?

I'm not sure what is meant by the "professional serving HOA boards seem just as bad" Most of the professionals for our HOA have to do with maintenance, e.g., our custodial firm, pest control company, pool and gym maintenance firm, etc. Then, we have a security firm. We also have a CPA that does our annual audit, collection attorneys and a GC firm on retainer. In our case, we have family large Management company that provides us two in-house managers. How can any of these be defined as "bad?"

Say, how many are on your current board? How many units are in your building? Do you have an onsite manager? Does s/he work for your HOA directly? Or for a MC? Does s/he seem "professional?" How is that demonstrated?

I've only served on a couple of other non-profit boards quite some time ago. Their missions had nothing to do with the mission of an HOA board which, in a nutshell, is to protect, maintain & enhance our jointly owned common areas. HOA membership share a common investment and my other voluntary orgs didn't have that factor: One was a Univ. alum board and one supported an annual Shakespeare festival.

They also weren't all neighbors sharing the same physical space.

Others did a fine job of replying.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3512


09/29/2020 3:53 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 09/29/2020 2:22 PM
We had another poster on here who insisted that HOA boards were the worst of the worst. Also from NY, oddly enough.

Certainly there are some bad ones, because (IMHO):

* People can buy homes in HOAs without having the slightest idea of what they're actually buying, and I think that describes the large majority of owners. This is the pool of candidates from which the board will be selected.

* Other nonprofits tend to select boards members for specific skills or for their commitment to the work the organization is doing. HOA board members are often strong-armed into doing something that nobody wants to do. If their name is on the deed and they can fog a mirror, good enough.

* Serving on an HOA requires a wider range of skills. Can you imagine posting a job listing that requires: knowledge of budgeting and finance, knowledge of infrastructure, building and grounds management, working knowledge of the laws governing the space in which you operate, knowledge about applicable insurance, managerial expertise, and psychology? Of course not, you'd hire a bunch of specialists, and you'd pay a pretty penny to get the lot of them. The skills required of other nonprofit boards are generally much more limited (and may be nothing more than a prominent last name to encourage donations).

* Homeowners have a sense of entitlement that the board owes them free professional services without imposing any obligation to reciprocate. This often leads to rudeness and outright abuse. In contrast, the populations served by other nonprofits tend not to show up at board members' homes at all hours making demands or screaming profanity.

Many/most board members who devote the most time and energy to the job tend to burn out fast, and no wonder.




I noticed the NY connection as well, and it does make me go hmmm,but ok.

As Cathy noted, being on a HOA board has unique challenges. When the board makes a decision people don't like, it's not like screaming at someone who doesn't know you, but your neighbor next door or across the street. You may or may not have a relationship with certain board members before the decision was made - if so, you may be likely to stomp over to the person's house and continue screaming or worse.If

I've said before developers don't educate homeowners on what living in a HOA will mean or train the new board on what they should do. That's why board training is so important, but too many homeowners are in love with the position as opposed to do what's necessary to benefit the community.
ChrisE8
(New York)

Posts:128


09/29/2020 4:25 PM  
Thanks, everyone. Yes my HOA is excellent:

1. Great communications- the board is constantly calling owner meetings just to discuss various issues with the property. There is also a nice HOA website that has a lot of functionality.
2. Great staff- the property manager and HOA employees are all excellent and very professional.
3. Great maintenance- the property is in great shape.
4. Low HOA dues- the dues are very low, and much lower than comparable properties, and the budget is solid.

I have absolutely nothing to complain about and much to give praise about. I have seen the board bios and the board president at least is the one who developed the property and lives in the property. There is also a lawyer and a few others. They all seemed to have relevant experience and credentials.

Plus the board doesn't ask me to do anything. Although I would if they asked.
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