Understanding Your Role as a Board Member

Understanding Your Role as a Board Member

The Vital Duties of Board Members in Florida’s Community Associations

By Ashley Dietz-Gray / Published March 2024

Photo by iStockphoto.com/tadamichi

Florida’s vibrant communities are not just defined by their picturesque landscapes; they are also shaped by the dedicated individuals who serve on the boards of community associations. Whether in homeowners’ associations (HOAs) or condominium associations, board members play a pivotal role in steering the community towards prosperity.

     Community association boards are very different in form and function than other boards. Why?

     Your community board is a political organization.

     It is run by unpaid volunteers.

     The shareholders all have very significant investments.

     The shareholders will RARELY agree on a common set of goals and objectives.

     You can’t go home and leave it behind because your job is your home!

     No matter how successful you may have been in business, government, politics, military, education, or any other entity, you can never be fully prepared for your experience on a community association board. Let’s delve into the multifaceted duties that these committed volunteers undertake to ensure the well-being of their communities.

Financial Stewardship

     At the heart of effective community governance lies financial stewardship. The board of directors, comprised of elected community members, is entrusted with the responsibility of managing the association’s finances. This includes crafting budgets, collecting assessments, and making financial decisions that align with the best interests of the community. The intricate dance of balancing budgets, maintaining reserves, and navigating financial complexities ensures the association has the funds necessary to sustain and enhance community living.

     It’s never been more challenging to balance a budget for a community association in Florida, especially for condominiums, which are facing huge budget increases due to insurance, inflation, and legislation that has emerged post-Surfside.

Rules and Regulations Oversight

     Maintaining a harmonious living environment requires diligent oversight of community rules and regulations. The effective formation and oversight of two committees are key to make this work: 

     Fining/Compliance Committee—holds hearings that allow owners to be heard regarding the evidence against them and judge the validity of the violation for which they were fined.

     The Architectural Review Committee (ARC)—reviews and approves or denies owner-proposed modifications, additions, or alterations that need to be assessed to ensure compliance with the standards maintained by the community association.

     From parking regulations to architectural guidelines, board members need to ensure that residents adhere to the established rules, fostering a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing community.

Common Area Maintenance and Enhancement

     The board of a community association is tasked with overseeing the physical well-being of the community, including common areas and amenities. While individual homeowners are responsible for their properties, the board takes on the crucial role of overseeing the maintenance and enhancement of shared spaces. From landscaping to infrastructure repairs, board members work diligently to ensure that common areas, such as pools, parks, and clubhouses, remain inviting and well maintained. This duty extends beyond routine maintenance; boards must strategically plan for significant capital repairs and improvements, demonstrating foresight and careful financial planning.

Transparent Communication

     Effective communication is the cornerstone of successful community association leadership. Board members must keep residents well informed about the association’s activities, decisions, and financial matters. Transparent communication fosters trust and engagement among residents, creating a sense of community cohesion. Regular community meetings, newsletters, and online platforms are tools that board members utilize to disseminate information. Ensuring residents have access to governing documents and other essential information contributes to transparency, empowering residents to actively participate in the community.

Legal Compliance and Governance

     Community associations in Florida operate within a legal framework outlined by statutes. Chapter 718 of the Florida Statutes, also known as the Condominium Act, is a chapter of law that governs condominiums in the State of Florida; and Chapter 720 of the Florida Statutes, also known as the Homeowners’ Association Act, is a chapter of law that governs certain types of homeowners’ associations in the State of Florida. The board, in consultation with their association attorney, ensures the association’s governance aligns seamlessly with these statutes.

     To fulfill this duty, board members often seek legal counsel to interpret and apply complex legal requirements. This legal diligence not only safeguards the association from potential pitfalls but also ensures that decisions align with the broader legal framework governing community associations.

Continuous Education and Certification

     In addition to their ongoing responsibilities, board members are required to enhance their knowledge and skills through continuous education. Newly elected board members must complete the required board member certification class within the 90-day window after their election. In lieu of attending a board member certification class, board members can sign a document stating they have read their association’s governing documents. However, most attorneys advise their board members to attend a board member certification course. This educational course not only fulfills a mandatory requirement but also equips board members with essential knowledge to navigate the complexities of community governance effectively. Platforms like Campbell’s GetFAN.org provide valuable resources and notifications about upcoming educational events, including board member certification courses. Board members who invest in continuous learning contribute to the overall competence and success of community governance.

     Serving on the board of a community association in Florida is no small feat. It requires dedication, a keen sense of responsibility, and the ability to navigate the intricate landscape of community governance. Board members, including those serving on various committees, are not merely volunteers; they are stewards of their communities, shaping the present and future of the neighborhoods they serve.

     For those considering board positions, understanding the depth and breadth of these responsibilities is crucial. It’s a commitment to the well-being of the community, a pledge to preserve property values, and a dedication to fostering a community where residents can truly thrive. As the unsung heroes behind the scenes, board members play a pivotal role in shaping the unique tapestry of Florida’s diverse and dynamic communities.

Ashley Dietz Gray

VP Marketing, Campbell Property Management

     Ashley Dietz Gray has been handling the marketing at Campbell Property Management since 2013. She is a native Floridian who shines at building relationships and getting things done with a positive attitude. Ashley graduated summa cum laude from Florida Atlantic University with her bachelor’s in communications. She has always believed “knowledge is power” and has made it Campbell’s mission to offer free education through in-person events, webinars, and their blog, Florida Association News (FAN), to board members and property managers of condominiums and HOAs throughout Florida. Ashley has worked hard to spread the word about FAN, which currently has over 19,000 subscribers. To check out FAN and access all of Campbell’s past and upcoming webinars, visit ReadFAN.org. For more information, call 954-427-8770, email contact@CampbellPropertyManagement.com, or visit www.campbellpropertymanagement.com.