By Roberto C. Blanch / Published January 2023
A well-functioning community association board requires dedicated directors who are all doing their part to help make their enclave the best it could possibly be. Each of a board’s members and officers, which generally include the president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary, play vital roles and make essential contributions to the admini-strative and financial well-being of their association.
With that in mind, the office which is often perceived to be most important is that of the association president. While the individual serving in such a capacity may not cast a vote having a greater weight than other directors or officers, the president may set the tone for a well-operated community or for one that leaves room for improvement.
First, association presidents are generally required to sign many legal documents and official association records such as new amendments and contracts. As such, they should be very involved in the work that goes into the development of all the important documents and records, so they know exactly what they are signing—and so as to possess individual knowledge as to the purpose and consequence of each in order to be able to respond to any potential member inquiries about them.
Additionally, while the oversight of association budgetary and financial matters primarily goes to the treasurer, the president is usually very much involved in all major financial matters and often plays a lead role in vetting and approving any emergency expenses that may arise. That is one of the reasons why successful community association presidents should be versatile, possess a broad knowledge of association concerns, and be able to dedicate the time necessary to focus on such tasks.
Another highly visible and clearly delineated duty of association presidents is that they serve as the chairperson of board meetings. The ability to successfully preside over board meetings is facilitated by working in close conjunction with the other board members and qualified property management (and at times, legal counsel) to prepare the meeting agendas, while also focusing on an efficient and effective presentation and, if necessary, votes on topics raised for discussion. The knowledge that the president has gained from personal involvement with management, legal counsel, and other professionals, including vendors and contractors, will further enable them to address questions, concerns, or comments raised by members at the board meetings.
During community association meetings, association presidents typically set the tone. They should encourage cordial and informed discussion over all board matters and decisions and ask pertinent questions of the community’s professional experts to help ensure all the necessary information is relayed to the attendees. At times, discussion at meetings may become spirited; during such, the president should maintain an unbiased and objective presence and make reasonably expected efforts to refrain from allowing heated exchanges or discussions about agenda items or other community topics to derail the progress of the meeting or the board’s objectives.
Associations should always turn to highly experienced property managers, attorneys, insurance agents/brokers, financial professionals, and others for their expert guidance and representation. The president of the association often serves as the primary liaison for the community with its professional experts and should work closely with these individuals to help ensure the community is making ample use of all the knowledge and resources that can help it succeed.
In some communities, the president selects and appoints committee members for budget/finance, enforcement/fining, architectural review, and other committees. The best association leaders maintain impartiality in such appointments and base their decisions upon the candidates’ level of competence, expertise, and independence.
Community associations rely on dedicated volunteer owners to serve as board members and officers. The members of such communities should continuously ask themselves if the important matters impacting their own property value and those of their fellow owners are best served by their own involvement in such actions, or whether they wish to have others do it for them. That said, while serving as an association president may become overwhelming at times, with the help of qualified and experienced professionals, board members and officers can make an impactful contribution to the current and future success of their communities.
Roberto C. Blanch
Partner, the Siegfried Rivera
Roberto C. Blanch is a partner with the Siegfried Rivera law firm and one of the most prolific contributors to its community association law blog at www.FloridaHOALawyerBlog.com. He is board certified as an expert in community association law by the Florida Bar. The firm maintains offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, and its attorneys focus on community association, real estate, construction, and insurance law. Roberto can be reached at 1-800-737-1390 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.siegfriedrivera.com.