If you’re not careful, you can take huge missteps in overseeing your homeowner association. Here, we summarize what our experts consider the nine biggest mistakes HOA boards have made and explain what the boards should have done instead.
1. Not reading your own governing documents. “One thing I notice a lot is that boards don’t look at their own documents,” says Ben Solomon, an attorney and founder of the Association Law Group in Miami Beach, Fla., who advises more than 500 associations and also represents developers through his second law firm, Solomon & Furshman LLP. “They start operating in a way they think makes sense, that others have told them is OK, or according to what their manager says. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found when a board first comes to us that it’s been noticing meetings incorrectly. Some boards are completely operating outside their declaration and bylaws, and the reality is that’s legally improper.”2. Not following your own rules. Some boards know what their governing documents require, but they ignore those mandates. “One of the biggest problems I see is boards not following their own governing documents on really simple stuff,” says Nancy Polomis, a partner at Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC in Edina, Minn., who advises associations. “There are some associations where the bylaws say the meeting has to be on the third Tuesday in November, and for whatever reason, they just say, ‘We don’t really want to do it then. We’ve never done it that way before.’ I really don’t like to hear that. I say, ‘You’re going to do it now because that’s what your bylaws require.’ Inevitably someone who’s a stickler for procedure will call the board out on that.”