HOA committees are good for every homeowner’s association, but putting one together takes a lot more than just a strong desire to do so. Before you can make a committee, you need to know the different kinds and what each one does.
What Kinds of HOA Committees There Are
HOA committees can be put into one of these three groups:
• Executive Committees. These committees are made up of only HOA board members.
• Standing Committees. These committees have jobs that never end and will always be around.
• Ad Hoc or Special Committees These committees are made to deal with certain problems, and they only last as long as the tasks they were given are done.
In general, HOAs must first set up standing committees, especially those that are required by the governing documents of the association. Most of the time, these are an architecture committee, a landscaping committee, and a budgeting committee. After these committees are set up, a HOA can make other committees, even ones that are just for special projects.
- Architectural Committee of the HOA
An architectural committee, also called an architectural review committee or an architectural control committee, is in charge of making sure that the architectural standards of the community are followed. This committee looks at proposed changes and decides whether or not to approve them based on the rules for the HOA architectural committee that are in the CC&Rs.
One of the most important committees in a HOA is the one that deals with architecture. Without one, the neighborhood could lose its uniform look and have less curb appeal. This, in turn, can cause property values to go down.
- Landscaping Committee of the HOA
Landscaping is important for any homeowners association because it makes the neighborhood look nicer and helps keep property values high.
Usually, smaller communities don’t need landscaping committees because there aren’t that many shared amenities. But this kind of HOA committee will be very helpful for larger associations.
A landscaping committee’s job is to find out about landscaping companies, get bids, and talk to people who might be interested in the job. This committee also works with the company that was chosen, oversees all landscaping work, and keeps the HOA board informed of how things are going. Members who know how to do landscaping are a plus, but it is not a requirement.
- HOA Budget Committee
A budget committee is an important part of how a homeowners association works. The people on this committee help the board plan the budget for the coming year. Subcommittees can also be in charge of reserve studies and investments. Since most of the work of a budget committee has to do with money, its members should know at least a little bit about it.
- Social Committee/Events Committee of the HOA
In a homeowners association, it is important to make people feel like they are part of a group. One way to do this is to plan events and get-togethers that can help people get to know each other better. It’s best to let a HOA social committee handle these kinds of events. Members of this committee can take polls to find out which events residents are interested in and when most of them are free. This committee is also in charge of letting people know about events both online and in person.
- Welcome Committee of the HOA
A welcome committee can help new residents feel more at home and make the process of moving in much easier. Members of this group will stop by to say hello to new homeowners. They can also help the new homeowners get used to the rules and procedures of the neighborhood. Some associations give the job of making people feel welcome to the HOA social committee, while others make a separate committee just for that job.
- HOA Newsletter Committee
If your association sends out newsletters to residents on a regular basis, it will help a lot to put together a newsletter committee. This committee is in charge of making the newsletter look nice, writing the content, and giving copies to all homeowners. Even so, the HOA board should still look over the newsletter before it goes out. That way, you won’t have to worry about being sued.
- HOA Social Media Committee
When it comes to communicating with homeowners, more and more HOAs are moving to digital formats, and for good reason. Social media has a lot of power, and HOAs would be smart to use it to their advantage.
But to reduce the risk of being sued, it is important to make a social media committee. This group can help keep an eye on online forums and social media pages to make sure that everyone follows the rules. This committee can also be in charge of posting notices and updates so that all members know what’s going on.
- Safety Committee of the HOA
In every place, safety is the most important thing. So, you might want to think about making a HOA safety committee to work with the police. This committee can also be in charge of making a neighborhood watch program and making sure it works. Obviously, a safety committee can only do so much to keep the community safe. So, it’s important to set clear goals for this committee and let the homeowners know what they are.
What HOA Committees Can Do for You
Even though each HOA committee has its own job, the main goal of all of them is to make the board members’ jobs easier. The HOA board has a lot of roles and tasks to do. Board members can quickly feel too busy with their other responsibilities and start to forget about some of their duties. By making HOA committees, the HOA board can spread out the work and give some tasks to other people. Work can also be done faster with the help of a dedicated committee.
Aside from this, HOA committees try to get members of the association to take part. It’s hard to get people to get involved in their community, but committees are the perfect way to do it. They give members a way to help the organization and make them feel useful and needed. This has a direct effect on how happy homeowners are in the neighborhood.
How to Set Up Committees for HOAs
Every HOA board must learn the right way to put together committees. Some organizations’ governing documents explain how things work. Most of the time, though, creating HOA committees can be broken down into three steps:
- Make a charter for the committee
The first thing the HOA board needs to do is make a charter for each committee. Simply put, a committee charter shows how a committee will work and how it will relate to the HOA board. The purpose, product, timeline, budget, and how the committee will report must all be in the charter.
Start with what the committee is there to do. If the committee’s job is clear from the start, people will know what to expect from it. The product, or what the committee has to make, comes next. This could be a specific action or a detailed recommendation to the board. Make sure you tell the committee in clear terms what you want them to do and how far they can go. Members will know what they can and cannot do based on these HOA committee rules.
Then you need to set a time limit. Choose if the committee will be a standing committee or ad hoc. If the second is true, when will the committee break up? Most of the time, a committee will also need money to work with. Tell the committee exactly how much of the HOA’s money is available to them and what steps they need to take to get it. If you don’t want to give money, you should tell the committee.
Lastly, your committee’s charter must say that it will report. How should the committee tell the board what they have done? Does it need to be in writing? Is there a certain way to do it? Should the committee email it or hand it in in person? Just as important is figuring out how often the committee has to make these reports.
- Get the right people on board
The obvious next step in making a committee is to put together a group of capable people. Different people who own their own homes have different skills, goals, and personalities.
This can make it hard to choose a member because you have to know how to weigh all of these things.
When choosing committee members, think about the committee’s goal and what it wants to accomplish. For example, a budget committee should give more weight to people who know about money or have good budgeting skills. CPAs are even preferred.
In the same way, members of a welcome committee should be kind and helpful so that new homeowners feel more at ease. People skills matter here.
But that doesn’t mean that skills should be more important than personality. In a HOA committee, there is no room for people who are often hostile or too aggressive and make it hard for the committee to reach its goals. Choose people who are skilled and willing to work with others.
Your HOA board may want to name a board liaison who goes to committee meetings every once in a while to make sure committees do what they’re supposed to. This person can help the committee stay on track and let the board know how things are going. Even though help is appreciated, the board liaison can’t take charge of the committee.
- Figure out how the organization is set up
The last step is to set up an organizational structure. This comes after the selection process. This will make sure that the committee works well. Choose a committee chair and a secretary, taking into account their skills and personalities.
Committee chairs have a lot of jobs to do and are in charge of the committee. Because of this, it is important to choose one who is a good leader and has good people skills. The chair sets the agenda, runs the meetings, and reports to the board. Secretaries write up the minutes of meetings, which they have to share within a certain amount of time. These minutes show how the committee is doing.
What kind of meetings do committees have?
When holding committee meetings, it’s natural to wonder if they should be closed or open to all members. The answer, though, will depend on the laws of your state and the rules of your association. In California, for example, the Open Meeting Act says how board meetings must be run, but there are no rules about how committee meetings must be run.
Most of the time, though, committees that make decisions, like architectural committees, should meet in public to keep the process clear. This includes telling people about the meeting and asking them to come watch.
On the other hand, some committees should not be open to the public. This is the case with things like disciplinary and advisory committees. Since these committees deal with sensitive information, it’s best to hold their meetings in private. Though, suggestions made by advisory committees to the board should be looked at at a public board meeting.
Making sure committees work well
HOA committees play important roles in the community as a whole. They help the HOA board reach the goals of the association quickly and effectively. Besides that, committees help people get to know each other and encourage HOA members to join in. But these groups will fail if they don’t get off to a good start and aren’t pushed to keep going. After you set up your committee, make sure to give them feedback and let them know how much you appreciate their work. A simple “thank you” can make a big difference.
California Association Management & Real Estate Inc can help your HOA set up and run committees if it needs to. Call us at (909) 9714055 to get in touch with us today.