One way residents can help ensure that their homeowners associations (HOAs) set reasonable rules is to get involved themselves by joining their association board. HOA boards (likewise, condominium and cooperative boards) are made up of residents and the positions are acquired through elections. In fact, more than 1.25 million "common interest development" (CID) residents nationwide serve on their community association boards, with an additional 300,000 serving on board committees.
This article discusses the reasons why you may want to get involved in your HOA. See FindLaw's Home Owners' Associations section for additional resources and articles.
Depending on the structure of the organization, the board can have fairly sweeping power. Homeowners association boards can in fact work effectively and harmoniously, but it takes work. Many of the people who serve on these boards, after all, may have no governance experience.
Those who have no interest in joining a board should stay involved nonetheless. The best way to know what is going on within the community is to attend board meetings and to hold members accountable. As with any community, the best way to ensure that one's agenda is put forth is to be active within that community.
Groups such as the Community Associations Institute (CAI) are useful for new or established board members. They provide data about CIDs and homeowners associations, and they also advocate on behalf of homeowners associations. In addition, CAI offers a series of educational programs, both nationally, and locally, for board members, property managers, and CID residents. The goal is to make the governance of the CID a good experience for all involved.
This serves a practical goal as well as a humanitarian one. From a practical standpoint, the well-run homeowners association whose regulations are understood and respected within the community is a more attractive place to live, which means that property values remain more stable. From a human standpoint, a harmonious partnership between the homeowners association and the residents adds to the quality of life which, after all, is the primary reason people move into community developments in the first place.
Getting involved in your HOA is a great way to influence the policies and regulations of your community.