The name, condominium owner associations (COA), is often conflated with a homeowners association (HOA), when they actually have very different roles to play. Condominium lawyers discuss the intricacies involved with being a COA board member, and how to protect your organization from the unique risks posed to it.
While it’s always necessary to review your association’s bylaws, being aware of the shortlist of essential duties you must perform will help you avoid legal trouble down the line.
Enforce the Rules
First and foremost, the role of a condo board member is to keep order. Some COAs choose to hire a management company to handle the day to day of the residents and property. Regardless of how it gets done, the rules need to be enforced, and they need to be enforced fairly.
It’s easy for board members get caught up in their authority, and allow their friends or family to slip through the rules. While it may make you the “cool” friend in the group momentarily, showing favoritism in one instance is a sure-fire way to lose authority in another. If a resident has seen you let others break the rules without reprimand, what authority do you have now to enforce them? Understand that your role as a condo board member is to first take care of the property and its residents, and to do so, you may need to get stern every now and again.
Monitor Building Maintenance
Previously mentioned is the opportunity for a condominium board to enlist the services of a management company. While condo owners are responsible for their own internal unit repairs, the maintenance of common areas and amenities falls under the responsibility of the board, in conjunction with the property manager.
If it’s an issue condominium lawyers hate to see, it’s one that involves a lot of finger pointing. Usually, the condo board is not the property manager. However, any necessary repairs or upkeep to the common areas, including stairwells, the building’s exterior and hallways, must be coordinated by the board. The condo board must work together with the property manager to solicit bids when necessary, identify budgeting constraints and prioritize appropriately. For example, if there’s an issue with the building’s security, that repair takes precedence over an issue with the pool.
Survey the Finances
Like any organization or association, there needs to be someone responsible for handling the finances. Of course, a crucial duty for condo board members is to survey the books and keep an eye out for the misuse of funds. To keep your community healthy, condominium lawyers recommend working alongside the property manager whenever possible, so all budgeting goals, constraints and targets are clearly understood.
The key to any healthy organization is smart financial practices. On top of creating the annual operating budget and overseeing yearly financial progress, the condo board is also required to allot a budgetary reserve for emergency expenses and larger improvement projects. Again, working closely with the property manager to ensure dues, fees and other payments are collected in a timely manner, and to ensure any delinquent payments are promptly rectified.
Plan for the Future
The entirety of COA board members responsibility, beyond those stated above, boils down to the ability to plan for the future of the condominium community. Every decision, financial or otherwise, should be made with the future in mind. Consider asking yourself, “How will this budget adjustment affect next year’s plan?” or “How will this modification / addition impact the property value of the community?”
Working with the future in mind is the second-best way to ensure you’re making the right decisions for your community – second only to consulting with expert condominium lawyers.
Consult with Expert Condominium Lawyers
Nothing beats getting right to the source of the information. The above duties, while crucial, barely scratch the surface of all the responsibilities COA board members have to their communities. When in doubt, consult with a condominium lawyer to be sure you are equipped with all the knowledge and tools needed to make a successful, positive impact during your time on the board.
At NowackHoward, we’re proud to counsel HOA and COA board members alike. Don’t wait until you’re facing legal trouble to speak with a condominium lawyer. Understand everything you need to know in the upfront to avoid friction and possible pitfalls later on. Questions? Give us a call at (770) 863-8900 or visit us online to schedule your consultation with Georgia’s best condominium lawyers.