Committees often play a significant role in a homeowners association. But what exactly does an HOA committee do? And are there different types of committees?
What Is an HOA Committee?
An HOA committee is a committee of volunteer homeowners formed to fulfill a specific purpose. Committees support the HOA board by sharing a subset of responsibilities.
There are several benefits to committees. For one thing, they help the board juggle its many duties, which can be burdensome, especially for larger communities. Committees are also great for fostering engagement among association members; homeowners can volunteer their talents and allow them to contribute.
Finally, committees act as a gateway for future board members. Many homeowners feel apprehensive about joining the HOA board, and starting small — like joining a committee — can help nudge them in the right direction. If your community has difficulty filling open board seats, encouraging owners to join a committee will allow them to build enough courage to eventually step up to a larger role.
Types of HOA Committees
There are three general types of committees in homeowners associations: executive committees, standing committees, and ad hoc committees.
Executive committees consist entirely of the board. Standing committees are committees that have long-standing tasks and last indefinitely. Meanwhile, ad hoc committees are formed to carry out a specific purpose and dissolve after fulfilling that purpose. Both standing and ad hoc committees can have non-board members.
Committees can be further classified according to function. And while the types of committees associations have can vary depending on their needs, some committees are more common than others.
1. HOA Architectural Control Committee
The HOA Architectural Committee ensures that the community’s architectural guidelines are met. This committee constantly reviews the guidelines to identify areas of improvement, inspects the community for any violations, and oversees the architectural approval process. Depending on the HOA, this committee may be able to make decisions or be allowed to make recommendations to the board, making the final call.
2. HOA Landscaping Committee
The Landscaping Committee shares similar responsibilities to the Architectural Control Committee but more about landscaping. This committee is more common in single-family communities due to the nature of such neighborhoods. Additionally, some associations need a separate committee for landscaping and, instead, have the Architectural Committee perform this function.
3. HOA Finance or Budget Committee
The Finance or Budget Committee assists the board with budgeting and financial management. This committee’s responsibilities include helping the board with budget planning, expense tracking, bookkeeping, reserve management, and dues collection. Because of the nature of the duties, this committee usually works closely with or is led by the treasurer.
4. HOA Social or Events Committee
The Social or Events Committee instills community spirit and camaraderie among association members. This committee plans social gatherings, holiday events, and more. The HOA board typically sets aside a budget for this committee. Sometimes, this committee also takes on the role of managing the community’s social media presence.
5. HOA Welcome Committee
The Welcome Committee is in charge of all activities related to new homeowners. This committee might throw a mixer or get-to-know gathering for all new owners (if there are plenty) or introduce them through various communication channels. The Welcome Committee may also be responsible for putting together a welcome packet, which usually consists of the HOA’s governing documents, merch, guides, and FAQs.
You will typically see a separate Welcome Committee for larger communities. But, for smaller communities, the responsibilities of the Welcome Committee are usually absorbed by the Social Committee.
6. HOA Newsletter Committee
The Newsletter Committee is responsible for scheduling, planning, executing, and distributing the association’s newsletter. This committee was more common back when the Internet was not as ubiquitous. Nowadays, Newsletter Committees can still exist, though homeowners will usually feel their presence online through e-newsletters.
7. HOA Covenants Committee
The Covenants Committee, also known as the Violations Committee or Compliance Committee, helps the board will violations enforcement. Sometimes, the HOA board can handle this task on its own. But, particularly in larger associations, violations enforcement and tracking can quickly become too heavy. This committee can ease some of that burden by helping monitor violations, keep track of hearings, and suggest necessary rule changes.
How to Establish an HOA Committee
If your community wants to form committees, you must follow some key steps.
1. Confirm or Create Guidelines in the Governing Documents
The first thing you must do is check your governing documents for HOA committee guidelines. These guidelines will tell you whether or not you can form a committee, how you can go about the process, and any additional rules you may need to follow. You will have to create committee guidelines if you don’t have committee guidelines.
2. Determine Which Committees to Construct
The next step is to identify which committees to create for your association. This will depend on your community and board’s needs. A Finance or Budget Committee may be beneficial if your HOA board needs help with budgeting. If your board has trouble monitoring violations, then a Covenants Committee may be in order.
You will also need to write a charter for each committee you want to create. This charter dictates the following:
- Mission statement
- Decision-making powers
- Authority limitations
- Timeframe of existence
3. Establish Structure and Roles
Committees can’t operate without structure. Similar to the HOA board, committee members should have designated roles. Each committee may require a chairperson who acts as the presiding member. It’s also good to have a secretary who can take minutes.
As for committee meetings, associations generally choose whether or not to allow owners to attend, depending on state laws and the HOA’s governing documents. The Open Meeting Act in California does not apply to committee meetings, though there may be an exception if most board members participate in the forum.
4. Recruit Members
The final step is to recruit members. Determine how many members can serve on a particular committee, then entice owners to join. While you can welcome any owners, it’s good to have a matrix of sorts when selecting committee members. Apart from skill, members should be willing to serve, maintain an open mind, and work well with others.
Board members can also join committees, provided your governing documents permit it. Typically, board members who serve on a committee act as the chair.
Which Committees to Have
An HOA committee provides benefits to homeowners associations and their boards. The exact responsibilities of such a committee will depend on its function. Assessing the needs of your community will help you determine which committees are worth your while.
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