The ultimate goal in a homeowners association is for everyone to be respectful and live together peacefully. However, it’s hard to accomplish both of these goals when you have members breaking the rules – especially if it’s a board member. It’s the responsibility of an HOA board to protect, maintain, and enhance the Association through its leadership, so what happens when one of its own is breaking the rules?
Board members should be treated like any other members of the HOA. Being a member of the board doesn’t give them special privileges to break rules. They also aren’t exempt from any of the HOA rules and regulations. When a board member is breaking the rules, they should be held accountable and go through the proper processes as any other HOA member would. This includes:
- Making sure the member has a copy of the HOA Rules & Regulations
- Sending a violation letter notifying the member of the violation
- Fining the member if the behavior continues
- Consulting legal counsel
Depending on the situation, it may be a good idea to seek legal counsel early on in the process because you are not an attorney. Even if you think you know what you’re doing and are trying to save money, you are still putting the Association at risk of being sued.
For example, if you call the board member out in a meeting they have grounds to sue. Instead, request an executive session to discuss the situation privately.
Who Can Call a Board Meeting and Can an Officer Refuse?
Any board member can ask for a special session. Anyone who holds an office on the board (such as president) cannot refuse to attend. The board also cannot vote someone off the board, but it can strip them from holding an office position – they would just be demoted to regular board member.
An officer on the Board cannot refuse a board meeting nor do they have implied authority to make independent decisions. These responsibilities are listed in the Bylaws.
On the flipside, members can’t call meetings, but they can request to be on the agenda at a board meeting. Members can start a recall petition and only the membership can recall a board member – otherwise it would be chaos and your board members would continually turn over just because someone didn’t like them.
All of this applies unless your Association has developed rules of conduct that say otherwise and detail out specific actions to take, and all board members have signed it.
As an HOA board member, you open yourself to living a more public life within the homeowners association. It’s your responsibility to conduct yourself accordingly because, let’s face it, people talk too much and some will find any excuse to find fault with people.
If your board is finding that homeowners and board members are consistently breaking rules, it may be time to revisit specific rules to see if they’re unreasonable and need to be changed. This is just one way board members can make a reasonable business decision.
The Board may also want to consider hiring an HOA manager to both hold them accountable and help them navigate the governance of the Association. Without an HOA manager, some board members start to see themselves as “special” and take advantage of doing wrong for their gain.