Setting Limits For HOA Committees

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HOA committees are instrumental to success in many communities. They conduct important tasks such as budget creation, architectural request reviews, and election planning. Like any task force, though, there should be limits for HOA committees. 

Types of HOA Committees

There are different types of HOA committees. The period of a committee’s continual existence depends on its type. 

  • Executive Committee. This type of committee is composed only of HOA board members.
  • Standing committees exist indefinitely and perform continuous tasks. Common examples include architectural review committees and finance committees.
  • Special or Ad Hoc Committee. This type of committee exists to address specific problems and dissolves upon fulfilling its purpose. Common examples include decorating committees and special events committees. 

What Are the Right Size Limits for HOA Committees?

How many members should be on an HOA committee? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule regarding committee size. Some committees will have only one member, while others will have several. In many cases, the committee’s size is determined by whatever the board considers necessary.

On the other hand, this does not mean that HOA boards should choose committee sizes on a whim. Size does matter, and it can determine the task force’s effectiveness. Too large committees can be difficult to manage as too many participants weigh in. Meanwhile, committees that are too small for the job might suffer from overwork and inefficiency.

Typically, homeowners association committees range from 2-7 participants. Most committee sizes fall somewhere in between. It’s generally best to determine a committee’s size based on the task and community size.

For example, an architectural review committee for a small HOA might require only 2-3 members. A small group is often enough to inspect homes, review requests, and coordinate with the board. Meanwhile, a large community of 200 properties might need more committee members to divide the workload.

Should There Be Term Limits for HOA Committees?

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In ad hoc committees, the length of service is generally straightforward. Members stay until the task is done and leave once it is finished. However, things are a little more complicated for standing committees. Should associations set term limits on committee members or let them serve as long as they’re willing to? 

This is a good problem, as homeowners associations often struggle to find even a few volunteers. Nonetheless, it is an important question, especially if residents want to serve on a committee but find no openings.

Experts generally agree that neither answer is strictly right or wrong. The same applies to members of the board. If a board member can be re-elected every year, why should the community set term limits when they’re doing a good job? 

HOAs are like mini-democratic societies. The community can elect the board it wants and recall directors who misbehave or do a poor job. Likewise, the board can usually remove committee members who do not help the community meaningfully. 

Conversely, some communities believe finding new blood is vital to community health. This allows the HOA to find new talent and create turnover responsibilities for people as new residents come into the neighborhood. Moreover, it will enable the other members to rest and take a break.

Whether the association foregoes or implements term limits depends on the community’s wishes. If the residents are satisfied with perpetual membership, then so be it. They can also implement term limits if they want to — but it is not always necessary. 

How Long Should Term Limits Be?

In some communities, HOA committee members can serve for decades without leaving their positions. However, if a neighborhood wants to set a term limit, how long should committee members stay in their positions? When should they be replaced? 

Committee term limits can be complex. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to term limits. On the other hand, there are some things an HOA can consider when determining how long members should serve.

1. HOA Size and Complexity

Generally, they should be based on the community’s size and complexity. Larger or more complex neighborhoods may benefit from longer terms to allow the members to gain experience and skills. Meanwhile, smaller neighborhoods are easier to handle. More frequent turnovers can introduce fresh perspectives and improve the community more. 

2. Volunteer Availability

Homeowners are not always available to serve the community. Many communities find it hard to encourage residents to volunteer. Longer terms make more sense if very few are available in your neighborhood. It could be more beneficial to do away with term limits entirely. 

However, shorter limits would be a good idea if there were many eager volunteers in the community. This would give them more opportunities to serve, allowing them to become more invested in the community and feel a sense of belonging. 

3. Balancing Fresh Ideas and Continuity

Long-term and short-term limits have pros and cons. On the one hand, longer limits provide the committee with more stability and continuity. They won’t abandon projects or suddenly reverse their decisions.

On the other hand, shorter limits encourage innovation and introduce more fresh ideas. This can be appropriate for committees that need more variety in idea generation, such as social media committees and events committees. 

4. Governing Documents

The governing documents may have provisions that specify the terms of certain committees. Remember to review them to ensure compliance. If the provisions are too limiting or lenient, the association may amend them to accommodate the community’s needs. 

Who Can Serve on HOA Committees?

Some communities may limit who can serve on HOA committees. However, except for executive committees, all residents should be able to serve on advisory committees. Of course, this does not mean HOAs should accept any applicants. The HOA should still have a set criteria for committee members.

The HOA board is often responsible for setting the qualifications, although the bylaws may also outline certain criteria. Common examples of criteria include the following:

  • Good standing and not delinquent in paying HOA fees
  • Residing within the community
  • Attended a majority of the HOA meetings for the past year

In addition, certain committees may have ex officio members. The term “ex officio” means “by position or office.” Ex officio committee members often serve on the committee because of another position. 

For example, many HOA bylaws consider the president a member of every committee because of their position. This means the president has a right to participate in all committee proceedings and meetings. However, they have no obligation to do so. 

Improving HOA Committee Appointments

Managing HOA committee terms and members can be difficult. Homeowners associations can take the following steps to improve how they appoint committee members. 

1. Stagger Committee Terms

HOA committees need to be robust and efficient. For this reason, replacing all old members with new blood is usually not a good idea. Getting rid of all the veterans could jeopardize the committee’s effectiveness. 

Instead, consider staggering term limits so that only a few slots become vacant. The remaining members can train the newly appointed ones before their term ends, giving the new members enough time to learn the ropes and gain experience.

2. Interview Candidates Beforehand

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HOAs should be careful when appointing committee members. It’s not enough for them to be willing to serve; they must also be on the same page as the board. This is especially true for the architectural review committee. The appointed members should have the same thoughts as the board. Otherwise, they could send mixed signals to the homeowners and cause conflict. 

Interview these types of positions beforehand. This will ensure that you hire the best candidates and that the association operates and enforces rules consistently.

3. Consider Expansion

It’s a good thing when many residents are willing to serve. If there are a lot of candidates and not enough positions, consider expanding certain committees and adding positions. For instance, the architectural review committee could have 5 instead of 3 members on board. This will allow them to divide the work more evenly and allow them more breathing room.

A Case-to-Case Decision

While all committees have size restrictions, they do not always have term limits. Setting term limits for HOA committees falls under the board’s discretion. Term limits can have advantages as they encourage participation and foster innovation. However, keeping the veterans on board perpetually can also benefit communities that want more stability. 

HOA committees are helpful for associations that need more hands to help, but having professional help is still helpful if operations are hard to manage. Personalized Property Management is the best one you can find in Southern California. Call us now at 760-325-9500 or contact us online for more details!