Read the association’s governing documents. As a new board member, you want to familiarize yourself with the governing documents of your association. As a member, you may have given a cursory glance to a few provisions as a specific occasion gave rise to an inquiry. As a board member, the governing documents are the boundaries within which the collective board will make decisions in governing the association.
Familiarize yourself with the state code that governs your association. If your association is a homeowners association, review the Virginia Property Owners Association Act. If your association is a condominium association, review the Virginia Condominium Act. The Virginia Common Interest Community Ombudsman’s Regulations required the establishment of an association complaint procedure for alleged violations of state statutes. It is important to be informed of the state law so that the board can remain in compliance with the law.
Review the association’s contracts with industry professionals. As a new board member, it is important to understand the scope of services that industry professionals have contracted to provide to the community. Consider your relationship with your contracted professionals as a partnership in which you are both working to meet the needs of the community as whole. Keep in mind that the board does not relinquish its responsibility for managing the community just because it hires contractors to manage the tasks required for the daily operation of the association.
Encourage community involvement. Association board business is designed to be conducted during a meeting open to all members of the community. Encourage participation by ensuring that notification of meetings is published in advance. Offer an opportunity for members to express their concerns by holding a public comment period during each meeting.
Educate yourself about your new position. Education is the key to understanding the scope of authority and the responsibility of any new position. As a volunteer leader for your community, take the opportunity to seek out training opportunities for the board as a whole. Many industry professionals offer orientation training to their clients that will discuss the roles of the board and the scope of authority within which the board can act.
Visit the Fairfax County Homeowner and Condominium Associations page for publications, educational presentations, and links to laws that govern common interest communities. The Homeowners’ and Condominium Association Liaison coordinates an educational, bi-monthly television program, Your Community, You're Connected. The program airs on Fairfax County Government Channel 16 and provides an opportunity for association volunteer leaders and members to engage with industry professionals regarding a variety of topics that relate to managing and living in a common interest community. To receive periodic notifications about upcoming educational opportunities, subscribe to firstname.lastname@example.org.