Homeowners associations are typically run by elected boards, sometimes with the help of committees and managers. The board is generally empowered by the community's official documentation and is the primary body running the HOA. Hired HOA property managers typically have the more hands-on responsibilities and implement decisions made by these bodies.
Committees are formed to assist the board and may oversee specific activities such as landscaping and architecture. Such a committee might make choices about structures and design in common areas, as well as maintenance and upkeep of existing community buildings. This committee would be in charge of selecting any plants and trees to be grown in common areas.
Members of the HOA typically elect board members at annual meetings. Regular exceptions occur if a member must leave the board early for some reason, or when a community is first built. At that time, the developer representatives usually run the board until future residents have closed escrow on enough of the property, often at about 75 percent.
The board is usually responsible for protecting property values and maintaining the community and its amenities, taking action when members of the community violate its governing documents, and tracking HOA funds to ensure that the organization is financially stable.
The documents will spell out any particular limitations or requirements for a specific HOA, although board members must also ensure they are obeying relevant federal and state statutes. Because boards are elected annually, they may function most effectively when they do not attempt to plan too far ahead. While maintaining property values and other long-term goals can be important to the community, some short-term thinking may be a necessity as well.
These groups are generally appointed to specific tasks as warranted by the situation. For example, the board might create a committee to address how the HOA should invest reserve funds or to prioritize repairs to common facilities. The committee chair can lead the group in investigating the situation, developing and assessing possible courses of action, and then making recommendations to the board.
Committees generally have no power beyond making a recommendation. The structures of committees may be set out in the bylaws or other documents. How formal and numerous committees are is likely to depend on the size of the community and HOA, since creating them is a question of efficiency. The larger the community, the more likely it makes sense to have separate committees for issues.
In small communities, there may be only a handful of committees, though most possess at least two. One is in charge of covenants, and serves to enforce the rules on behalf of the HOA board using the measures outlined in its documents and applicable state laws. Violations may include failure to pay HOA dues, failure to meet maintenance standards required of HOA members and similar infractions. Penalties are usually in the form of fines.
Property managers tend to have a variety of duties, serving as customer service professionals and advisers to the board, as well as monitoring the condition and operation of the community. This may include helping the board prioritize possible expenses and dealing with financial questions, assessing maintenance problems to determine their nature and who is responsible for fixing them and similar duties.
They may also be called on when there is a dispute between residents. Community managers deal directly with the operation of a community's water, sewer, power and other utilities whereas the committees and board set policies for them to follow.