As you create your HOA board, your goal is to create a solid platform for providing the best possible living experience for all of the members of your community. Unfortunately, there will be times when there is conflict within the HOA--or worse, times when members have a conflict of interest. Creating a solid HOA board member code of ethics is one of the best ways to ensure that members are committed to honest board service.
The HOA should be focused on maintaining the HOA common areas used by all members of the neighborhood, managing the finances of the HOA, and ensuring that all members of the community have equal access to the resources they moved into the neighborhood to enjoy. Unfortunately, there are times when problems arise. This could include:
- A board member with a personal agenda that they're trying to further: a desire to change HOA rules to better fit their specific desires, for example.
- A board member who is misdirecting finances, whether choosing to use HOA fees for persona reasons or by furthering their agenda even when it isn't in the best interests of the community as a whole
- A board member who is conflict with other members of the HOA, especially those who aren't part of the board
- A board member who is "too busy" to show up for meetings or events and is never available when they are needed
When you're responsible for maintaining a community, from ensuring that the rules are followed to taking care of maintenance on community property, it's critical that you have established rules to help govern your behavior--and a HOA board member code of ethics is one of the best ways to protect the entire association. Not only does it help maintain appropriate behavior, it also ensures that you have guidelines to follow when there is a conflict or you feel that a member of the board isn't keeping up with their duties.
What Goes in the Code
There are several things that should be covered by your HOA board member code of ethics. You don't want to make board members feel as though they should always be looking over their shoulders, but you do want to ensure that they're abiding by the rules that will help create a more effective HOA.
The Commitment Clause: Serving on the board for your HOA is a time commitment. Members who are unwilling to commit that time and energy should not be part of the board.
Conflict of Interest: Board members who have a conflict of interest regarding a decision made by the board should excuse themselves from the vote. This will ensure that there is no accusation of bias.
Professional Behavior: Members of the board should use professional behavior at all times. This includes maintaining the privacy of other members of the HOA, conducting themselves appropriately during meetings, and treating other members of the HOA with respect and decency, even when they appear to be in violation of the rules.
Business Discussions: Board business should be handled at board meetings. Members of the board should not conspire outside meetings in an effort to shut out other members of the board that they feel disagree with them.
Discrimination: If discrimination against other members of the board or of the HOA is observed, members of the board found to be guilty should be excused from the board immediately. This includes discrimination on the basis of personal dislike as well as more traditional examples of discrimination.
Professional Contractor Services: There will be many times when it's necessary for the board of directors to hire professional services. A clause in the code of ethics should describe the process for selecting a contractor: gathering bids, checking reviews, and voting as a board, rather than one member making the decision in favor of someone they know.
Building a code of ethics for your HOA takes time and effort. Ideally, however, you want a code that will encourage all members of the board to behave in a professional manner, voting in a way that is beneficial to all members of the community. Your code of ethics helps define the rules your HOA will live in--and making it solid will ensure that the members of your HOA don't dread every contact from the board.