Accell Property Management, Inc. Board Member Orientation Handbook

An Easy Introduction to Community Associations
By Sandra Feistel, CCAM

Congratulations on being elected to your community's Board of Directors. The opportunity to serve your community can be a very rewarding experience.

Community associations are created for the purpose of maintaining common areas, providing architectural standards to maintain a harmonious streetscape, providing use restrictions and rules for maintaining a harmonious neighborhood environment, and in some cases (in attached homes) to provide maintenance of each home. This "purpose" or "charter" is intended for the general use, benefit and welfare of the owners. In fulfilling this purpose, the primary goal should be to maintain, protect, preserve and enhance the value of the property.

As members of the Board, your first task should be to become familiar with your governing documents. The governing documents include the CC&Rs, By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, Rules and Regulations, Architectural Guidelines and other documents established to guide the operation and administration of the Association. Your governing documents should be considered your basic guide for running the business called the Association. These documents provide the Board with a list of powers and authority, establish protective standards, restrictions and rules and serve as general guidelines for the operation of the Association. The following is a brief summary explaining your documents in the order of authority:

Articles of Incorporation
The Articles of Incorporation generally state the purpose of the Association. They serve to establish the Association as a non-profit mutual benefit corporation, with the purpose of providing community services and facilities for the general use, benefit and welfare of the homeowners.

Declarations of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs)
The CCamp;Rs define the restrictions, duties and powers of the Association and will be referred to frequently in the day-to-day operations of the Association. Their intent is to enhance, preserve and protect the value, desirability and attractiveness of the entire community for the benefit of all the homeowners. The CC∓Rs provide provisions for the creation and collection of assessments, duties and powers of the Association, architectural control, repair and maintenance of the common elements, insurance requirements, easements, rights of lenders and enforcement of provisions.

The By-Laws apply to the day-to-day management of the Association and the functions of the Board. The By-Laws contain provisions regarding rule-making powers, responsibilities of the Board of Directors, election procedures, meetings and membership.

Rules and Regulations and Architectural Guidelines
Most community Association CC&Rs or By-Laws promulgate to the Board of Directors, the authority to establish and enforce Rules and Regulations, Architectural Guidelines and Standards. These documents are a means for your Association to personalize a portion of the governing documents to the specific needs and wants of your community members. When establishing and enforcing Rules and Regulations and Architectural Guidelines, your Board of Directors is required to do so consistent with existing law and the restrictions and rights established in the Articles of Incorporation, CC&Rs and By-Laws. It is a good idea to have an attorney review any proposed rule or architectural guideline prior to adoption to verify its compliance with state and federal law as well as any superseding governing document.

Your Board of Directors is the final authority over the maintenance, administration and financial well-being of the Association. Only the Board has the authority to make policies and decisions on behalf of the Association. Sometimes the Board may choose to delegate these powers to duly appointed committees or a management agent. However, responsibility always lies with the Board.

There will be one term you will hear over and over again in reference to your role as a member of the Board. The term is fiduciary duty. Each Board member has a duty to act as follows:

  • In good faith
  • With undivided loyalty
  • With reasonable care and diligence
  • With no conflict of interest
  • In good judgment and with discretion

Generally, the Association's committees and manager act to carry out the decisions and policies of the Board. A professional manager will also provide advice and counsel to assist the Board in fulfilling its fiduciary duties. Additionally, committees can be valuable in researching and gathering information regarding specific issues related to the operation of the Association.

As a Board member, you should remember that the primary purpose of the Association is to maintain, protect, preserve and enhance the value of the property. Board members, as part of the corporate body, are empowered to act on behalf of the Association to achieve this purpose. Accell Property Management, your documents and experts in the Association field are available to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill your duty as a Board member.

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