Updated: Apr 26
If you’re thinking about joining your Homeowners Association’s (HOA) Board because you want to make big money, we have some bad news: You probably won’t.
Most community association Board members serve as volunteers. While there may be some exceptions depending on where you happen to live and how your association is structured, Associations do not pay their board members. There are some very practical reasons for this.
Governing Documents Likely Prohibit Payment
The Association’s governing documents likely state that paying Board members is expressly forbidden. Board members are considered volunteers. They aren’t paid a salary or a fee, and they don’t get to benefit from any special perks. Volunteers serve because they care about their community, and they want to be part of the leadership that makes it better.
There are often provisions either in the governing documents or state statutes where professionals can be hired to be Board members when there are not enough owners that will volunteer. This is typically a very costly endeavor and should be avoided even if begging for volunteers is required; because paying a CPA, Attorney, and/or other professional’s rates for service to conduct the Association’s business can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars and more.
Board Members Have a Fiduciary Duty
Board members have a lot of responsibilities to the Community Association, and one of them is to carefully watch how every dollar is spent. It’s going to create a huge conflict of interest if you’re responsible for making decisions about how the community’s money is spent – and one of the options for spending that money is giving Board members a raise.
Board Members Must Pay Dues
Not only will you not be paid for the time and effort you put into being a Board member, you’ll also need to continue paying your own association dues and assessments. While waiving the dues might be a great way to motivate more homeowners to serve on the Board, it’s a huge conflict of interest. You wouldn’t want to vote on raising fees or implementing a new assessment if you knew you didn’t have to contribute to it yourself. It’s unfair to the other dues-paying members of your community.
Payment Would Invite Scandal
As a member of your HOA’s Board, you’re responsible for reviewing financials, forecasting budgets, and making decisions about how money should be raised and spent. If you’re being paid to make these decisions, your homeowners might worry about the interests that are driving your decisions. Are you doing what’s best for you or what’s best for the community? As a Board member, you are expected to put the community first. That might get tricky if your paycheck is tied to any outcomes, and it would be easy to question your motives.
This Doesn’t Mean There Aren’t Benefits
Even though you aren’t getting paid as a Board member, there are some very good reasons to join your community association Board anyway. First of all, volunteer work is good for you. Studies have shown there are real mental and emotional benefits to service work. Second, you have an opportunity to effect real change. If you don’t like the condition of your HOA’s common areas or you’ve always wondered why a pool couldn’t be put in – joining the Board is a great way to make recommendations and implement plans. Finally, you get to be an example to other neighbors. Leadership and commitment are attractive qualities, and if you can embrace them, others will too.
If you have any additional questions about joining an HOA Board, please contact us at Community Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more about our experience with HOAs and other associations.