What is the key to a neighborhood that people enjoy being a part of? Subdivisions are built by developers, and houses are built by builders, but neighborhoods and communities must be built by the people who live in them. Homeowner’s Associations offer unique opportunities for neighbors to come together over common interests that can be of benefit to everyone. With a nominal time commitment and a solid dedication to cooperation, these benefits can be realized through committees and clubs. Today, we’ll be talking about committees.
Committees have no direct authority in the Association beyond what their Board of Directors delegates to them, but they often perform critical functions in the neighborhood. Getting involved with a committee is a great way to learn how your homeowner’s association functions, what its primary needs are, and who all is involved. As an added bonus, you get the opportunity to get to know a variety of people from all over your neighborhood. Here are a few examples of common committees in the HOAs we manage:
Purpose: Plans and coordinates community activities. Such activities may be held at the discretion of the Social Committee (with approval of the Board of Directors) to encourage residents to “get to know their neighbors” and be actively involved in the improvement and/or care of their community.
Promotion of social events can also be coordinated by this committee through various communication tools including the Community Newsletter, Association Website notices, prepared hand-outs delivered to each home, or via the vast landscape of social media platforms.
Purpose: Charged with the responsibility of monitoring all the community’s landscaped areas to ensure a uniform and attractive appearance throughout the Association. This may include observing routine maintenance activities and notifying the Association Manager of any conditions that may exist requiring the attention of a landscaper. If needed, a representative of the Landscaping Committee may discuss their concerns with the landscaping contractor directly. Committee members should also be alert to potential pest infestation with any of the landscaped areas, including community shrubs, trees, etc. that may require extermination.
In the event improvements are needed (including but not limited to erosion corrections, tree and shrub replacements or additions), this committee can help define the specific improvements to be made. Upon completion, the committee may request the Association Manager obtain bids for and on behalf of the Committee, or certain members of the Committee may solicit bids individually. When enough competitive estimates are obtained, a presentation to the Board is made to obtain approval for funds to be budgeted for improvements as recommended. Upon approval, the Committee may oversee the improvements as they are made to ensure that they are completed satisfactorily.
Members of the Committee may also participate in personally planting or routine (minor) maintenance of certain flower bed areas within the community as deemed appropriate.
The Landscaping Committee should also make recommendations to the Board or the Association Manager for improvement or additions to be made to the community’s landscaping lighting.
Purpose: Keep all owner/members current on community and Association activities and other items of interest. This may be accomplished by providing handouts, making direct mailings, or through a Community Newsletter, which would be published on a routine basis (usually quarterly). If the Board of Directors is weighing an important matter, this committee may be commissioned to conduct a survey of the neighborhood to find out if there is a consensus on the issue.
Crime Watch or Community Watch Committee
Purpose: To assist the community and its residents in maintaining a “crime free” community. They may help to educate the residents regarding how they can take part in “neighbors watching out for neighbors” and reporting any questionable activity to the proper authorities. Members also endeavor to establish a good working relationship between the community and the local Police Department.
Where there are special areas or activities within the community that occur on a routine basis, a committee can be very helpful both to the Association and the Association Manager. A professional management company should encourage owners/members to participate in community activities by providing them support that may be needed. If a committee is weak, or is totally inactive, the Management Company should be ready to step in and complete whatever is needed that the committee failed to handle on its own.
In the event there is a special activity which is out of the ordinary, the appointment of a “Task Force” or “Ad Hoc Committee” may be appropriate. With the appointment of such a committee the members are dismissed after the specific task or activity has been achieved.
The use of committees can save an association money, bring efficiencies to various tasks, and help to identify leaders in the community. While dealing with committees may present certain challenges to a Board of Directors, identifying those members who are capable and will step up to serve the community helps ensure a pool of leadership to draw from in the future.
Next time, we will discuss the exciting opportunities for clubs in an HOA.