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Who’s who in the association structure

Have you ever wondered how your association makes decisions? Who determines how assessments are spent? How does that streetlight get repaired? Who sent me this violation notice and how do they know I have chickens in my backyard?

Understanding the behind-the-scenes structure of an association is vital for happy communities. A lack of understanding can oftentimes lead to unhappy homeowners and cause concerns in the community.

So, who’s who in my association? Depending on the structure of your association, there can be multiple different parties involved, all of whom serve a distinct role in your community.

For new and developing communities, you may hear the term Developer or Declarant thrown around. The declarant is the entity that establishes the association, creates the legal documents needed to operate, and typically makes up the association’s first board of Directors. The declarant remains in control of the association until a predetermined number of homeowners occupy the community and can elect their own board of directors.

Speaking of the Board of Directors, the Board, for short, is a group of community volunteers who are elected by other members of the association and are authorized to act on the community’s behalf. The Board makes the business decisions for the community.

The Board is comprised of four main positions: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. An association’s governing documents will determine the size of the Board, which can oftentimes be between 3 and 9 people.

How do community volunteers manage the day-to-day management of an association? Oftentimes, associations hire a Management Company to assist in the daily management of their association. How does the management company assist the Board and association? They employ Community Managers.

Community managers work closely with board members, community leaders, and homeowners to ensure that the association is well-maintained. Community managers perform community inspections, supervise vendors and service providers, communicate with homeowners, and attend meetings. A community manager also ensures compliance with association rules and regulations and responds to emergencies. The community manager also acts as an advisor for the Board, helping to ensure that the board is working within its scope of authority, making professional recommendations, and providing guidance through processes like document revisions, budgets, and much, much more. But it is important to note that the manager does not have decision-making authority when it comes to association matters. This authority lies solely with the Board.

Essentially, the community manager has his or her hand in every aspect of ensuring that the association, helping to ensure that the association is running as smoothly as possible.

Service Providers play an integral role in the maintenance of any community association. For an association to be successful, it needs multiple vendors that can be relied on to maintain and enhance the community. While needs vary from community to community, most communities need service providers consisting of Landscaping, Pool Services, Maintenance, Trash Collection, Pond or Lank Maintenance, Electricians, Plumbers, and more.

In addition to service providers, most associations also utilize the expertise of Professional Advisors. Associations are complex animals, and oftentimes, Boards and Managers need to rely on subject-matter experts to advise on certain issues or concerns. Examples of Professional Advisors might be attorneys, insurance agents, and CPAs, all of whom work with Boards and Managers for the betterment of the association.

Board members, managers, and vendors all play a vital role in the successful management of a community association. All parties should be working together as a team to help ensure that the owners they serve, love where they live.

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