On August 18, 2016, Community Associations Institute (CAI) Board of Trustees approved a new public policy to address the issue of training for community association board members.
Being elected to your board of directors of your condominium, coop, or homeowners association is serious business. Nearly every state in the U.S. has law governing the authority of boards of directors of community associations. Community associations are governed by neighbors – homeowner volunteer leaders who are elected by and accountable to their neighbors to set policy for the community association.
The education of members of governing boards of community associations concerning their roles and responsibilities is essential to a well-functioning community. As a result, CAI finds education of governing board members to be critically important.
For state or local governments exploring the idea of legislating education of community association board members, CAI encourages any mandated education requirement to focus on incentives and tools to encourage boards to utilize existing industry tools to achieve educational goals rather than create new processes or burdens.
For the 2.35 million community association board and committee members working an estimated 80 million hours collectively to serve their communities, CAI strongly recommends these communities voluntarily adopt the following practice:
- Within 90 days after being elected or appointed to the board of a community association, each newly elected or appointed board member should certify in writing to the secretary of the association that he or she has read the association’s declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, governing documents, rules and current written policies; that he or she will work to uphold the documents and policies; and that he or she will uphold their fiduciary responsibility to the association’s members.
- Board members should engage in training to increase their level of knowledge, professionalism, competence and effectiveness as leaders of community associations. CAI encourages boards to receive education in the following areas: ethics and leadership, financials and reserves, insurance and risk management, rules creation and enforcement, meetings and elections, and communication, conflict resolution, and community building.
- Board and committee members’ should attest, and renew annually, to comply with CAI’s Model Code for Ethics for Community Association Board Members.
- Community association boards of directors should approve a resolution, renewed annually, to adopt and comply with CAI’s Community Association Governance Guidelines and CAI’s Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, and fund training programs and membership in CAI for the community association board that provides information for community association governance.
*Here are links to the above referenced resources – Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities, Model Code of Ethics for Community Association Board Members, and Community Association Governance Guidelines.
The policy was vetted through the CAI Community Association Volunteer Committee, members of the state legislative action committees, and the Government & Public Affairs Committee. Many felt the policy should clearly mandate board member education and just as many others recognized unintended consequences that may arise from a legislative mandate. The policy resulted in a compromise which strongly encourages board member training and outlines a framework.
Currently, two jurisdictions reference board member education – Montgomery County, Maryland (Montgomery County Code Chapter 10B) and the State of Florida (Florida Condominium Act 718.112(2)(d)(4) and Florida Homeowners Associations Act 720.3033). The State of Florida allows a board member to attest to reading and upholding association governing documents and policies and complying with their fiduciary responsibilities or take an approve course. Montgomery County, Maryland board members must take coursework prescribed by the County.
To read CAI’s final policy, click here.
Dawn Bauman, CAE
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