Community Association Governance

Tip O’Neill, longtime Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, coined the phrase “All politics is local.” He wasn’t speaking of community associations rights, but he could have been. There’s nothing more local and, therefore, more accountable than those elected by their neighbors to the governing boards of homeowner associations, condominiums and cooperatives.

Virtually every association-governed community has a governing board elected by homeowners in that community. While community managers and other professionals often provide critical support to associations, it is volunteers—elected by their neighbors—who ultimately are responsible for preserving the community, meeting the expectations of neighbors and protecting property values.

About two million homeowners serve on community association boards. Countless others serve on committees that oversee and support HOA architectural issues, financial issues, landscaping, swimming pools and so on. In all cases, their roles reflect the mission of CAI—fostering vibrant, responsible, competent and harmonious community associations.

With few exceptions, community association board members serve for altruistic reasons, and they serve with the best interests of their communities in mind, whether they are a full service HOA or a self managed HOA.

Community associations exist because they offer choices, lifestyles, services, amenities and efficiencies that people value, and the best of them offer a comforting sense of real community. Yet, with all their inherent advantages, associations face complicated issues, none more common than the challenge of balancing the best interests of the community as a whole with the preferences of individual residents. Managing this critical and delicate balance is the essence of association governance.

There are many issues facing the typical homeowner-governed association—financial pressures, insurance costs and the challenge of maintaining neighborhood aesthetics, to name only a few. In addition, many community associations deal regularly with conflicts involving what a resident may want to do and what established rules allow. For example:

  • A resident may want to build a large shed in his backyard in violation of the community’s established rules for permanent structures.
  • Another may want to deviate from the community’s established architectural guidelines, e.g., painting shutters bright red instead of the color options set forth in the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs).
  • Still another may neglect to pay community assessments, placing additional financial burdens on their dues-paying neighbors.

In all cases, we urge volunteer leaders and residents to be reasonable, flexible and open to the possibility—and potential benefits—of compromise and for community members to support your HOA management.

To find out more on how to properly deal with your community issues follow our once a month training by MGM Association Management for free at or call us at 208-846-9189.