Committees in Associations: Sharing the Workload   Leave a comment

Committees are fairly common in community associations and help to spread out the burdens of community tasks to more volunteers. With the limitations on the time of the volunteers already serving the community, plus the opportunity to get other residents invested in the community, committees can do even more than merely ensure that someone is watching over the pool and there’s someone to greet new neighbors when they move in. However, sometimes little thought is given to the formation of committees beyond identifying the need to get a task done.

Unfortunately, as a lawyer, I am often called upon to assist “after the horse is out of the barn” to rein in a, supposedly, wayward committee. Many times, in these situations there was either a miscommunication over the expectations for what the committee was intended (and authorized) to do or an enterprising committee member choose to take their job to the next logical step. Sometimes this happens as the committee or its members suspect that a board will not take the steps that the committee believes are necessary.

Regardless of the reasons, in many of these instances the problem of authority could have been resolved in the beginning.

Generally, the by-laws for a community association will permit the creation of committees. The by-laws will likely go on to state that members of the committees serve at the discretion of the board of directors, who can appoint and remove committee members at will. Besides that, there is often precious little additional guidance.

The first step to forming a committee is to determine exactly what you want the committee to do and how long you want the committee to last. In figuring this out, you must go beyond merely stating that you are forming a committee to “take care of the pool” or “for social events.”

Consider the actual tasks that the committee will need to perform, decide if they will only report back to the board, if they will report to the board on a routine basis while performing other tasks, or something similar. Establish whether the committee will have the right to get bids for services for the association. Will they also have the right to enter into contracts? Should they meet routinely? How many people should be on the committee?

Setting parameters for the tasks that the committee is authorized to perform can significantly help to prevent major miscommunications later on. Of course, having a community association attorney assist with drafting the resolution creating a committee is also very helpful, as you can get the benefit of the attorney’s experiences in other communities with similar committees.

By: Amy H. Bray, a partner in the Commercial Real Estate department.


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