This site has been created to allow those living in and serving community associations to participate in developing a legislative solution to the long-term conundrum: How to increase competence of volunteer Community Association directors to prevent mistakes and disasters without discouraging involvement.
Community association directors can profoundly affect the value of your home and living environment. Damage to communities from lapses in oversight by well-meaning but untrained volunteers has spawned copius legislation to regulate homeowners associations. So why haven't HOA directors been required to be trained or licensed?
Serving as a volunteer on a community association board can be a thankless job, requiring many hours each month, taking valued time from families and time to recover from stress of work and other household and civic activities. Recruiting volunteers can be difficult enough without imposing added burden, which may only discourage potential volunteers.
The conundrum of requiring competence vs. ability to recruit willing directors, albeit underinformed, has long plagued community associations. Whereas amazing organizations — such as CAI (Community Associations Institute) and ECHO (Educational Community for HOA Homeowners) — have created a wealth of educational resources for volunteer directors, education remains elective and undersubscribed. And detrimental consequences will continue.
Since the 1980's, legislators have limited themselves to the toolbox they've been familiar with. Much-needed legislation has passed but often reflects inattention to the special environment unique to community associations.
Both non-profit and for-profit businesses online have successfully amassed armies of unpaid volunteers that provide substantial value-added. Proven effective strategies have emerged with substantial potential for improving community association governance as well. (See discussion in proposal.) So why haven't legislators taken notice? Why haven't such tools been applied?
I offer this draft plan for public review, to be scrutinized, criticized and prodded into shape — by you. Because integrating ideas from a spectrum of backgrounds will produce a superior result.
Perhaps we're breaking new ground doing this; whoever heard of crowd-sourced legislation?
You can help to shape this program before we take it to our friends in the legislature to help bring it into realization.
Below I'll describe the current state of the program as drafted. I have placed a description of its components into a GitHub respository, making it easy for anyone to examine and suggest edits, though you don't have to use GitHub to participate. (Git is a means for version control created by Linus Torvalds in 2005 for software development. It was so effective for software, it has since been used by writers for complex projects involving multiple contributors, where the need to track changes is essential.)
Of course, you can contribute ideas, comments and suggested changes without using GitHub simply by using e-mail or the forum. But if you're comfortable using GitHub, you will have full access to all files resources to expedite development; this is of particularly value if you are an attorney willing to help draft legislation. (I'm not an attorney and while I've made a lay effort to adapt existing legislation for this, I'm sure it must seem pretty pathetic to an attorney experienced with crafting legislation. Please help(!) by helping to draft legislation to bring this program to reality.
While this program originally was created with the California legislature in mind, community association professionals, directors, members and legislators in any state can participate here in crafting a program that can be adapted for any state. (If your state requires an adjustment to accommodate a particularly law, just label your changes particular to that state.)
The program would not be compulsory. Community associations may continue to operate as they have without fear of a requirement that might discourage prospective volunteers. However, for those associations that encourage their directors to become certified, benefits await...
Although language in the examples is for "California," there is no reason a program like this couldn't be adopted by any state.
The legislature would pass a bill (see legislation draft) establishing a board to administer the plan described herein. The authority may be called, for example, Board of Certification for Community Association Directors (BCCAD).
The bill would include standards for an educational program known as, for example, the ‘COMPETENCE’ training program, an acronym for Community Oversight and Management Principles Education To Engender Community Excellence. (This acronym also complements the preferred means of attaining certification — through the Competency Based Education method. See the US Department of Education explanation of this method.)
The legislation would authorize the authority to set standards for and administer tests and grant certifications to members of common interest developments who meet standards of knowledge of best practices and basic legal requirements for governance of state community associations.
The board would work with educational organizations such as CAI (Community Associations Institute) and ECHO (Educational Community for HOA Homeowners) to facilitate training and continuing education to prepare for and maintain the certification credential.
Election materials would identify any certified candidate with an asterisk, with a footnoted explanation, raising awareness of the value of the credential.
The BCCAD would maintain a community association rating system wherein ratings are derived principally by the proportion of communities' directors certified under this program, whether a reserves study has been conducted within the past four years, how well reserves have been funded, willingness to maintain continuing education and certifications, and their willingness to maintain relationships with legal and community association management professionals.
Director certifications as well as community ratings would be accessible online and a community rating certificate may be downloadable at any time.
Community associations would be required to disclose their ratings to members annually.
Insurance companies have the power to make this work. They are rewarded when they insure communities with high ratings whose directors have undergone training on best practices, legal requirements and risk management. Insurance may be one of the largest budget items affecting monthly dues. Actuarially-adjusted premiums can be a potent incentive.
Ratings also may be used by real estate firms when marketing and promoting properties within communities and by vendors who may choose to offer discounts or special terms for community associations that maintain a certain rating.
Community boards and members may take special pride in maintaining high ratings as other benefits also await.