The Board is made up of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and six other members, including a representative from the management company. The purpose of the Board is to maintain the common area and see that the CC&Rs are upheld. This idea is spelled out in article one, page two of that document. The Board has a fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the association.
Once the developer has sold nearly all the units in a subdivision, the homeowners association is turned over to the homeowners who elect a Board of Directors. Although this process may appear to be democratic, the ties to democracy often prove to be illusionary. In associations where there are high levels of homeowner participation, problems are rare. But in many cases, the vast majority of homeowners become disinterested, and allow a small clique to dominate. In most instances, this will lead to incidents of misconduct. Numerous surveys* have shown that approximately 85% of homeowners are dissatisfied with their boards of directors. Because homeowner’s associations must rely on untrained, unregulated volunteers, who are essentially free from public and private (law suit) regulation, problems are practically guaranteed to occur.
Boards often engage in conflicts with homeowners and exercise enforcement powers that run contrary to common democratic conceptions of due process of law and separation of powers. The board makes up the rules, prosecutes suspected violators, and then judges the guilt or innocence of those involved.
Inexperienced board members often become the pawns of unscrupulous management companies who seek to increase profits (creating more work & raising fees) by encouraging conflicts between board members and homeowners.
When Boards take on an adversarial posture they will often try to stretch the limits of their influence beyond that granted them by the CC&Rs, and try to take control in areas which are not designated as requiring Board approval. This is often the result of a Board's insistence on interpreting and, in some cases, embellishing clauses in the CC&Rs, and manifests itself in the micro-management of homeowner's property.
These items are listed as requiring ACC approval in the Board's Improvement Request Form. They are not named in the CC&Rs.
Basketball goals (there is a 10 foot
rule in the CC&Rs)
Pools (above or below ground)
House and fence painting
Items that actually are listed in the CC&Rs as requiring ACC approval are, outbuildings, detached garages, storage buildings, gazebos, spas, greenhouses, children's playhouses, and architectural additions to the existing home.
In the past, disputes have arisen over aesthetic issues that are not listed in the CC&Rs as requiring Board approval.
When the houses in phase two of Shavano Ridge originally sold (app. 1993-94), homeowners were presented with an orientation letter from the Shavano Ridge Homeowner's association. The purpose of the letter was to familiarize new residents with twenty of the most frequently violated covenants; few of the common topics of conflict are listed among them.
Few new homebuyers are aware when they sign the CC&Rs that they have given up many of the rights they enjoy as American citizens. The CC&Rs make no provisions for democratic principals and the Board is not obligated to recognize them if they choose not to. For that reason, residents would be well advised to take a keen interest who they elect to the Board of Directors.
*Common Interest Communities: Private Governments and the Public Interest