The only thing more diverse than common interest communities are the board members who run them. Board members differ in their experience, knowledge, and leadership methods. One thing they do have in common is that they feel that they can help to make their community better.

Diversity among board members is the secret sauce that helps to represent the best interest of the community. But these differences can also cause conflict among board members. When conflict and disagreements go unresolved, the progress of the HOA can come to a standstill. This deadlock can often be attributed to the problem board member. They are unwilling to compromise, or they simply love to play the antagonist. If you’ve tried to work with a problem board member you know who they are — but what is it that really makes them a problem? Here are a few things that problem board members do that can stifle the progress of the HOA.


Rule number one as a board member is that You must act in the best interest of the community. This means that board members must put their personal agendas aside and look at issues objectively. This can be difficult and often board member don’t even realize how much their personal interest is affecting their decisions. The problem board member is especially good at ignoring the best interest of the community and seeing every issue through the prism of what benefits them most.


Many board members seek to be on the board because they see a problem that they have the ability to solve. In many cases they’re right. But the problem board member is arrogant and domineering. Their arrogance makes them unwilling to listen to other ideas. Even worse, the know-it-all will rarely seek education or training — after all, what could they learn that they don’t already know. Right?


Change can be good, and sometimes it’s necessary to solve HOA problems, but a fickle board member will end up throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. It’s quite common to hear of a fickle board member immediately fire the landscape or other contractors shortly after being elected and without fully understanding the scope of the work, limitations, and history of around the issue. Over the months and years that follow, HOAs will often experience poor service, unhappy residents, and high contractor turnover, without seeing any significant savings.  Board members should weight all factors, remember change can be good but it can also be painful. Change should be well thought-out and researched before action is taken.


Many board members have never worked on a board prior to their HOA experience. In addition, many of them work in professions where they call the shots. In their daily work, they have no need for parliamentary procedure where debate and compromise are required. They make decisions and they get stuff done. This can be a great attribute to have, and most board members adapt just fine to working together as a board. On the other hand, the dictator will sidestep proper procedure and initiate action on their own.  If your HOA has a dictator board member, the other board members must be aware and involved enough to make sure proper procedures are followed. The dictator board member is only successful when accompanied by other complacent board members who allow it.

Remember, most board members do great work — and let’s face it it can be a pretty thankless job. But a problem board member can make the job of the other board member more difficult, open the HOA up to liability issues, and give the board a bad name. If you see the signs of a problem board member in your HOA, take action, get involved and make sure proper procedures are being followed.

Burke Nielsen

Burke Nielsen

Founder and Account Manager at GoGladly
Burke is Gladly's top industry expert. After 12 years in portfolio management, Burke founded an HOA management firm, and has drawn from that experience to offer insider-level understanding to Gladly. One of Burke's rare charms is that he actually loves listening to your problems. His more traditional hobbies include camping, 4-wheeling, and spending time with his wife and 5 terrific kids,especially when he gets to nag them about homework (nag the kids, not his wife).
Burke Nielsen

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