Should the community set term limits for board members? While most associations have given up on the idea these days, some states do still allow for communities to amend their bylaws to limit the number of consecutive terms a board member can serve. What are the pros and cons of adopting term limits? Are term limits something that your HOA should consider adopting?
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Term Limits
The main advantage of term limits is that they are an effective measure against dictatorial board members who abuse their powers or let them go to their heads. Positions of power (even non-paying ones) often attract egotistical people, and long-serving board members can sometimes lose perspective and stop listening to the community’s demands, in the belief that they know better than everyone else. Term limits effectively solve the problem of tyrannical board members by automatically preventing them from holding office long enough to take over.
Unfortunately, term limits also come with some distinct disadvantages. While holding power for a long period of time can cause people to lose touch or suffer from an overinflated ego, experience also brings knowledge. If all, or a significant part, of the board is replaced every election, that means that every few years, the board will be filled with people who have little experience running the business of an HOA and who have no inside knowledge of past decisions. Allowing board members to keep their seats means that the board will be made up of people who are intimately familiar with the business of the community and won’t have to spend most of their term just learning how to do the job.
Alternatives to Term Limits
One way to lessen the impact of term limits is to increase the length of the terms board members serve. Most HOA’s have terms that last two years, which means that new board members spend most or all of their first term just getting a handle on the job. If the community does enact term limits, it may be wise to consider lengthening terms to four or six years.
Another option is to forgo term limits for board members, and instead set term limits for how long board members can hold officer positions. This allows experienced board members to keep their seats, while still taking measures to stop a few people from consolidating power and abusing their influence.
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