Call Now: (949) 421-3030


Confronting HOA Challenges: Overcoming 'The Incompetent' on Your Board

By: LS Carlson Law May 31st, 2024

The "Incompetent" Board Member

Welcome back to our "Personas" series, where we delve into the challenging personalities that often emerge within Homeowners' Associations (HOAs). In our previous discussion, we explored the disruptive nature of "The Meddler." Today, we shift our focus to another formidable figure: "The Incompetent."

Incompetent board members in an HOA are more than just challenging; their lack of understanding and expertise can profoundly destabilize both the harmony and operational integrity of the community. This blog post will detail the key characteristics of an incompetent board member and outline effective strategies for dealing with such individuals. Drawing from LS Carlson Law's experience in defending homeowners' rights in California and beyond, we provide essential insights for residents facing the daunting task of navigating HOA disputes with an incompetent leader at the helm.

In a Homeowners Association (HOA), the presence of an incompetent board member can significantly disrupt community dynamics and governance. Known as "The Incompetent," this type of board member typically lacks the understanding and expertise necessary to fulfill their role effectively. Unlike the tyrant who may seek power, the incompetent board member's shortcomings stem from ignorance and unpreparedness, often leading to substantial operational and legal challenges for the HOA.

This type of behavior not only undermines effective community management but also poses serious risks to the community's well-being. Incompetent board members may fail to comply with governing documents, such as the CC&Rs and bylaws, neglect fiduciary duties, and mismanage finances, which can result in delayed maintenance, increased costs, and legal disputes. Additionally, poor communication and resistance to learning can create an atmosphere of frustration and confusion among residents, further eroding trust in the board's ability to govern.

In the next section, we will delve deeper into the "Key Characteristics of an Incompetent Board Member" to better understand these behaviors and their impact on an HOA, outlining strategies to effectively address and mitigate these challenges.

Key Characteristics of an Incompetent Board Member:

Lack of Understanding of Governing Documents:

An incompetent board member often fails to comprehend the HOA's governing documents, such as the CC&Rs and bylaws. This lack of understanding can lead to poor decision-making and non-compliance with essential regulations. For instance, they may not realize the importance of following fiduciary responsibilities or adhering to the Davis-Stirling Act in California. This ignorance can result in decisions that are legally flawed and detrimental to the community's financial and operational health.

Poor Communication Skills:

Incompetent board members typically exhibit poor communication skills, which can manifest as ambiguous or incorrect responses to homeowner inquiries. This lack of clarity can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. For example, an incompetent board member might give incorrect information about rule compliance, leading to violations and subsequent fines for homeowners. The inability to communicate effectively undermines trust and cooperation within the community.

Financial Mismanagement:

Financial mismanagement is a common trait of incompetent board members. They may authorize vendor contracts without proper due diligence, resulting in overpayment for services. For example, hiring a landscaper at an exorbitant rate without obtaining multiple bids can strain the community's budget. This lack of financial oversight can lead to increased fees for homeowners and neglected maintenance projects, affecting the community's overall well-being and property values.

Resistance to Learning:

Incompetent board members often show a resistance to learning and improving their understanding of HOA governance. They might dismiss constructive feedback or refuse to educate themselves about the legal and operational aspects of their role. This resistance can perpetuate their incompetence, leading to ongoing issues and frustrations for homeowners. For instance, ignoring advice from the HOA attorney or management company can result in continued non-compliance with legal requirements and ineffective governance.

Neglect of Maintenance Responsibilities:

Neglecting maintenance responsibilities is another hallmark of incompetent board members. They may fail to address critical issues such as repairing common areas or managing community amenities. This negligence can lead to deteriorating infrastructure, safety hazards, and decreased property values. Homeowners may face increased costs for emergency repairs or suffer from a decline in the quality of life within the community.

Addressing the Challenges of Incompetent Board Members

Education and Training:

One of the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of incompetent board members is through education and training. Providing comprehensive onboarding sessions for new board members can equip them with the knowledge they need to fulfill their roles effectively. Ongoing training opportunities, such as workshops on HOA governance and legal requirements, can help board members stay informed and competent.

Clear Documentation and Communication:

Maintaining clear and accessible documentation is crucial. Homeowners should ensure that governing documents, meeting minutes, and financial reports are readily available and comprehensible. Effective communication channels, such as newsletters or community websites, can keep residents informed and engaged. Encouraging open dialogue and transparency can also help identify and address issues early on.

Engaging Professional Help:

In cases where incompetence significantly impacts the HOA's operations, engaging professional help may be necessary. This can include hiring a professional management company to handle day-to-day operations or consulting with a highly experienced HOA attorney to ensure compliance with legal requirements. These professionals can provide the guidance and oversight needed to steer the board in the right direction and protect the community's interests.

Mobilizing Community Support:

Homeowners can mobilize community support to address incompetence on the board. By organizing community meetings, circulating petitions, and fostering a culture of involvement, residents can collectively advocate for better governance. In severe cases, initiating a recall vote to remove an incompetent board member may be necessary to restore effective leadership.

Implementing Accountability Measures:

Implementing accountability measures can help prevent incompetence from undermining the HOA's governance. Establishing clear performance expectations, conducting regular evaluations, and enforcing consequences for non-compliance can ensure that board members take their responsibilities seriously. Creating a robust grievance process can also provide homeowners with a mechanism to address concerns and hold board members accountable.


Homeowners troubled by an incompetent board member in their HOA should not feel powerless. By understanding the legal options and rights available, and possibly engaging a highly experienced HOA attorney or lawyer from LS Carlson Law, residents can take significant steps towards restoring fairness and effective governance within their community. For homeowners in California and beyond, it is crucial to approach such situations with a well-planned strategy, supported by legal experience.

For further guidance and personalized advice, consider consulting with LS Carlson Law, where protecting homeowner rights against overreaching HOAs is our priority. Navigate these challenging waters with a highly experienced HOA attorney by your side and ensure that your community remains a fair and well-managed place to live.

Listen to the Podcast Episode

Watch/Listen to the Episode on Spotify: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/J4IiQsUe8Jb

Looking to End Your HOA Dispute?

Trust The Country’s Most Experienced HOA Attorneys

Tell Us About Your HOA Dispute

When you hire LS Carlson Law, you can be assured you’ll be getting an aggressive firm fully dedicated to achieving your legal objectives. Don’t take our word for it, we encourage you to take a look at the numerous five-star client reviews. Call us now or fill out the form to set an appointment.

CALL US NOW (949) 421-3030