Running an effective condominium board meeting or a homeowners association (HOA) board meeting can be a daunting task, particularly when controversial issues are on the agenda. While many HOA and condo boards are relatively small and tend to operate informally, it is still important to have established rules and procedures. Even more so, it is important to follow them.
Below are several tips for improving the effectiveness of your HOA or condo association board meeting:
Be Transparent: All meetings should be open to the full board, as well as unit owners. The board should also provide adequate notice of the meeting in accordance with the applicable bylaws or other governing documents. While it may sometimes be more convenient, board members should resist the temptation to conduct board business informally or through private meetings. If such meetings don’t comply with the legal requirements for notice or quorums, any decisions made may be subject to legal challenges and could be overturned.
Stick to the Agenda: One of the keys to a successful board meeting is a good agenda. A carefully crafted agenda is essential because it not only serves as a roadmap for the meeting, but it can be used to bring the discussion back to the main issues should it veer off track. The agenda should be drafted and disseminated in advance of the meeting, allowing enough time for board members to review it and request changes or additions. Agendas typically take an outline form, although the level of detail may vary based on the issues to be discussed.
Follow Procedures: All boards should have established procedures that govern their meetings. Many corporate boards follow a manual of parliamentary procedure, entitled Robert's Rules of Order. Because the abridged version is still more than 700 pages long, the rules can prove impractical to implement in their entirety. Instead, many boards adopt a relaxed version of Robert’s Rules that includes the basic concepts but eliminates the strictest procedural requirements. Once the rules of procedure are established, creating a “cheat sheet” of the most important concepts for all board members can be an effective way to get everyone on the same page and prevent the arduous task of looking up procedural rules during the meeting.
Keep Records: Meeting minutes serve as an official and legal record of the meeting and should be taken at every meeting. While the format of the minutes may vary, they should list every motion considered by the board, along with the board members voting in favor, against, or abstaining, and whether the motion was approved or denied. In cases where the board believes that a decision may be subject to scrutiny or legal claims, it is advisable for the board to enact a resolution that describes all of the facts and circumstances, any legal or other professional advice obtained in connection with the decision, and the reasoning behind the board’s ultimate decision.
Encourage Participation: In many cases, HOAs and condo associations are dominated by a few individuals, which can leave other board members and unit owners feeling alienated and frustrated. While the chair of the board is responsible for facilitating an orderly meeting, board deliberations should be free and open, and each board member should have equal opportunity to speak in turn. Unit owners should be also encouraged to participate in board meetings and have a dedicated forum to voice their concerns.
Keep Emotions in Check: Because people’s property is involved, HOA and condo board meetings can sometimes become contentious. When this occurs, it is important to focus on the issues rather than the emotions associated with them. Of course, it is also imperative to listen to everyone who seeks to be heard and always be respectful.
For help improving the effectiveness of your HOA or condo association board meetings, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Commercial Real Estate Group. Our attorneys have a wealth of experiencing advising HOAs and condo associations of all sizes.
If you have questions, please contact us
If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Chris Dzwilewski, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.