When it comes to voting at both annual and special meetings, HOA bylaws or state statutes usually require that the association obtain a quorum – a specified number or percentage of homeowners who are present to vote, either in person or by proxy. Bylaws also specify whether shareholders are permitted to vote by proxy, i.e. assigning another individual to cast their vote. Again, your property management company will have the knowledge and expertise to ensure you comply.
Many annual meetings are open, meaning anyone who is an owner can attend, but each community’s attendance rules and requirements are defined by its governing documents and state statutes. Typically, all shareholders can attend annual meetings, but as for others, like tenants, family members who reside at the property, potential homebuyers and proxies, it’s up to your bylaws and state to determine participation. In addition, homeowners’ legal guardians, trustees, personal representatives and those with power of attorney can attend and vote. But keep in mind that homeowner voting rights are not absolute – in certain circumstances, members can lose their voting rights.
What about vendors and other professionals, like attorneys? While they may be invited to attend specific meetings to provide information or make presentations to homeowners, they may be restricted otherwise. And it bears repeating – if you’re a homeowner, it’s highly beneficial to attend your community’s annual meeting – the best way to stay informed about association business, make your voice heard on issues you feel strongly about, and cast your vote for Board members, as well as bylaw amendments, special assessments and other key association issues. And even if you don’t attend and are therefore uninformed about new rules affecting your community, you’re still are responsible for following them.
The association is required to notify homeowners in advance of the meeting, providing complete information, including date, time and location – either mailed or displayed in a conspicuous location on the property. How notification must be given is explicitly stated in each association’s governing documents and state statutes. If your community is professionally managed, you can also ask your property management company for guidance.
Unlike annual meetings, which take place once a year to handle association business and major issues, special meetings may be called to handle specific concerns, suggestions or problems that arise between meetings – or those not typically addressed in routine Board or annual meetings. But special meetings must remain on point – only the issue stated in the meeting notice can be discussed. That means that if an issue arises that was not specifically stated in the notice, it’s not open for discussion at the special meeting.
Most association bylaws allow homeowners to call special meetings, and they spell out the criteria -- usually by creating a petition outlining the reason for the meeting, obtaining a certain number of signatures, and presenting the petition to the Board president or secretary. If the Board approves the request, a special meeting will be held to address this concern. Just like with annual meetings, special meetings require advance notice to all owners within a specified timeframe, but the timeframe may be different – as always, check your community’s governing documents and state statutes.
Annual meetings and special meetings are both necessary and integral parts of association management – and valuable ways to ensure smooth operations, enhance the lifestyle of homeowners and residents, and position your community for success, both now and in the future. For more information on annual and special meetings and how to ensure yours are effective, visit FirstService Residential.