HOA board meetings 101
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Check out our piece on how to run effective board meetings for additional tips.
Effective HOA board meetings are an important part of running a successful community association. However, there are a lot of intricacies to running these meetings that a new board member might not know about. Even seasoned board members may drop some of the HOA board meeting best practices over the years and require a refresher on how to run an effective meeting.
Types of association meetings
If you've recently become a member of your HOA board of directors, it's important to know the different types of association meetings that can take place in a year:
By law, the annual meeting must be held once per year. All homeowners are invited to attend this meeting and it's where the board turns over and new members are voted onto the association board. The notice for this meeting usually must be sent within a certain number of days of the meeting. Your board should review your governing documents to ensure you’re meeting the notice requirements outlined.
Notice is required to be hand delivered or sent by postal mail to the address of each owner. However, depending on the age of your community, local statutes, or your governing documents you may be allowed to send notices electronically. But make sure you’ve reviewed all important documents before you do so.
How often a board meeting takes place is typically dictated by your association's governing documents. They can happen as often as monthly, or on a quarterly basis, depending on what has been set in the governing documents.
Provide adequate notice for the meeting including when and where it will take place. This ensures all board members can attend and a quorum can be met, allowing HOA business to be conducted.
While it’s recommended that board meetings are open to members and an agenda is provided with the notice, each community and state have different requirements. For example. Kansas statutes require that owners receive notice to all meetings, and meetings must be open for them to attend. Board members need to familiarize themselves with the governing documents and local statutes to ensure their meetings are held in compliance with both.
A special meeting can be called by the board president or by certain per cent dictated by your bylaws of either the executive board or homeowners. These meetings are typically called if a specific topic needs to be discussed in between regular board meetings or if homeowners want to bring an issue to the board.
Like all meetings, notice for a special meeting needs to include when and where it will take place. Refer to your governing documents to determine how far in advance notice of the meeting needs to be provided.
Open vs. closed meetings
All meetings whether it be a regular board or special meeting must be open, meaning that homeowners can attend. This does not mean that get to participate, but they can observe the meeting.
As a board, you can decide to include a homeowner forum in a meeting that allows homeowners the opportunity to express something to the board. This should happen at the beginning or end of the meeting and the homeowner should be given an allotted amount of time to speak.
This should not become a discussion, it's simply a time for boards to listen to the homeowners. Should your board see the value in adding this to your meetings, set some parameters ahead of time to help keep the meeting on track.
An executive session is what would be considered a closed meeting and would directly follow a board meeting. These sessions are typically limited to very sensitive topics such as a legal matter or issues like how to deal with a highly delinquent homeowner. Your property management team can provide further guidance on what can and can't be discussed in these sessions.
The importance of meeting minutes
The board secretary is typically the board member that looks after taking the meeting minutes. There is a common misconception regarding meeting minutes where the board believes they have to be very detailed, and everything said in the meeting needs to be transcribed. This is not the case. The meeting minutes simply need to be a generic overview of the discussions that took place and the outcome of votes.
How meeting minutes are shared with the community depends on the association and you should confirm with your property management company if they have specific protocols. Typically meeting minutes are shared on the community’s web portal, but they can also be sent to residents via e-blast.
Additional HOA board meetings best practices
Location, location, location
It's important to remember, HOA board meetings are business meetings. While there is certainly a social aspect of joining your HOA board, it's important to keep the socialization and board business separate. Board meetings should be held in a location that would be considered appropriate for any other kind of business meeting, not a busy public setting where noise and activities can distract from the task at hand.
Virtual meetings are here to stay
Virtual meetings gained popularity during the pandemic because it was the only option. Since then, their popularity continues due to the sheer convenience. Board members and homeowners can join from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual meetings are also immensely helpful for your property manager who can also join from home and no longer has to spend the additional time traveling to your association after a full day of work.
The ideal meeting length
It's strongly recommended that HOA board meetings last no longer than 90 minutes. Anything longer than that and participants start to lose interest. At FirstService Residential, we recommend keeping meetings to just 60 minutes. It's important to remember these meetings are most often taking place in the evening when some board members have already worked a full day.
Stick to the agenda
The meeting agenda is prepared ahead of time by the HOA president and property manager. As it's included in the meeting notice, no board member should be caught off guard or not prepared to discuss the topics set for the meeting. To keep meetings running on time, it's important to stick to the agenda and not let discussions go off the rails. The HOA board president should be prepared to intervene when discussions get off topic or perhaps a bit heated between other board members.
Keep best practices in mind to run effective HOA board meetings
An HOA board meeting shouldn't be something board members’ dread. If you keep best practices in mind, have a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting, running effective HOA board meetings should become second nature.
For new board members who may not be as well versed in the board meeting process, a training session can go a long way. For more information on the board education sessions, we offer our boards, contact us today.