Your HOA meeting is just about to begin. A few homeowners trickle in. One of your board members is running 15 minutes late. You had an agenda in mind, but some people on the board disagree on the order of the agenda and who should present it. With a deep sigh, you reluctantly begin another disorganized meeting.
If this all-too-common scenario sounds familiar, read on. Scheduling and conducting an HOA meeting can be a complex task – a lot more complex than running a business meeting, in fact. That’s because HOA meetings can be personal. People who attend may or may not share a common objective.
There are many distinct factors that influence the success of an HOA meeting and how well both the community and its board members receive it. This article shares some best practices to keep in mind.
Establishing HOA meeting standards is an important first step. Implementing protocols surrounding where the meeting will take place, who can speak and how agenda items are introduced is critical to moving through a meeting efficiently. To avoid needless discussion about why Charlie’s Cocker Spaniel keeps doing his business on the Wilson’s yard, here are some important protocols to consider.
- Follow the governing documents. One of the most important protocols to implement is to follow governing documents of the HOA. Make sure to regularly reference your HOA’s bylaws and CC&Rs. Often, these governing documents will dictate where and how often you should hold meetings depending on the size of the HOA. In some cases, state law may dictate how you should conduct your meetings.
- Establish quorum. Quorum is the minimum number of members that need to be present to conduct HOA business. Without a quorum, your meeting won’t be recognized as effective. Depending on your HOA’s size and structure, you may dictate quorum by a percentage of members present or a specific number of members.
- Publish rules and follow them. Rules facilitate organized discussion and allow both board members and community members to discuss agenda items without interruption. Make sure to reiterate rules to all members before beginning your HOA meeting.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Many people expect HOA meeting management to be easy. Just follow the rules, dictate an agenda and allow members to be heard. After all, we’re all neighbors, right?
Sure, we are, but we’re all human as well. You would be surprised how quickly things can go wrong during a meeting. You might be even more surprised to find out how wrong things can go before or after the meeting takes place. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.
- Authority violations. As a board member, it is critical to understand the limits of authority given by the HOA’s governing documents and how they contrast with other governing bodies such as the state and town ordinances. Misrepresenting these documents can lead to a whole lot of trouble.
- Improper voting. In our increasingly digitized world, email/written voting has complicated participation from HOA community members. It’s important that rules set by the HOA are followed in the process of voting and that all community voices are heard to avoid improper votes.
- Architectural governance mistakes. One of the most common sources of HOA-related litigation is from architectural issues. As board members, it’s important to keep any architectural communication and decisions in alignment with the terms laid out in governing documents. Avoid selective enforcement and inappropriate conversations as noted below. This article on enforcing conformity is a great resource.
- Inappropriate conversations. In a housing community, HOA board members are also people who are neighbors with other homeowners. However, casual interactions can cause trouble if a board member discusses certain topics privately with other owners. As a board member, it's important to separate your roles and not discuss association business with other homeowners.
HOA Meeting Best Practices
Behind every pitfall to avoid is a best practice to implement into your next HOA meeting. These best practices may seem obvious, but they must be reiterated regularly as they are key to a successful, efficient meeting.
- Write an agenda and stick to it. Once an agenda is created, sticking to a timetable allows for all items to be discussed while also allowing time for open forum. Make sure to reference your HOA’s governing documents on how to schedule an agenda and rules on tabling agenda items if necessary.
- Designate a time for open discussion. Homeowner input allows the HOA to be built off the voices of the many in the community rather than the few. Encouraging members to submit questions beforehand may be an efficient way to make sure all concerns are addressed during the forum.
- Share the agenda ahead of time. Though most HOA governing documents and state laws require minutes to be taken, distributing the minutes to members is equally as important. Minutes should summarize all the items discussed during the meeting including important agenda items, action items and motions.
- Share meeting minutes after the meeting. Well-written, digestible notes are important to make sure all community members understand what was discussed and action items to keep in mind. It’s important to distribute notes to community members as well as your HOA governing documents and state law may require it.
SAMPLE MEETING MINUTES TEMPLATE
Sunnyside Homeowners Association
Wednesday 10/02/2022, 6:00 PM
Kennedy Conference Room
|Call to Order
|Proof of Quorum
|Reading and approval of August ‘22 meeting minutes
|Q3 financial report and discussion
|Miscellaneous Financial matters incl. outstanding balances from members & Habitat for Humanity fundraiser announcement
|Rules discussion, rule 3A amendment
|Community events in October:
- Sign up for Habitat for Humanity fundraiser by October 9th
- Sunnyside Haunted House needs 20 parent volunteers
- 2023 elections will be held during the November 2nd meeting. Deadline to run for a position is October 28th
- Next meeting date: November 10
- IF UNABLE TO ATTEND PLEASE COMPLETE THE PROXY - A neighbor or board member can vote your proxy