HOA board meetings can dictate the pace of your community management. Knowing how to run an HOA board meeting, and run it well, can make such a huge impact on your HOA decisions. So, take the time and prep up your HOA board meeting agenda with care. Having a productive HOA board meeting can really set the tone for the rest of your association projects. In this guide, we’ll look at some tips for the right HOA board meeting protocol.
HOW TO FOLLOW CORRECT HOA BOARD MEETING PROTOCOL
What’s the secret to successful HOA board meetings? Is it the venue? Should you spend more time doing meetings? A good venue and enough time to hold the meeting certainly helps. But, the secret to smooth, effective HOA board meetings is following the proper procedures.
That is, you need to spend time preparing for HOA board meetings. So, you can save time during the meeting itself. Odd how that works, yes? But, when it comes down to it, successful HOA board meetings are not necessarily the ones that go on for hours. Oftentimes, it’s in the shorter HOA board meetings that the decisive votes are cast.
When you dedicate time to careful board meeting preparation, the benefits can really add up. Your homeowners association board members, who in most cases are volunteers that donate their time to the cause, will certainly appreciate it. By having short, successful HOA board meetings, you’re showing them that you care about their time.
Being prepared means less time fumbling about finding the information you need. It also gives each member more time to voice out their opinions. That’s how being organized leads to snappier decisions, to the appreciation of everyone who attends.
Here are some tips on how to run a homeowners association meeting successfully:
1. FOLLOW YOUR GOVERNING DOCUMENTS
Perhaps the most important HOA board meeting protocol is to follow your governing documents to the letter. Your bylaws and CC&Rs will tell you how many board meetings you need to hold and how often you need to hold them. Sometimes, state laws will also come into play.
Typically, smaller associations don’t need to meet as frequently as larger ones. Boards for small HOAs might get away with only holding meetings on a quarterly basis. In contrast, large HOAs may need to meet on a monthly basis.
2. ESTABLISH A QUORUM
A quorum is the minimum number of members required to be present at a meeting to conduct association business. It’s an important pre-requisite, the absence of which can render your meeting ineffective and futile.
The HOA meeting requirements for a quorum can vary from association to association. Some HOAs need a percentage of the membership, while others require a specific number of members. Make sure to check your governing documents to know your quorum requirements.
3. STUDY YOUR AGENDA, THEN ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE
Even if you are not presenting during the meeting, preparation is a normal part of HOA board meeting protocol. A well-organized agenda is a key to having successful HOA board meetings. Having a meeting agenda that’s well put together is right up there with attendance in terms of importance.
Without attendance quorum, the group can’t take decisive action. And without an organized agenda, the group wastes time and energy getting to the voting points as well.
So put together the agenda for the next meeting, and study it. First, make sure it’s complete. The list of items that should go into your agenda should be mentioned in the governing documents for your HOA. Your state laws may have a say on it as well. So, it’s never a bad idea to check them first for any updates that may come up.
Do you have all the old business to be taken up? How about the new business – preferably listed in order of priority? Committee reports need to be added in as well, and you need to make sure you get every report. It helps to have a review of the action items from the previous meeting as well, just to keep everyone on the same page.
Then, make sure to cover the important presentations. There’s a report from the treasurer on the financials over the past month or quarter. Any new contracts with vendors? Make sure to go over them as well. Let’s not forget the open forum for homeowners, too.
4. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND TO THE POINT
So now you’ve got an exhaustive list of every issue that can be brought up. You’ve now made sure that you haven’t missed anything. So, now’s the time to prioritize. Keep the agenda brief, and focused on the most urgent items, if possible. A short but relevant list of agenda items will keep the group focused on the important issues.
It helps to orient your agenda towards the people actually attending the meeting. Is it a board of directors meeting? Then you’ll need to prioritize items that will call for a vote. Check your HOA bylaws if it has a set of guidelines for agenda items. More often than not, some of your agenda items should be handled another time.
How simple and short should your meeting be? For your typical number of HOA board members, aim for an hour. Larger groups may need a slightly longer running time, so consider ninety (90) minutes for them, with thirty (30) minutes for your executive session.
5. MAKE AN AGENDA SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT
You have studied your agenda items, right? Then you have a good idea of the time budget you need to allocate for each of them. Time management is key to successful HOA board meetings, so don’t hesitate to stick to your guns. If it’s an item with 10 minutes allocated to it, then 10 minutes is what it should get. If you’re involved in the discussion itself, then have someone keep time for you.
Your HOA guidelines should provide you with options on how to table an agenda item if the group cannot wrap it up. Be familiar with those, and use them judiciously. Just make sure that everyone knows the agenda schedule as well. So, that way, everyone is on the same pace as the meeting proceeds.
If your agenda includes an open forum for HOA homeowners, make sure to carefully limit their speaking time as well. It’s likely that your HOA members have more things to say than you have time for. So, to make sure that you get the opinions from everyone, have them submit their questions before the forum. It will help your HOA board save time by having answers ready, so they can address these questions in a timely manner.
6. KEEP REMINDING EVERYONE ABOUT HOA BOARD MEETING RULES
Board meetings are all about organized discussion, and HOA meeting rules establish that. So, remember that not everyone may not be as familiar with them as you are. Take the time to go over the rules every now and then. It will help save you trouble later on.
Make sure to neatly wrap up the meeting, too, by providing a short overview of the discussion. So, try to make time after the meeting to review action items, especially the ones you have just voted on. A bit of extra effort now to keep everyone on the same page will save your board from possible disagreements later on.
7. REMEMBER TO TAKE MINUTES
Most state laws and governing documents require board members to take minutes of the meeting. These HOA board meeting minutes are then made available to all homeowners. Though, minutes of the executive session must remain private.
When should HOA meeting minutes be distributed? It depends on what your governing documents and state laws have to say about it. In California, for one, board meeting minutes must be available to all members within 30 days of the meeting.
Some HOA boards choose to record meetings and then transcribe them later on. Of course, this raises the question, “Is it legal to record an HOA meeting?” Board members can decide to record meetings and prohibit other members from doing so.
If you intend to record a board meeting, though, make sure everyone knows about it. It’s also a good idea to destroy the recording after transcribing the minutes. This way, you can avoid any potential liability as a result of the recording’s existence.
What should be included in HOA board minutes? Your meeting minutes should include agenda items, discussions, actions, and motions that were taken. Refrain from including personal comments or opinions. The minutes also don’t need to include discussions verbatim. It’s not a script.
UNDERSTANDING OPEN BOARD MEETINGS AND EXECUTIVE SESSIONS
Can HOA board members meet in private? Board meetings are typically held in open sessions, with members invited to attend. But, board members can also meet in private sessions, called executive sessions, to discuss confidential topics such as legal issues, personnel issues, and disciplinary items. Such sessions take place either before or after the open session.
MAKE SUCCESSFUL HOA BOARD MEETINGS A ROUTINE
Successful meetings can be the norm and not the exception provided you follow proper HOA board meeting protocol. A bit of extra work now in preparing and timing your agenda items will save you a lot of effort later on. More importantly, it will make sure that your HOA board can decisively act on action items as a cohesive team. Now that’s the secret for a successful association.
Running board meetings is usually the HOA president’s job, but everyone needs a little help sometimes. If you’re having trouble managing meetings and other tasks, perhaps it is time to hire an HOA management company.