By Ryan Newton
We have learned association meetings have changed over the last year. In 2020 we saw many Associations push back meetings in the hopes of being able to still meet in person at a later date. Most associations had to adapt due to local gathering restrictions and in-person meetings were not possible.
As time went on, many HOA’s started using online meeting platforms to allow “face to face” meetings. This has drastically changed the meeting landscape for associations with both positive and negative outcomes.
With the shift to a more technology-based platform for meetings, we probably won’t be seeing them go away, at least any time soon, even with gathering restrictions being lifted.
There are a lot of benefits to an online meeting format; owners from other locations can attend, trends show that meetings are shorter, managers/staff save time from commuting and have an improved work/life balance, and ownership attendance has increased, helping keep more people informed.
Like with everything, there are negative effects as well; relationships can be harder to foster, voting is more complicated, it is harder to ensure everyone has a chance to be heard, secret attendees (people that can’t be seen) and for some, an online style meeting is not feasible.
Regardless of the pros and cons, meeting format has changed, and it is important to establish clear guidelines on how meetings will be handled moving forward. Below is a list of items managers/boards should review while putting procedures in place for future meetings.
PLEASE NOTE: these are general suggestions and may not be applicable to your HOA. You may want to review with your HOA attorney before making any adjustments to meeting procedures.
Understand Meeting Requirements
Regardless of meeting in person or online, you cannot forget about your notice requirements for meetings. Be sure to review your governing documents and/or state statutes to ensure your notification requirements are met.
Understand State Law and Update Governing Documents
Work with your association manager or attorney to ensure your rules include the necessary information/changes to how meetings are handled. This could be a resolution or possibly introducing amendments. The purpose for this is not only to make it easy to comply, but also so owners have a clear understanding of how meetings will be handled moving forward. Your attorney can also help you understand what laws are currently in place and how they impact online meetings and how to structure open and closed portions of the meeting.
Create Meeting(s) Format
To help owners and board members understand what to expect, it is important to establish a clear format to the meeting so everyone involved has a chance to be heard. Here are some things to consider:
Annual Meetings and Voting
Annual Meetings are typically the most attended meeting by community members each year. With putting this meeting online, it can increase participation from owners, which for most associations, finally makes it feasible to meet quorum with just one meeting. Most Annual Meetings (and some other types of meetings) have a purpose of owners voting on items (budget, board members, etc.). Voting brings in another level of complexity to ensure it is easy and every owner has the ability to cast their vote.
The below items are ways in which you can prepare for Annual (and other) Meetings and how to vote. These are general items to be reviewed in conjunction with your governing documents and state statutes to ensure you are meeting your requirements.
While we work with hundreds of board members and thousands of residents, there will always be mixed feelings on how meetings are held moving forward. Every manager and board member knows, we cannot make everyone happy. It is our job to ensure we are providing them with information, options to participate in meetings, and following the guidelines specific to our communities to meet those tasks.