Community association board meetings 101
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Check out our piece on how to run effective board meetings for additional tips.
Effective association board meetings are an integral part of running a successful community association. However, there are a lot of particulars to running these meetings that a new board member might not know about. Even seasoned board members may drop some of the association board meeting best practices over the years and require a refresher on how to run an effective meeting.
Types of association meetings
As a member of your association board of directors, knowing the different types of association meetings that can take place in a year is vital:
The annual meeting must be held once per year. At this meeting, new members are voted onto the association board. The notice for this meeting must be delivered to all owners no less than 10 and no more than 30 days ahead of the meeting.
For the purposes of voting on new association board members, a quorum must be met. Generally, to meet quorum at least 20% of the owners must be present.
To discuss the day-to-day management of the association, board meetings must be held at least four times a year. However, a regular board meeting is so imperative to effectively running the community it’s recommended that board meetings are held monthly.
A special meeting can be called by the board president or by certain per cent of either the board or owners dictated by your governing documents. 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.
Open vs. closed meetings
All meetings whether it be a regular board or special meeting must be open. That means owners can attend. However, this doesn’t mean they get to participate, they are there only to observe.
As a board, you can decide to include a comment period for the owners. This should happen at the beginning or end of the meeting and the owner should be given an allotted amount of time to speak.
It’s important to remember that this should not become a discussion. It's simply a time for the board to listen to the owners. 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.
A closed session is part of an open board meeting during which time the board discusses sensitive matters that specified by Illinois law without any owners present.
Items that can be addressed in a closed session include:
Pending or likely litigation by or against the association
The appointment, engagement or dismissal of any employee, independent contractor, or vendor
Interviewing a potential employee, independent contractor, or vendor
Violations of the association’s rules and regulations
An owner’s unpaid assessments
Consultation with the association’s legal counsel
The importance of meeting minutes
Looking after taking and maintaining the meeting minutes falls to the board secretary. Minutes for all meetings must be kept for seven years. A common misconception regarding meeting minutes is that 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 association board meetings best practices
Location, location, location
Association board meetings are business meetings. While there is certainly a social aspect of joining your association 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 other 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 hasn’t diminished due to the sheer convenience. Allowing board members and owners can join from the comfort of their own homes helps ensure you always meet quorum.
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.
If you’re holding board meetings less regularly than once a month and finding it hard to keep the meetings to 60 minutes, it might be time to considered increasing how often you meet.
Stick to the agenda
The agenda which is prepared ahead of time is the roadmap to the meeting. It should be included in the meeting notice, so no board member should be caught of guard or not prepared to discuss the topics set for the meeting. The key to keeping meetings running on time is sticking to the agenda and not let discussions go off the rails. The 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 community association board meetings
An association 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 association 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.