It is common knowledge that attending an HOA meeting is not necessarily the most popular way to spend an evening. But owners make a big investment in their property, and attending meetings is a important. We encourage all owners to be part of the community that is an HOA – and want to help you make the most of that experience.
Here are some HOA meeting best practices (and a few things to avoid):
The Board members of the HOA are volunteers and neighbors. The Board hires the management company, the management company advises and acts on the Board’s action-list. Home-owners may be frustrated with the HOA or management company, and there’s time to talk about that. Issues like this are listed on the Agenda (Homeowner Forum). However it is important to remember that the Board is following their “fiduciary duty” – using the care that an ordinarily prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances.
Budgets have their own specific meetings, often around the Annual Meeting. Annual Meetings are time for any line-by-line financial analysis, kind of like when home-owners look at their budget each year and see what vacations they can take (China? Vancouver? Breckenridge?). The annual meeting is also when home-owners vote to adopt the budget. Each month after that, any financial flags can be examined. If you feel you are spending too much time on one item, remember: course-corrections can be addressed at a monthly meeting.
Only home-owners or their proxies may attend. A “proxy” is essentially document that says “Hey, I can’t be there, so Donna is going to vote on my behalf, in my interest.” Third parties such as contractors are not allowed to come without prior arrangement. “Jeanie the landscaper” or “Jimmy the interior designer” can contact the manager or board pre-meeting to ask for time on the Agenda for their sales pitch. The Agenda is the topic list of the meeting and it shows the Board and manager respect home-owner time. Contractors may be given time, then discussion and any votes may happen. Gossip, off-topic conversations and cocktails are part of any after-meeting gathering but have no place during the formal meeting for obvious reasons.
We want to help empower owners and the board to run effective, orderly meetings where HOA business is completed and everyone feels heard. CAP Management can train Board members and/or home-owners to this end. Part of this involves learning Roberts Rules or parliamentary procedure, as well as each board member’s role. Because tensions can run high, we include education on how to listen and to deal with difficult emotions in a constructive way. Last, we want to help you become experts of HOA financials, from the budget to the balance sheet and income statement, so you don’t have to rely on the manager to interpret the numbers.
A few other best practices are simply common courtesies: Boards should stick to the agenda out of respect for everyone’s time. Despite tensions, the best HOAs keep it civil and be kind – after all, the board are just volunteer owners.
7 worst ideas for a monthly HOA Board Meeting
- Involving alcohol
- Allowing an environment for gossip.
- A gathering of friends to discuss their latest vacation or political developments.
- Personal owner disputes which do not pertain to HOA rules and regulations.
- Putting the annual budget through a fine-tooth comb – there is a time a place for it but not every meeting
- Inviting non-owners to attend
- Inviting landscapers, roofers, plumbers, or friends/family who are contractors.
By Ben Tryon