Productive HOA meetings are the foundation of a successful homeowners association. HOAs that treat the gatherings as a business meeting will have shorter, more effective meetings. As a property management company, we have observed a number of methods, or processes, that the best homes associations use, and we’d like to share those with you.
Every HOA meeting should be built on a foundation of careful preparation. That preparation should be captured for all participants via the official agenda. A thoughtful agenda allows board members and other participants to prepare beforehand and allows the meeting planners to budget time for each component of the meeting. Most people appreciate meetings that start on time, cover key topics and end on time. One hour is the usual rule of thumb for the length of meetings. Having a brief, scheduled break in a meeting lasting longer can keep participants focused, fresh and productive.
Parliamentary procedure has been a standard, meeting practice for centuries. They provide order, civility, fairness, certainty and procedures for conducting a meeting. Most people that have served on boards expect the rules. That doesn’t mean you have to be overly formal or memorize Robert’s Rules of Order. The HOA president should have an understanding of the basic parliamentary rules, not necessarily knowing every rule or procedure. Following the basic rules saves time, and allows people to participate and express their views.
A quorum is the minimum number of members who must be present at a meeting to transact business on behalf of the organization. The number of people required is usually specified in the HOA’s bylaws. The requirement protects the HOA by preventing a very small number of people from taking action on behalf of the entire HOA. Generally speaking, no motions or votes should occur unless there is a quorum. The presiding officer typically calls the meeting to order once there is an established quorum. It’s best to start the meeting on time, or as soon as the quorum is present.
Approval of Minutes
The first item after the call to order is usually to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. They normally are provided beforehand and to do not necessarily have to be read out loud. Minutes are the official record of the actions taken by the HOA and should not be taken lightly. All motions made at a meeting should be entered into the minutes – whether or not they were approved. Major decisions are recorded in them and they become part of the legal record of the association.
Financial statements should also be distributed to the board in advance. The treasurer should report on the financial statements at the meeting, noting account balances, income and expenditures. Unique transactions or significant changes should be brought to the attention of the attendees and explained. After any questions are asked and answered, the presiding officer can move on to the next item on the agenda. Notably, the attendees do not usually approve, or disapprove, the financial statements.
President ’s reports
The president, and/or the property manager, is often allotted the bulk of the meeting time to present important information to the attendees. Numerous motions may be voted on during this time. Providing information on significant topics beforehand gives the attendees time to review and consider before any vote is taken.
Committees are usually represented in meetings, but do not necessarily give reports at each meeting. Committees benefit the HOA by gathering important information, making policy recommendations and suggesting solutions to HOA problems. Typical committees for HOAs might include: financial, architectural, landscape and social committees.
A target time for adjournment should be listed on the agenda. It is the presider’s task to keep the meeting moving forward and to adjourn the meeting on time. Attendees will appreciate ending a meeting on time, even if it means that not all items are covered.
Serving your HOA as a board or committee member can be very enjoyable and rewarding. Following best practices in conducting your meetings can enhance the productivity of the HOA and the personal fulfillment of the participants.
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The Tiehen Group has been providing professional property management services for homeowners associations and condominium associations in the Kansas City area for more than 20 years. We enjoy sharing our knowledge and perspective with interested people and organizations. Contact us today if you like to discuss productive HOA meetings or other HOA matters.