Ask The HOA Expert

Ask The HOA Expert

Ask The HOA Expert
by Richard Thompson

Question: At our recent annual meeting, an issue was brought up and a motion was made on something that was not on the agenda for the meeting. The president allowed the motion to be made, seconded and voted on. There was not a sufficient amount of homeowners at the meeting to constitute a quorum. The homeowners not present had no idea this was being voted on or even brought. Was this a legal vote?

Answer: The vote was illegal both due to lack of quorum and failure to notify other members in advance. All that is needed now is for a notice to go out informing all members of the “confusion” which led to an illegal vote which has now been rescinded. If the rowdies don’t like it, tough. There is a right and a wrong way to do things. Just because the board president made a mistake doesn’t legitimize the vote.

Question: We have several volunteers that want to perform selected HOA maintenance like changing light bulbs and painting curbs to save us all money. Is this OK?

Answer: While volunteer efforts are appreciated, it may turn out to be unreliable or have quality control problems. In other words, you may get what you pay for. Doing minor repairs is okay. Just stay off the roofs, out of the trees and leave skilled labor jobs to the skilled labor.

Question: One of our owners was outraged that the board meets for thirty minutes in private prior to allowing homeowners into the meeting. Typically, the board talks about collection issues. This information is summarized in the minutes without names or addresses and posted in the community mail room for everyone to review. This owner was livid that the board would not discuss collections in the open meeting citing the Freedom of Information Act.

Answer: It is appropriate for the board to meet in executive session to discuss sensitive topics like collections, contract negotiations, litigation and employment issues. General financial matters should, however, be discussed openly in the board meeting. Even collections can be discussed in a board meeting if no names or unit numbers are mentioned.

The Freedom of Information Act allows the public access to information held by the federal government so does not apply to homeowner associations. But as a general rule, board meetings should be open to the members. This means that they should be noticed well in advance and held in a visitor friendly venue. Closed door meetings always breed suspicion. Tread carefully on the use of executive sessions.