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Can we ask questions before the condo association board meeting?

Posted on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 @ 09:53 AM
Our COA Board president has recently allowed owners to attend Board meetings, which are held monthly. It's allowed by our By-Laws. She is refusing to allow anyone in the audience, after the meeting is over, to make comments or ask questions about what they've just heard discussed by the Board. She says we can only advise her in advance of the meeting what we want to discuss. This seems unrealistic and unfair to the owners. We don't disrupt the meeting as it's going on, but sit patiently and wait till it's over before anyone has ever asked to be recognized to make a comment or ask as question. Are we being unreasonable not to want to have to wait another month to ask our question, when the Board could set aside a mere 10-15 minutes after a meeting to allow for a quick Q&A?

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You are permitted to attend those meetings. You participation is subject to the rules established regarding you being at the meeting. If no rules apply, then you should have every right to speak. Keep in mind, its your association, you are an owner, you share an equal part in ownership, thereby the association, and have a right to speak IN AN ORDERLY FASHION. The Board has a right to dismiss anyone out of order.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 10:23 AM by David Weiner

If there are no open meeting laws in your state and your bylaws do not address this then the board can make whatever rules they like regarding their meetings. I live in AZ where there is an open meeting law which states members have a right to attend all meetings of the assn and also have a right to speak before the board takes action on an agenda item. If your state does not have open meeting laws you may want to lobby the legislature. IMO, there is no reason why the members of an HOA should not be able to question the board members regarding their actions.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 10:35 AM by mary

Your Chairwoman is completely wrong. Her edict not only does not make any sense it violates the basic prinicples Robert's Rules or Order. The Board must be rersponsive to the uinit owners-or the council of unit owners-and those individuasls have every right to question any action taken by the board. If yopu do not take action to challenge this ruling you'll eventually allow for the Chair to establish a virtual dictatorship and this development will be much more difficult to deal with.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 11:12 AM by Scott

Questions such as this deeply disturb me. Why would a board member try so hard to discourage participation in matters affecting the community? I cannot grasp the logic of such action. IMHO, the function of ANY HOA board is to foster a sense of community. We are all neighbors who want a great place to live and a well run property. Every decision the board makes should be with this goal in mind. 
As my HOA's treasurer, I publish all financial information at least seven days prior to a meeting so that there is time to study the materials and ask me questions prior to the meeting. I then send everyone an email one day prior to the meeting in which I publish all questions asked (rarely more than two) and my answers. Most people don't want to highlight their lack of knowledge of financial statements (most of my neighbors are creative types, so numbers are not their "long suits") in an open forum, so they can ask their questions one-on-one and have them published anonymously. 
Far too many questions posted on this forum deal with technicalities of following and applying rules rather than asking ourselves how do we promote a sense of community?

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 11:14 AM by Larry Davis

Everyone, Members as well as Directors, has a right to talk. Roberts says that Members may speak on every topic in turn; and then if they have more to say that they must be called again after everyone else has spoken. This can go on until everyone is satisfied that all that has to be said has been said, or until a motion to end discussion passes.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 11:47 AM by lenny lambert

Depends on your State Laws, & your By-Laws. One must remember the meeting of the Board is just that, A BOARD meeting, not a social event, not an owners meeting. The Board meets to conduct OFFICIAL BUSINESS of the Board, a legal CORPORATE entity and conducts it's meetings accordingly. 
HOWEVER, the Board should conduct its meetings with the best interests of the OWNERS in mind and in an open forum. In Florida, it's the Law to allow owners participation. Owners must also remember that the Board MUST conduct its business in accordance with the published agenda. No other topics are to be discussed if not on the agenda. Owners can submit their requests to the Board to place items on the agenda, and they are subject to the Boards Presidents approval. I suggest request be put in writing and request a response. 
In my meetings, I bring the question to the floor and look for a second, then the matter is subject for discussion by the Board, once discussed, we open the question to the floor prior to our vote. In this manner, we can get many different points of view that the Board may not have considered. If the matter is in general agreement, then we vote. If the matter is subject for further review, we table the issue for another time and MAY form a committee to gather a consensus and take the subject up again. 
In matters concerning emergency, the Board will act decisively. The good of us all is paramount. Other issue may require owners voting, but that's another issue. 
I feel that without my neighbors input, the Board may not have all the fact. As Larry Davis stated - "I cannot grasp the logic of such action. IMHO, the function of ANY HOA board is to foster a sense of community. We are all neighbors who want a great place to live and a well run property. Every decision the board makes should be with this goal in mind. " I whole heartedly agree.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 12:13 PM by cebo

Would you like to search the Internet for "Civil Code sec. 1363.840" if you are in California?

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 12:50 PM by BETP Inc.

She is dead wrong. You most certainly have the right to make comments. I would challenge that. What is this about her recently 'allowing' you to attend Board meetings? Does that mean owners were not allowed to attend Board meetings prior?Members 'always' have the right to attend Board meetings. Boards can have Executive meetings, which are private, usually dealing with legal matters. They are usually held just before the regular meeting. Even if she is attempting to use Roberts Rules, she got it wrong. Roberts allows people to make comments at the end of a meeting. The Board simply cannot act on them at that time.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 1:17 PM by Jackie

I took over our Board presidency last August and never before had our community been made aware of monthly board meetings. We now ask and encourage our owners to join us. Owner involvement is KEY to our success. The only thing we ask is to have prior notice of any specific topics (new business) they wish formally addressed by the board during a meeting. This allows for the board to schedule them as part of the agenda and make sure there is time to properly discuss their specific topic. The only time we ask to owners to excuse themselves is when we are discussing sensitive/private financial information with regard to an owner(s) and that is due to any legal liability we might face as a board.  
Owners SHOULD make an effort to attend monthly meetings.  

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 1:41 PM by katherine

Also, you may wish to look up Roberts Rules for conducting formal meetings. We run our Board meetings per Roberts Rules and to keep on topic and productive. The Board meeting must always remain productive. Understanding these rules may serve you well as you attend the monthly Board Meetings. Good Luck!

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 1:47 PM by Katherine

A number of responders have mentioned Robert's Rules of Order. Unless the assn's bylaws state RRO must be followed, those "rules" are meaningless. The BOD must follow the bylaws and any state laws pertaining to meetings. It's not uncommon for board meetings to be closed to the owners in states where there is no open meeting law. Here in AZ we have an open meeting law which requires the members to receive notice of board meetings. The members may speak at a designated time during the meeting and also have the right to speak before the board takes action on an agenda item. There is no law against speaking to something that is not on the agenda; however, in most instances my board will listen and then inform the member they will make a decision later. Members should not expect the board to discuss or make any decisions on items that are not on the agenda. 

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 4:13 PM by mary

In response to the post above: Roberts Rules are guideline and are not meaningless with regard to how a meeting is structured and how one should conduct themselves at a meeting intended to be productive. I don't believe anyone here is suggesting those supercede the by-laws or state laws. Simply that understanding the mechanics of how the meetings are conducted will make for a better experience for all. It would not hurt the poster to familiarize himself with these basic guidelines.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 7:25 PM by katherine

Robert's Rules are great when used properly. Some Members (Owners and Directors, however, use them to obstruct rather than facilitate.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 8:00 PM by mek

My hoa board has created a dictatorship. During the last annual meeting I was obstructed by the chairwoman and not allowed to finish my motion which had been seconded. 
My motion was to expose a fiduciary breach that I found had been committed. 
I was told that there was no general question and answer period in which to make a motion before we voted on new members. 
I was told that If I wanted to pursue the matter that I should use an attorney to do so. 
Roberts rules tell us to hear the minority. If the minority loses they are to accept it and try again later.  
What does a minority do when it is purposely and illegally stifled?

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 10:38 PM by Mike

I am the 11th persons to respond on the same day. 
In California there is Open Condominium Act. 
I am sure your Bylaws have some wordings that says the board meetings are open to board members, so does the corporations code of your state regarding mutual benefit corporation's board meeting must be open. 
What your chairwoman wants is that she want homeowners to help her set agenda or present items for next meeting's agenda. 
What your chairwomen can accept perhaps is an agenda item that allows homeowners to speak (1 minutes or two each) on "Items not on the agenda". 
Usually this kind of "Open agenda" come first in the list of items. That is before the Old Business and New Business groups.

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 11:05 PM by BETP Inc

mike, how could your motion be seconded when you say the chairwoman did not give you a chance to finish the motion 
when you are stating that there was a breach of fiduciary duty i do not see where a m otion would be made 
it would be better to write your complaint with the details of the breach and send it by certified mail to the board of directors.per florida statute, the board must respond to your letter within a specific amount of time, then your chairwoman will know you are serious and depending on the breach, you may be able to file a formal complaint with the state as we have those options in florida. 
our board repeatly failed to fund the roof reserves and i filed a formal complaint 
it did take months for the investigation but the association was warned to properly fund the reserves 
it is against fl. statutes not to allow owners at the regular board meetings 
owners are allowed to speak at our board meetings after business has been conducted however fl statue does allow the board to make rules such as allowing each homeowner to speak up to three minutes 
and it must be an item discussed on the agenda

posted @ Monday, March 14, 2011 11:12 PM by grace

I said RRO is meaningless in the sense that if they are not required to be used then there is no point in saying what they call for.  
Not all states have open meeting laws as some seem to think, in fact very few do. In most states the BOD may hold a closed board meeting and may prevent members from speaking if they do allow them to attend. IMO, this is not right but if the OPs BOD is not violating the bylaws or state law then there isn't much he can do. The board may or may not listen to his appeals for change. 
Many boards have a Q&A time for members. Ours is at the beginning of the meeting and IAW state law members may also speak before an agenda item is voted on.  
Even if your board does acquiese and set a Q&A period, it would not be unreasonable for them to not make any comments on anything that was not on the agenda. This would certainly not be unreasonable. There are some state laws that only allow discussion and/or voting of agenda items.

posted @ Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:35 AM by mary

Katherine--you have got it exactyly right. to allow most efficient organization of a board meetin g the residents should be encouraged to submit items they would like included on the agenda. With that input a most productive meeting can be sculpted. 
In so far as RRO use is concerned I suggest that while a board is not required to adopt RRO some 85% of similar meetings conducted in our coutry from our House of Represenatives to local garden clubs do follow these popular dictates. But a board may also choose other sets of rules or even announce their own. BUT RULES ARE REQUIRED if you want to efficiently condsuct the business of your association.

posted @ Tuesday, March 15, 2011 4:59 PM by Scott

Hello, Everyone, 
While you are deliberating with the greatest sense of wisdom, there are legislators and legislative assistants doing the same. Their work becomes law, not reasoning anymore, whether good or bad law. 
Might I refer to California Civil Code 1363.05 subsection f and i.? 
You can read that by searching the web with those sections. 
Or, you can search California Codes, select leginfo's site, click civil code , scroll down to enter those section numbers. 
Will you mind tell us whether you think those sections are relevant to the problems we are talking about? 

posted @ Thursday, March 17, 2011 2:57 AM by BETP Inc

In the association I live in, we have a president who is extremely manipulative. The unit owners organized a special meeting in order to have her voted off---the meeting is 3/28---she is stating "the meeting will be illegal" to other owners.

posted @ Tuesday, March 22, 2011 4:21 AM by Gary

Depending upon what state you live in and exactly what your bylaws say about calling meetings, your board Pres may be right. 
I live in AZ and we have a state law addressing recalls which requires a petition to be presented to the BOD and the BOD has a certain number of days to call a meeting. Many bylaws only give the board the authority to call meetings. Some only give members that authority after they have petitioned the board to do so and the board has failed.

posted @ Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:42 AM by mary

Our condo just elected a new board.T hey are downgrading the previous board for everything from parking to air conditioning to the pavers. And they won't let us speak at the Board meetings, unlike the old board. We thought we were getting somehting good when we changed the board. Rite now it looks like we made a mistake.

posted @ Tuesday, March 22, 2011 11:05 AM by Adelson the Baker

I have read all the comments about 
your association's new boards compared to the former one. 
First impressions should not be the basis for deciding whether the board is a good one or bad. Procedural rules are not for determining standards of board conduct. The very self-dealing boards usually acted very proper. 
I propose you judge the board by whether it can have the DISCLOSURE STANDARD as that of Cal. Civil Code sec.1365.2 and OPPORTUNITY FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION as that of Cal Civil Code. sec. 1363.840. 
You can read those two statutes by searching the Internet with the statute name and section numbers. 

posted @ Tuesday, March 22, 2011 3:10 PM by BETP Inc

We are a small 32 unit association in south Florida. Our vice president has taken over doing the minutes of the meeting as her mother has currently taken over doing the bookkeeper. The minutes were/are the bookkeeper's job, but the VP is doing them now for the last three meetings. I feel that she is intentionally not signing the minute reports, as she has been on the board now in one position or another for seven plus years. Is this legal, her not signing off on the reports? They go in a master binder so we have a record of all our meetings, but the last three meetings that she has done, are not signed, so really there is no proof of who completed them? All our other meeting are signed by the previous two bookkeepers. This includes our annual meeting that we just had, she again did not sign the minutes?? please advise...

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:06 AM by Ms. Pham

A board may simply by majority vote of the board members opt to conduct their meetings using Roberts Rules as their format. If a board does not chose Roberts then it is incumbent upon them to select some other guide or to publish their own rules. One cannot conduct a meaningful meeting until the board and the residents attending the meeting share common ground over the rules that dictate how the session shall be run.

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:15 AM by Charles Adler

@Larry Davis:  
Most important comment on this thread:  
"Far too many questions posted on this forum deal with technicalities of following and applying rules rather than asking ourselves how do we promote a sense of community?"  

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:13 PM by prince hal

Prince Hal 
You have made the key point. If a community can really be established the Board/resident relationship is no problem.

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 1:24 PM by Charles Adler

Ms Pham, 
The fact that the minutes are unsigned is, IMO,meaningless. Our minutes are unsigned and are professionally taken by a person who also takes minutes of the city council and other city boards, etc. 
I would be more concerned that the content of the minutes is correct.

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:39 PM by mary

Minutes should be signed and must be accepted or approved by the Board.

posted @ Thursday, April 28, 2011 7:32 PM by Peter Spencer

Perhaps they "should" be signed but I doubt there is a requirement, either in the assn's gov. docs. or state law. The minutes are "approved" by the BOD, the treasurer's report is "accepted" by the BOD.

posted @ Friday, April 29, 2011 8:36 AM by mary

I have had damaged done to my Florida condo due to construction & repairs done to the unit above me. All repairs were authorized by the board and paid through assessments. After repeated emails and finally a "registered" letter to the building committee chairman and spokesmen (also a board member), he has refused to even acknowledge the damage & correspondence. Unfortunately I don't have the funds necessary to hire an attorney and fight thier "unlimited" legal fund... shouldn't a response be mandatory...What rights do I have,??..any suggestions as to recourse...I did have a structual engineer inspect and concur with my findings and he found additional damage that was also done. There also appears to be collusion between contractor, manager and board as they all claimed that no damage was done to my unit when I initially brought the matter to thier attention .

posted @ Monday, May 02, 2011 7:04 PM by Gene Federico

In RFegards to Roberts Rules I know of no mandatory dictate that insists they be used to conduct a condo not HOA board meeting. But if such denial of their application is forthco0ming from a board then they must announce the rules that they will impose to control their meetings. To ignore this requirement is to foster a dictatorship and chaos.

posted @ Saturday, July 09, 2011 9:38 AM by Scott

Some assn bylaws require that RRO be used, but, IMO, most do not. I doubt that it's a requirement that the BOD announce what set of parliamentary procedures they will use to conduct their meetings. Because a board does not use RRO, or does not announce what parliamentary procedure they will use certainly does NOT mean a dictatorship is in place. Contrary to what you may think, or perhaps have experienced, there are many, many good boards out there who operate in the best interests of the assn and it's members.

posted @ Saturday, July 09, 2011 10:36 AM by mary

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