A major part of HOA management is conducting the annual meeting. Annual meetings require significant work. To avoid any slip-ups, HOA Boards should follow some simple guidelines:
- Nothing can take the place of careful planning, such as establishing the pre-meeting timeline. Proper scheduling means more than setting the meeting date. For example, the Board may need to set up a nominating committee and provide notices well before the meeting date.
It’s a good idea to plan backwards from the annual meeting date. The bylaws governing HOA management will dictate what needs to take place prior to the annual meeting. The Board needs to document all the required tasks in the governing documents then schedule and plan them accordingly.
Whatever the governing documents identify as deadlines, the Board can send additional notices in newsletters and other mediums. Frequent reminders to save the date will help improve attendance.
- Various states have laws governing HOA annual meetings. It’s up to the HOA management team to understand state requirements regarding formats, schedules, notices, postings, agendas, time frames, distribution methods and more.
- Expert annual meetings require professional input. For example, the HOA’s management company and attorney should help oversee meeting notices and elections. This level of expertise can ensure the HOA abides by all state laws and regulations.
In addition, communications to homeowners prior to the meeting as well as the election ballots must be clearly written. If they contain mistakes, elections might be contested and, even worse, result in litigation.
- Board members must be very careful not to discuss and resolve issues amongst themselves via e-mail prior to the annual meeting. Some states even cite this practice as a violation.
This restriction does not include hot button issues affecting the neighborhood. Rather than wait until the annual meeting when tempers might flare, good HOA management involves educating homeowners early about the issue and hopefully diffusing the situation as much as possible.
- Proper HOA management at the annual meeting requires an accurate check-in process for attendees. This process is critical because of specific voting requirements. For example, how will the Board determine who voted by mail and in person? Can homeowners delinquent on their assessments vote? If not, how will delinquency status be determined?
- The HOA Board along with its professional consultants must decide what’s appropriate and legal to include on the annual meeting agenda. For example, the Board must eliminate agenda items that don’t meeting confidentiality or privacy criteria. Those discussion topics should be scheduled for closed sessions.
- Depending on the neighborhood and HOA management style, the Board may decide to hold an event in conjunction with the annual meeting. A gathering before or after the meeting, like a pot luck, ice cream social, speaking engagement, meet and greet of board candidates, etc., may help improve community relations.
By following these suggestions, an HOA Board can conduct a productive meeting for all attendees. One of the most important recommendations for HOA management is to always incorporate positive items on the annual meeting agenda. Ideally, everyone should come away feeling good about their involvement with their neighborhood. It is always recommended to acknowledge the good stuff, including accomplishments of individuals and committees.
AAM works with many of the largest homebuilding and community development companies in the United States such as Del Webb/Pulte, Shea Homes and Meritage Homes. Founded in 1990, AAM employs 370 people and manages more than 440 homeowners associations in the United States.
The company is a member of the Alliance Management Network, an invitation-only coalition of HOA management professionals dedicated to furthering industry professionalism, as well as a number of other HOA management services-related groups. AAM is dedicated to delivering total peace of mind to the Boards of Directors and homeowners in the communities it manages.
About the Author
Susan Williams is Vice President, Business Development and Marketing at AAM Community Management, one of America's most-respected Homeowner Association (HOA) management companies. Learn more about HOA Management by visiting http://www.AssociatedAsset.com/.