HOA Meetings: Does Your State Have Rules for Your Meeting Agendas?

July 2010
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If you can believe it, some states regulate your meeting agendas. Check your state law and governing documents to determine rules that govern your agendas. Here's a brief sample of state rules.

Arizona—"We don't have any requirements about what specifically to put on an agenda," says Kristen L. Rosenbeck, a partner at the Mulcahy Law Firm PC in Phoenix, which represents associations. "Some association boards have an open forum at their meetings, and in that case, we have to let owners know what's going to be discussed and voted on. All the matters the board is going to talk about should be on the agenda."

California—"In California, you must publish your agenda, and you can't do anything at your meeting that's not on your agenda, with certain exceptions," says James R. McCormick Jr., a partner at Peters & Freedman LLP in Encinitas, Calif., who represents associations. "We have open meeting act in California. "You have to know what you're going to be talking about, and you have to post the agenda four days ahead of the meeting."

That simple rule can cause confusion. "Can you include 'other business' on your agenda?" McCormick asks. "Maybe, maybe not. There's no case law covering that yet. Some associations say that if you can include a little bit of wiggle language in your agenda, you should. But how does that help owners know whether to come to a meeting because something they're interested in will be discussed? Others have said they'll include every possible topic they might discuss on every agenda. "

What happens if an owner raises an issue not on your agenda? "You might say, 'We'll research that and put it on the agenda for next meeting,'" suggests McCormick. "Or you can briefly talk about it. The question is how much of a stickler do you want to be? I say that if you don't have anyone who's complaining, just conduct your business. If you have someone complaining, be more careful. I'm not advocating associations break the law, but if nobody's complaining and you're acting in good faith, just conduct your business."

Florida—"For condos, anything to be addressed at a board meeting must be identified on the agenda unless it's an emergency," says Lisa A. Magill, a shareholder and association attorney at Becker & Poliakoff PA in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "For normal board meetings, agendas must be posted in a conspicuous place on the property. For a homeowners association, it's generally the entrance gate, and a lot of HOAs have a sign where they can post information to owners. For the typical high-rise condo, the elevator and mail room are always a good place to post agendas.

"The agenda is so that people will know if they want to come to the meeting or not," adds Magill. "If an item isn't on the agenda, you need a majority plus one to address it. So if you have a five-member board, you'd need four votes to address an issue.

"We also have very specific requirements on naming a special assessment on the agenda," says Magill. "The agenda must include the possible amount of the special assessment, the purpose, and the nature of the special assessment. That has to be sent 14 days in advance so people have an opportunity to go to the meeting."

Minnesota—"Minnesota doesn't have required elements for agendas," says Matthew A. Drewes, a partner at Thomsen & Nybeck PA in Edina, Minn., who represents associations. "However, for special meetings, you can't conduct business that wasn't listed in the notice of the meeting provided to owners."

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