The minutes are written – now what?
Proper handling of meeting records is key. Important considerations include reviewing for accuracy, making corrections, distribution, filing and storage.
In our years of running a professional minute-taking company working with more than 500 condominium boards across Ontario, we’ve noticed that the management of meeting minutes differs from board to board. Of course, taking minutes is not only good practice, it is mandatory as part of keeping an official minute book under the Condominium Act. But precisely what happens after the minutes are taken and how they are distributed are points of contention.
A central consideration when deciding who should take your meeting minutes is delivery time: often a designated board member, a property manager or a hired third party is enlisted. One benefit of hiring a professional minute taker is that the delivery time of the completed minutes should be clearly disclosed prior to engaging. A deadline should also be set if it is the board secretary who takes the minutes; it can depend on the protocol of the board, but receiving the completed document within one week of the meeting is a good guideline.
Prompt receipt of the minutes allows ample time for them to be reviewed before the next meeting, which improves the efficiency of meetings: instead of analyzing the previous minutes at length for the first part of each meeting, most of the legwork can and should be done via email, weeks in advance. It also reduces potential unnecessary discussion and debate during the meeting, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Distribution, Part 1
Minutes should be submitted to the building manager and the board president, who should take a day or two to review them separately and then compare reviews with one another via email. Next, they should formulate one email to the rest of the board with their suggested amendments in the body of the email and attach a first draft of the minutes. The other directors should be asked to submit their opinions and their own proposed changes by a deadline – three to five days, for example.
Once the board has had the chance to respond, the manager should send the amendments on which there is consensus to the recording secretary or the minute-taking company to be entered into the working copy of the minutes. This sets the stage for efficient board meetings with the goal of getting the previous set of minutes approved and signed promptly. Disputed changes should not be made to the minutes; rather, the board should be notified in advance that those proposed amendments will be discussed at the next meeting.
Once the board agrees on all the amendments to be made to the previous minutes, they can be approved with a formal motion during the next meeting and signed.
Distribution, Part 2
Once minutes are approved, how they should be distributed and stored?
Minutes only need to be distributed to individual owners upon request, in which case it is important to ensure that only the open minutes are released — not the in-camera minutes. In-camera minutes pertain to actual or contemplated litigation, insurance investigations involving the corporation, and items related to corporation employees (not including contracts) and specific unit owners. These items do not need to be disclosed in the regular minutes and the board has the discretion to keep these subjects confidential.
How to Store Minutes
The best solution for filing and storing minutes is a cloud-based system that is available to both board members and managers, making the documents available to all relevant parties.
Condominium records (including minutes) are often misplaced or difficult to obtain because the turnover of board members, management companies and managers is quite common. At Minutes Solutions, we frequently get calls from boards saying, “Can you please send us the minutes for the last two years? We recently got a new manager and the old manager is not reachable.” Or simply, “Can you send these minutes — we can’t seem to find them.”
Keeping minutes and meeting documents on a centralized system allows 24/7 access to board members and managers and solves the issue of misplacing, losing, or not being able to access minutes. Some professional minute-taking companies offer a storage service that does exactly this. With a cloud-based system managed by a professional minute-taking company, boards can limit and regulate access in case anything were to happen with the manager or a rogue board member.
Although every board may have a unique way of distributing and managing their meeting records, following these steps will establish a straightforward protocol to ensure that they are abiding by legislation and providing prompt access to minutes and records.