Month: June 2024

How Often Should Community Association Boards Meet?

Community association boards serve the community by maintaining the quality of life in condominiums, homeowners associations, and cooperatives. They are responsible for the governance and management of the community, ensuring that residents’ needs are met and community standards are upheld. To achieve this, a board must meet regularly to conduct business and make decisions essential for fostering a successful and thriving community. But how often should community association boards meet to fulfill their role? Here are some factors to consider.

Local Laws and Bylaws:

Local laws rarely specify how often board meetings must occur, but it is worth checking the regulations that govern your community association. Some jurisdictions have sunshine laws requiring certain meetings to be open to community members. Additionally, your board’s governing documents, particularly the bylaws, usually outline the minimum number of required meetings. Adhering to these guidelines is essential, as failing to do so undermines the board’s responsibility to maintain proper governance practices. However, boards may need to meet more often based on the specific needs and circumstances of their community. 

Age and Size of the Community

The age and size of a community can greatly influence how often board meetings are needed. Newer communities may require more frequent meetings to address initial setup issues, such as establishing governance documents, creating budgets, and addressing new residents’ concerns. In contrast, older communities with established systems may not need to meet as often. Larger communities, with more residents and potentially more issues to manage, might benefit from more frequent board meetings, such as monthly or bi-monthly meetings to ensure all issues are addressed promptly. Smaller communities might find quarterly meetings sufficient to manage their affairs effectively.

Recent Events and Crisis Management

Recent events can significantly impact the need for more consistent board meetings. For instance, a community recovering from a natural disaster, like a hurricane, may require regular meetings to coordinate recovery efforts, manage insurance claims, and communicate with residents. Once the crisis has passed, the meeting schedule can return to normal. 

Similarly, when a new board replaces one found to be corrupt or neglectful, more regular meetings are likely necessary to resolve existing issues swiftly, communicate progress to residents, and rebuild community trust. This proactive approach is essential for stabilizing the community and laying the groundwork for long-term improvements.

Level of Community Engagement

In communities where board meetings are open to the public, regular meetings can enhance transparency and trust by providing a platform for residents to voice concerns, ask questions, and stay informed. However, while residents appreciate this opportunity, many do not consistently attend meetings. Therefore, to increase turnout and engagement, boards should maintain a fixed meeting schedule, include agenda items that interest residents, and ensure they follow through on approved decisions. 

Benefits of More Regular Meetings

Regular meetings offer several key benefits, including timely decision-making, which prevents issues from escalating or being neglected, especially for maintenance requests, financial planning, and community disputes. They enhance communication among board members and between the board and the community, leading to better understanding and cooperation. Regular meetings also hold board members accountable for their tasks and responsibilities, building trust within the community and keeping members focused. Finally, more regular meetings allow the board to address issues proactively, saving time and resources in the long run. 

Balancing Frequency with Efficiency

While it’s important to meet frequently enough to address community needs, boards must also avoid meeting so often that it becomes inefficient. Meetings require time and resources, and overly frequent meetings can lead to burnout among both community managers and board members, reducing productivity. Finding the right balance is essential. Boards should establish a meeting schedule that allows for thorough discussion and decision-making without overwhelming the board members, management team, or the community. 

Ultimately, the frequency of meetings should balance the community’s needs and activity level, ensuring effective governance and timely decision-making without risking burnout.

How to Ratify Decisions Made Outside of Board Meetings

How to Ratify Decisions Made Outside of Board Meetings

Did you know that decisions your board makes outside formal meetings are not binding until they are ratified at the next properly constituted meeting?

Many jurisdictions mandate that boards cannot conduct business outside formal meetings and define meetings as forums during which members must be able to communicate live and in real time. Therefore, unless local legislation allows it, decisions made between official meetings – even in writing (e.g., by email) – must be confirmed (ratified) at the next board meeting to ensure their validity.  An informal decision that is not ratified at a formal meeting could pose significant legal risk to your organization: A court or governing body may deem it void or unenforceable, which could lead to costly legal battles, reputational damage, and even the invalidation of important board decisions.

Best Practices for Ratification

To ensure good governance and legally valid decisions:: 

  • Reserve informal decision-making outside meetings to uncontroversial items only.
  • Ratify unofficial decisions at the next duly constituted board meeting. Adequate notice of the meeting must be given as defined by local legislation or your organization’s bylaws, and quorum must be met.
  • Designate on the agenda of the official board meeting time to discuss the informal decisions that were made outside the meeting. 
  • Provide a meeting package of background materials about unofficial decisions that the meeting is scheduled to consider ratifying, including any written comments or informal decision-making (e.g., emails). 
  • Document the ratification in the meeting minutes.

Decisions can be ratified during a meeting by a formal motion or, for smaller boards of up to a dozen members, by casual agreement. Either way, the approval must be explicitly documented in the meeting minutes, which serve as the official record. 

Documenting Ratification by Formal Motion

A board member can make a formal motion at the meeting to ratify the decisions that were taken outside the meeting. If the board passes the motion by a majority vote, document the carried motion in the meeting minutes. 

Consider a scenario where a board made several decisions via email between meetings. At the next meeting,  the board can group and ratify all the decisions together into a single motion, where the motioner and seconder are named in the introductory statement and each approval is listed as a bullet point that contains all the information relevant to the decision:

On a motion made by John Smith, seconded by Jane Doe, it was resolved to ratify the email approvals of the following quotes:

  • JJN Renovations: – $2,599 plus tax to supply and install 10 stainless steel corner guards
  • Pro-Tech Glass Windows and Doors Ltd. – $7,624.58 (tax included) to replace nine glass panels in various units
  • Signature Electric – $2,320 plus tax to repair deficiencies related to thermographic scanning

Motion carried.

Alternatively, each ratified item can have its own topic-specific heading, with the motioner and seconder repeated for each. This format makes it easier to locate specific motions by subject:

JJN Renovations

On a motion made by John Smith, seconded by Jane Doe, it was resolved to ratify the email approval for JJN Renovations to supply and install 10 stainless steel corner guards for $2,599 plus tax. Motion carried.

Pro-Tech Glass Windows and Doors Ltd.

On a motion made by John Smith, seconded by Jane Doe, it was resolved to ratify the email approval for Pro-Tech Glass Windows and Doors Ltd. to replace nine glass panels in various units for $7,624.58 (tax included). Motion carried.

Signature Electric

On a motion made by John Smith, seconded by Jane Doe, it was resolved to ratify the email approval for Signature Electric to repair the deficiencies related to thermographic scanning for $2,320 plus tax. Motion carried.

Documenting Ratification by Casual Agreement

Smaller boards often have a more casual style and confirm decisions without passing a formal motion. This approach to ratification is valid as long as the board reaches consensus during the meeting and explicitly documents its agreement in the meeting minutes. 

For example: “The Board ratified the email approval for JJN Renovations to supply and install 10 stainless steel corner guards for $2,599 plus tax.”

Legal Considerations

The legality of conducting and ratifying decisions via email may vary by jurisdiction. For instance, some local statutes and legislation, such as Ontario’s Condominium Act, require that members must be able to communicate “simultaneously and instantaneously” for a meeting to be duly constituted. This disqualifies email decisions from being valid. Always ensure that your board’s practices comply with relevant legislation, as it takes precedence over an organization’s bylaws.

Properly ratifying board decisions taken outside meetings ensures that all approvals are legally binding and recognized. By following best practices for ratification, boards can maintain good governance and uphold the integrity of their decision-making processes.