Holding an annual meeting is required by law for every corporate entity, including “non-profit” corporations like HOAs and condo associations. It is a very important meeting for all homeowners, including the board, as it is where the direction of the community is determined by all.
Some of the activities that are commonly included in the annual meeting agenda are:
- Updates on current projects
- Plans for capital improvements
- Proposals requiring residents’ approval
- Approval of the annual budget
- Board member elections
- Open forums for all homeowners
If the purpose of the meeting requires residents’ votes or approval, you have to reach a quorum or a minimum number of owners who attend the meeting.Otherwise, the meeting will have to be adjourned or rescheduled, which will cause the Board more work and the association, more money.
Here are 5 expert tips on how to run a successful and productive HOA annual meeting:
1. Start Planning Early
Planning should start 6-8 months in advance. This gives the board enough time to finalize the agenda, prepare for the meeting, and announce the meeting to all homeowners. Notifying residents clearly and early can help increase attendance rate.
To boost attendance even further, you can plan it around an event. Most people think that annual meetings are dull and boring. But turning it into a social gathering with food provided makes it seem fun and engaging.
As for food, make sure to factor in residents’ food allergies and diet restrictions. Ask them beforehand (e.g. in the RSVP email) before ordering food, hiring a caterer, or making reservations at a restaurant.
2. Serve Timely And Frequent Notices
There are rules and restrictions on when and how you should be sending out a meeting notice to all HOA members. Make sure to check your governing documents and state laws and follow them to the letter.
In some HOA communities, the Board is required to serve a first and second notice. Typically, the first notice is sent 60 days in advance. Some also require that the notice be posted in a common area such as on a community bulletin.
Hereafter, send regular reminders so the homeowners can integrate the HOA meeting into their schedule. It’s a cheap and great way to boost attendance.
3. Set Your Agenda
Ask yourselves: What do you want to have accomplished by the end of the meeting?
Tailor your agenda to the meeting, and assign time frames for agenda items. Not all agenda items are equally important. Having time frames also ensures that there will be less rambling and more going straight to the point to the discussion of important matters.
Publish the agenda to the community in advance so they’ll know why the meeting is being held and what to expect, and send out reminders regularly.
Although the board has made the annual meeting to look like a social gathering, it is still essentially a business meeting. So stick to the agenda and get the business done and out of the way before the socials.
4. Prepare A Packet
A meeting packet serves as an outline for the meeting and includes relevant information and documents that the community needs to understand, discuss, and decide on issues at hand. Meeting packets should be sent in advance to give members time to review it. Packets are also great for briefing residents who are not as regularly involved with HOA matters.
5. Take The Minutes
Taking the minutes of the meeting is very important, especially at an HOA annual meeting where many issues are discussed. It is primarily the board secretary’s job but in case of their absence, someone else must be appointed to take on the task. After the meeting, a copy of the minutes should be sent to each homeowner.
6. Enlist The Help of an HOA Management Company
An HOA management company can take a lot of the administrative burden of holding an annual meeting off the board. They can review and give professional advice on your agenda, handle the communication with homeowners, and even take care of the meeting’s food and drinks.
Photos by Jaime Lopes, Bantersnaps, and Amy Hirschi on Unsplash