Are you wondering what type of meetings your HOA should be running regularly? Are you looking for advice on how to structure your HOA meetings to deliver the best results?
It goes without saying - HOAs can differ in so many ways. They can have different rules and regulations, follow different styles of operation, and even see certain aspects of what an HOA is differently.
But there’s one thing all homeowners associations have in common - they all have to hold regular meetings. Some of those meetings concern HOA board members only while others include the whole community but the fact remains is that your HOA must engage with the community regularly through meetings.
Unfortunately, from what we can see, quite often, the type and structure of those meetings pose challenges to HOAs and hence this guide.
On this page, you’ll learn what the five different types of HOA meetings are, and the purpose for each of them. We’ll explain which HOA members should attend, what typical meeting agenda items to include, and the ideal meeting frequency.
What’s more, we’ll also share with you some tips for organizing and running any HOA meeting.
Intrigued? Let’s get right to it, then.
When you think about it, a typical HOA, like yours, has quite a challenge on its hands.
Its role is to oversee the community and the area, monitor progress on various projects and initiatives, after all. And needless to say, any such project involves many moving parts - from conceptualization, getting everyone on the board of directors to agree to the plan, getting the community involved, overseeing contractors, and so much more.
Then, there are various issues arising in the community that the HOA must regularly deal with as well, and even issues relating to its own operations like planning the annual budget.
Basically, it’s a lot.
HOA meetings allow the association to conducts its business better, and progress on many of its activities and initiatives. Meetings may also serve as an open forum for the community, giving the HOA and the residents a chance to get together, clear any issues, and build a thriving community together.
Well, not entirely. The board can call many different meetings, of course. Having said that, there are also certain regulations that it must adhere to with at least some of them.
First, HOAs are governed by their state law. These state laws may define who can become a member of the HOA, among other things.
Together, the state law and governing documents will also control the type of meetings the HOA is required to hold annually and standard practices for holding HOA meetings.
That said, there are five meetings practically every HOA organizes and runs each year.
These meetings are the board meeting, annual meeting, executive session, committee meeting, and emergency session.
Let’s go through them in turn, then.
By far, this is the most common type of HOA meeting. Although the name might suggest that it’s a closed gathering of the board of directors, the meeting is actually open to all HOA members. The meeting’s purpose is to give all HOA members a chance to meet the board regularly and discuss the association’s business as well as the management of the community.
Commonly, the board meeting covers topics such as the property manager’s or management company’s work, disputes between members, the progress of various maintenance projects, and any other issues that may need to be addressed.
Typically, HOAs hold board meetings either monthly or quarterly, the frequency dictated by the size of the organization.
All HOA members must be notified about the date of the meeting well in advance, although the notice time will vary between HOAs. Some associations will require only seven days’ notice, whereas others must notify their members 30 days in advance.
As the name suggests, the annual meeting takes place once a year, is open to the community, and its goal is to give all residents a chance to learn more about the HOA.
Because this is an open meeting that all community members can participate in, its agenda typically focuses on the big picture of HOAs operations. During the meeting, the board presents the annual budget, introduces any new board members, and notifies residents of any upcoming projects.
If there are any committees in the HOA, these get a chance to report on their activities during the meeting as well.
As with the board meeting, HOAs are required to give the community ample notice about the meeting. Typically, the notice is at least 30 days before the meeting.
Unlike the two HOA meetings we mentioned above, an executive session is closed to the public. Typically, only the board of directions attends the meeting.
Why, because the closed nature of the executive session allows the board to discuss confidential matters like discussing ongoing litigation, for example. Similarly, the executive session gives board members a chance to discuss personal issues that might affect their role and commitment to the board.
Many HOAs run executive sessions after an open HOA meeting - an annual meeting or the board meeting. However, the board may also call these sessions to discuss an urgent matter as well.
Because of the confidential nature of the executive session, minutes from the meeting are not available to all members. However, the information that such a meeting took place might be recorded in open board meetings, for example.
Not every HOA would run the committee meeting. Not every association has committees that would need to meet regularly. But if it does, and those committees manage smaller projects - like a landscaping committee, for example, or a safety committee, then, the meeting is a chance for them to discuss their activities with the community.
HOA committees, typically, include at least some board members as well as non-board members, and are, typically, required to hold regular meetings to present their work.
Committee meetings are open to the community, and also offer residents a chance to express their interest in getting involved in a particular committee.
Just like the board meeting, committees must notify their members about the meeting with ample notice, typically seven or 30 days, and minutes from those meetings are available to all members.
The four meeting types we’ve discussed above happen on regular basis and are planned well in advance.
But that’s not the case with the final meeting type on our list. The emergency meeting can be called in at a short notice to discuss urgent matters or issues that require immediate action. HOAs may call in a special meeting to discuss new developments in the area, natural disasters affecting the neighborhood, and many other emergencies.
Because of their urgent nature, emergency meetings do not require notices and could even be held remotely, over the phone, or on a Zoom call. However, HOAs are required to take down emergency meeting minutes, and these must be available to all members.
Like we said above - Much of how HOA organizes its meetings is dictated by the state law and the association’s governing documents. That said, it doesn’t mean that the association cannot streamline and improve the process of organizing and running meetings, and if you struggle with running meetings successfully, here are some ideas that might help.
Naturally, this does not relate to emergency meetings. These you will call when needed. However, you should be able to plan board meetings and the annual meeting ahead. Doing so will ensure a number of things:
Not every meeting type will require the same number of participants. However, you should set the participation guidelines to ensure that meetings are valid and decisions taken on them hold.
For example, you might set up quorum requirements and define the minimum required number of board members in attendance for the meeting to be considered valid.
An agenda is nothing else but a plan for a successful meeting. The agenda document defines what topics will be covered, and in what order, helping to organize and go through the meeting.
Also, ideally, distribute the agenda before the meeting to allow everyone to prepare and familiarize themselves with what’s going to be discussed.
This, actually, is a requirement but it’s worth mentioning it among those tips. You should take minutes of every meeting to retain an official record of what’s been discussed, new motions, votes, and other issues of the HOAs activities.
The minutes may include various information, depending on the meeting type. However, there are some elements that are common to each:
But meeting minutes are not a transcript of the meeting. Often, associations try to make these meeting minutes more lengthy than they should be. Minutes are meant to signify that the meeting occurred and to document any actions and motions. As a result, they should focus on what was decided, rather on what was said during the meeting.
Note - Not all meeting minutes should be available to all members. In case of an executive meeting, for instance, minutes remain confidential. That said, you can mention the meeting in the open board meeting notes, along with a general overview of what’s been discussed.
Finally, let’s briefly cover how to handle motions. The process is, often, the major part of an HOA meeting, after all. And, for the most part, HOAs follow the parliamentary procedure when establishing rules for the meeting. This includes using Rober’s Rule of Order when handling motions. In a nutshell, the rule dictates the procedure to go as follows:
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