Meetings are not only vital for ensuring the strength of your community association, but they are also one of the many legal requirements for operation. Whether you oversee a small or large community of properties, you have a duty to host regular meetings with property owners as shareholders in the association. These meetings offer a chance to resolve disputes, discuss maintenance or management contracts, and hold votes on the election of members.
Types of Community Association Meetings
Under Virginia law, all community associations are required to hold a formal meeting at least once each year. The annual meeting is usually reserved for the preparation of the next year’s business, such as the election of new board members, presenting the annual budget, and proposals for upcoming capital projects.
In addition to the annual meeting, an association may require:
- Board meetings. Also called the meeting of the board of directors, these sessions occur on a monthly or quarterly basis (depending on the size of the association) and are open to all members. These meetings offer an opportunity for members to comment on any matter relating to the association, although bylaws may limit discussion to specific topics listed on the meeting agenda.
- Executive meetings. Executive sessions are meetings that involve only the members of the board and are used to discuss confidential, private, or privileged information. Under Virginia law, an executive session may be convened to consult with legal counsel, discuss personnel matters, consider contracts, discuss pending litigation, or discuss the personal liability of members to the association. Although members cannot attend executive sessions, the law requires that any motion for an executive session shall state specifically the purpose for the session, and a description of the meeting’s purpose must be included in the minutes. The board of directors must restrict discussion to the specific stated purpose of the executive session, and no motion agreed to in an executive session will be effective unless a vote is performed in an open meeting.
- Committee meetings. Larger HOAs may allow members to form committees for a particular purpose, such as public safety or holiday and event planning. Each committee may meet independently and present its minutes and proposals to the board and members at the annual or regular board meetings.
- Emergency meetings. Emergency meetings may be called if there is an item that requires immediate action, such as dangerous weather or a national emergency. Special sessions may be exempt from advance notification requirements and can be held virtually or via telephone.
Community Associations Must Follow State Laws and Bylaws When Conducting Meetings
It is not enough that your meetings meet the requirements set forth in your bylaws; they must also be in compliance with state statutes. While the frequency of your meetings may vary, certain procedural standards for these sessions have been set, including:
- Attendance. State laws establish certain measures to ensure that the board of directors does not circumvent open meeting requirements. First, it requires a quorum, or minimum number of board members, to officially convene a meeting. It also prohibits any board members from conducting business in an informal gathering without the notification or presence of members.
- Notification. All members should be notified of meetings far enough in advance that they have a reasonable opportunity to attend. State law requires that members receive notification by mail at least 14 days in advance of any annual or regularly scheduled meeting, noting the time and place of the session. The meeting agenda must be publicized in advance of the meeting, and any issue scheduled for discussion or vote needs to be included on the agenda.
- Adherence to the agenda. A meeting agenda serves two main functions: it allows discussions to stay on topic and within time limits, and prevents future disputes between homeowners and the community association. If an issue appears on the agenda but is not discussed at the meeting, homeowners may feel as if their concerns are not being heard. Ideally, an agenda should include a short opening, roll call, reading the minutes and treasurer’s report, and enough time for discussions and questions on each item before motions and voting.
- Recordkeeping. Members have a right to request written meeting information from the board, and failure to produce these records can lead to homeowner or association disputes. Associations are required to keep minutes of the meetings of the board of directors, and to make these available to any member who requests them.
Attorneys David Mercer and Lucia Anna “Pia” Trigiani represent community associations throughout Virginia, resolving current disputes as well as identifying future issues that have the potential to cause problems years down the line. Feel free to browse our library of free information or use our online contact form if you have a question about running your next HOA meeting.