Ask Your Board Member
Inquiries from Others
Q: What is a common amount of time in which homeowners should receive the minutes from the last meeting? Annual meeting?
A: Typically the monthly Board meeting minutes are approved at the following Board meeting. Once the minutes are approved they are then available for residents viewing. Example: the May Board meeting minutes are reviewed and approved at the June Board meeting. The day(s) following the Board meeting the minutes can be posted on the community website, mailed, or otherwise provided to the community depending on how the Board has chosen to distribute the minutes.
The annual meeting minutes are typically reviewed and approved at the next year’s annual meeting. The minutes are provided to the homeowner’s in the Notice of Annual Meeting packet and can therefore be reviewed prior to the annual meeting date. However, there are some associations that choose to approve the annual meeting minutes at the following Board meeting as well.
Q: What do other associations do when board members are not in the area during the winter months?
A: With email and other technology based communication options it is possible for a Board member to stay an active member even when not in the area during the winter months. Much of our communications are sent via email therefore any Board decisions that are needed may be communicated and responded to in this way. The out-of-state Board member may also choose to attend the Board meetings via teleconference. If the Board member is on a committee they may choose to have another Board member take their liaison position until they return.
Q: If I am not able to attend the annual meeting, I do NOT sign a proxy sheet as I do NOT know the agenda/ issues of items to be discussed so I can't tell my neighbor how to vote. Is this common?
A: One of the most important meetings held every year for every homeowner’s association is the annual meeting. This meeting is for the purpose of electing other homeowners among yourselves who will serve and direct the affairs of your association and to discuss and decide any major changes that might affect you as a homeowner. The state statute and your governing documents require that all homeowners have sufficient notification prior to any such meeting so that you may attend, or if busy, reschedule your commitments in order to attend. It also requires that a certain percentage of all homeowners must be present at these meetings, to indicate that a proper notification was sent giving all homeowners the ability to attend.
If you received your notification most likely there was also an agenda included. Most years you will find that an HOA in giving notice for the meeting doesn’t have anything more specific on the agenda other than reading last year’s minutes, a treasurer’s report, an update on what has been accomplished, and election of new board members. If nothing else is listed, that would mean that the association is not considering any other business at that meeting.
While it is always important for homeowners to participate in voting for their representatives in the HOA, sometimes it is not possible to attend the meeting. That is why each annual meeting notification also commonly has enclosed a proxy notice form, which allows you to have someone to have the authority to stand in your place at that meeting.
Unless you feel that strongly about an issue that is being voted upon (in which case you should show up) the question “should I give the proxy holder authority to vote in my place?” is a moot point, everyone at the meeting is going to vote and make a decision without you. If you look closely, most proxies also have the option for the homeowner to indicate that the proxy may be used for the purposes of establishing and holding the meeting only, but without giving anyone the authority to vote in your place.
In my estimation, every homeowner, in the very least, even if they cannot or do not wish to attend, should fill the proxy out to that extent and send it on to the meeting. This will allow for the homeowners in the association to hold the annual meeting with quorum being made.
Q: One Board member is not pulling her weight. She has missed several meetings and doesn't follow through on commitments to do things. I think her new job is taking more of her time than she thought. Can the Board "fire" her?
A: How a Board member may be removed (with or without cause) is governed by your Bylaws. (If there is nothing in your Bylaws, you should check the statute under which the Association was created--usually Minnesota Statutes Chapter 317A.) Generally, removal of a Board member requires vote of the Association membership.
In this case, since the basis for removal is not, for example, egregious misconduct, you may wish to try to handle things more diplomatically first. Rather than jumping to a special meeting of the Association, you may want to talk with the Board member privately, expressing your concerns for the various demands on her time and her inability to meet the commitment to the Association required of a Board member. Give her the opportunity to resign before calling a special meeting to consider removal. By giving her the opportunity to resign rather than "firing" her, you save the Association some money (since there are clearly costs associated with calling and holding a special meeting), and allow her a more graceful exit. She may even be relieved to be given the opportunity to resign--some folks have a hard time admitting they've over-committed!
Q: Is it usual for boards to skip months without meeting?
A: Each board determines how many meetings they have according the governing documents. Even if the documents allow the board to meet on a quarterly basis, the board should still address all concerns from owners within a timely manner regardless if they have a meeting that month.
Q: Are homeowners able to speak at board meetings?
A: We encourage our board to allow a 10-15 minute “homeowner open forum” at the beginning of each board meeting to allow owners to come and give their suggestions, comments, etc. This is the time that owners can voice their opinions and concerns to the board. The board will listen - not comment - during this time. The board will then close the open forum and the owners are more than welcome to stay for the remainder of the board meeting, but will not be able to comment on the agenda items. The board may discuss any matters that were brought up in the open forum under “new business”. Most of the time, however, items brought up that the open forum are put on the next meeting agenda to be addressed. It is always a good idea if an owner has a certain item they would like the board to address at a board meeting, they should contact the manager or board prior to the meeting to get the topic put on the agenda for the meeting.
Q: Our Declaration says the declarant has to turn over control of the association to the owners five years after the sale of the first home, but that deadline has passed and nothing has happened. What can we do?
A: Generally, it is better for the owners to persuade the declarant to turn over control of the association voluntarily, because the owners would benefit from the declarant’s cooperation handing over association records, contracts, accounts and warranties.
If the association is subject to the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (“MCIOA”), then the turnover requirements are based on Minnesota Statutes Section 515B.3-103 and any more restrictive requirements in the Declaration. Minnesota Statutes Section 515B.3-103(d)(3) says that if the board appointed by the declarant does not call a turnover meeting when required, then the owners other than a declarant and its affiliates may cause the meeting to be called as provided in the statute under which the association was created (typically the Nonprofit Corporations Act). The declarant and its affiliates are counted as present at the turnover meeting for purposes of establishing a quorum, regardless of their failure to attend the meeting.
If the association is not subject to MCIOA, then typically the turnover requirements are based on the Declaration, and the governing documents may not give the owners the option of calling a turnover meeting if the board appointed by the Declarant fails to do so. In that case, a lawsuit may be necessary to force the declarant to turn over control of the association.
Q: Our townhomes were built in the early 70's. Are we grand-fathered in to the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA) statutes or was there a time limit before needing to transfer to MCIOA statutes? How can I find out about any updates or amendments to the pre-MCIOA statutes? Thank you!
A: To respond to your first question, at the present time there is no time limit for an association to adopt the MCIOA statues. This is not to say that the legislature may not change the rules in the future. You may want to consider adopting the statues for several reasons, one of which goes to your second question.
The second question deals with keeping up with the changes covering your status and the laws for non profits. There are several thing that you can do to keep current. As a first step you can attend the CAI-MN HOTT and manager meetings. Whenever there are sufficient legislative changes CAI-MN holds educational sessions explaining them.
These changes sometime effect all associations. Secondly, contact on your accountant. They should be up-to-date on the rules for non-profits since they prepare audits and tax returns. Thirdly, ask you attorney periodically about this issues. Lastly, get a copy of the statues periodically and compare to your previous copy.