- December 15, 2019
- Posted by: Scott Setterlund
- Category: associations, Business plans, communities, Community, Economics, Finance & accounting, HOA
Most Idaho HOA Board members don’t know, understand or value the importance of taking minutes at their meetings. They see them as an additional Board activity. Moreover, it’s likely that meeting minutes are full of typographical errors and contain colorful descriptions of the people at the meeting, rather than recording relevant issues.
Verbose and unfocused ramblings spell trouble as a public record for any homeowner’s association. Taking meeting minutes should matter to every member in the HOA, and should especially matter to each sitting Board member. Board meeting minutes are admissible in a court of law and can be used to defend the Board against lawsuits or could be used by a litigious homeowner to demonstrate a Board’s neglect. To protect the Board from being sued and the HOA from exposure to unanticipated assessments, taking meeting minutes is vital to a homeowner’s association.
Here are five good reasons to be concerned
Minutes offer their paying membership the basis of the Board’s decisions and the rationale behind them. New Boards should be able to piece together what happened in the past from the minutes.
Minutes are an outline of the issues discussed and serve to justify the Board’s actions. The minutes should always include all the important facts and should record the action taken by the Board.
Minutes serve as a reminder of future action. The Board can use the minutes as a record to evaluate the progress of projects by tracking them.
Minutes should offer relevant information to the entire membership who is not present at the formal meeting. Outsiders to the association, such as potential home buyers, real estate agents, title companies and financial institutions, can and do examine the minutes to judge the financial status and solvency of the association. The minutes should be accessible to the entire membership, so that they can evaluate the competency of the Board.
Minutes are confidential and can be used in court to prove the Board acted responsibly.
What to record
When taking minutes, set parameters. Most HOA Board members who take minutes agree that less is more and that the amount of detail the Board includes can sink or save them in court. During litigation, everything is examined. Boards can run into trouble if a member makes a defamatory remark, which is duly written down, or when it levies an assessment without explaining the reasons why. Be specific and concise to the issue.
Accurate, But Plain-Vanilla
For better or worse, wording can also disguise tensions in the Board.
Perhaps there are arguments about a clubhouse needing repairs that result in a fist fight, broken glass or damaged furniture. The minutes should only report that “a very intense discussion” took place, adding that the homeowner’s association would be reimbursed for the “accidental damages.”
Careful wording is one step away from falsifying events, and that should be avoided.
Still looking for help?
MGM Association Management has been serving HOAs in Idaho for the past 20 years. They are an active member of the Community Association Institute, a national advocacy and legislative organization that provides guidance and oversight to over 34,000 members and 64 chapters across the United States. MGM is a strong advocate to the people who live in HOAs and they should be run accordingly. Their service style embraces the belief that engaged neighbors result in a more thriving community, reduced exposure to risks, and higher home values.
If more information on effective meeting minutes, contact MGM at (208) 846-9189 or go to www.gomgm.com.