Who is allowed to attend HOA meetings? This topic can be challenging to grapple with for homeowners associations. But, there are certain rules that generally apply to different types of HOA meetings.
Who Can Attend HOA Meetings?
Most homeowners associations are incorporated as non-profit private organizations. This means that people outside of the association generally cannot attend HOA meetings. These can include residents of neighboring communities and the general public. This is reasonable because non-members do not have a stake in the association.
But, does this mean that everyone within the association can participate? Can homeowners attend HOA meetings of all kinds? Moreover, can renters attend HOA meetings? The answer usually depends on the type of meeting being held. It also hinges on state law and the HOA’s governing documents. For instance, California’s Civil Code Section 4925 states that members can attend any non-executive portion of board meetings.
For most HOAs, association members are allowed to attend most meetings. But, the term “member” is often dictated by what the governing documents consider an association member. Members are usually only those who own the lots within the association. This means that an owner’s spouse, attorney, or tenant may not be allowed to attend HOA meetings.
Not all HOAs strictly enforce this rule. Some may even allow for it through the governing documents. As a result, some HOAs may allow guests to attend as long as they behave appropriately. This can foster a better sense of community among the residents. But, tenants do not legally have the right to attend community meetings.
Types of HOA Meetings and Who Can Attend Them
The nature of the meeting often dictates who can participate. While the rules may vary between states and HOAs, there are general guidelines for each type.
1. Board Meeting
Can members participate in HOA meetings? When homeowners ask this question, they are usually referring to standard board meetings. These meetings are the most common type of meeting and occur monthly or quarterly, depending on the HOA’s size. They usually exist to discuss routine community management. Topics range from evaluating property management work, dispute resolution, and maintenance progress tracking.
Board meetings are open to all members of the community. They can raise their questions and concerns during the open forum. The board is required to notify the members of these meetings. Depending on the governing documents and state law, the notification period is often around 7 to 30 days before the meeting date. Board members are also required to take minutes of these meetings which must be available to all members.
Apart from this, the HOA may invite select guests to the meeting. For example, they may need to involve a contractor to discuss a specific project. They may also invite local police representatives to handle specific agenda items. Often, these guests are only allowed to attend relevant parts of the HOA meeting.
2. Annual Meeting
Annual meetings occur every year and address the community’s big-picture concerns. Topics range from determining the annual budget, electing new board members, and announcing upcoming capital projects. HOA committees may also present reports during the annual meeting.
Annual meetings are open to all members of the community and relevant guests. The board must provide notice of the meeting at least 30 days prior. Moreover, they must also take minutes that are available to the community members.
3. Executive Session
The HOA will sometimes hold an executive session. Within these sessions, the participants discuss more confidential topics involving privileged or private information. For instance, the HOA may need to speak with a lawyer regarding ongoing lawsuits. The association may also discuss problems with delinquent homeowner accounts and staff issues. Once discussed, the board often votes on actions they must take. These votes are binding.
Given its nature, it’s no surprise that executive sessions are not open to all members. They are open exclusively to board members and relevant people the board invites. Moreover, the board often holds them after an open board meeting. But, the board can call for executive sessions to address appropriate topics at any time if the governing documents allow for it.
In addition, the board must keep detailed minutes of executive sessions. However, they are not available to the community members. The board must simply report that an executive session took place in the minutes of the open board meeting.
4. Committee Meeting
Large homeowners associations may create specialized committees to fulfill certain tasks or roles. For example, they may form an architectural review committee that reviews all architectural change requests. Some may even have a landscaping committee that takes charge of the community’s landscaping. Regardless, these committees often include several community members and one or more board members.
While these meetings discuss specific topics not relevant to everyone, they are still open to all community members and relevant guests. Committee meetings often have the same structure and requirements as an open board meeting. The HOA must inform the members of the committee meeting within 7-30 days prior. They must also take minutes.
5. Special or Emergency Meeting
The members of the homeowners association board may hold a special or emergency session. These are rare and only held when the board needs to make immediate decisions or actions. For example, a wildfire may quickly be approaching the community. As a result, the HOA must take immediate action to evacuate and limit the damage.
Emergency meetings often do not need to follow the normal guidelines of open board meetings. The board can hold them amongst themselves and does not need to send notices. They may also conduct these through calls, video calls, or email. But, the board can only call and hold them under the rules stated in the governing documents. Moreover, the board must still record the minutes of the meeting and make them available to members.
An Open Community Environment
Who can attend HOA meetings often depends on the governing documents and state law. It’s important for both community members and directors to understand the rules when it comes to meeting attendance. This way, the HOA can foster an open community environment and avoid potential conflict.
Elite Management Services offers world-class HOA management services to planned communities. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or get in touch with us online for a free proposal!