Open meetings are essential for HOA communities because they give all members the opportunity to get involved, regardless of whether they are on the board. This lets homeowners know that their voice is being heard and they can become more aware of topics regarding the management of the community. However, in order to remain productive, certain rules and expectations should be set.
- Present concerns or topics for discussion in writing ahead of time so that they can be included on the agenda for the next meeting. Open forums are a great way for members to express their views, but nothing can be voted on until it is on the agenda so that it can be deliberated by the board.
- Maintain a consistent routine. Make each meeting follow the same general format so that members know what to expect. Conduct official business first before opening the floor for comments from homeowners so that they are able to hear debate on issues before sharing their opinions. Enforce a time limit so that each person is given equal time to speak and no one dominates the meeting.
- Post notification about upcoming meetings at least 48 hours in advance so that members have time to make arrangements to attend. Notices should be placed in visible locations and include the time, date, and location of the meeting. Encourage HOA management, board members, and homeowners to attend so they are more informed and involved in the management of the community.
- Keep a professional environment and demeanor throughout the meeting. Everyone should be treated respectfully and this precedent should be set from the start. Emotions can run high on certain topics so try to stay focused and on point. Thank members for sharing their concerns or opinions and let them know that they will be taken into consideration. The board cannot vote on matters brought up in the open forum.
- Remain transparent and open when discussing budgets, repairs, projects, rules and regulations, and other factors that impact the community and its members. Homeowners should have access to data as outlined by HOA regulations. Letting them know exactly how funds are being spent can ease pushback.
Running an organized and structured meeting can enhance productivity and drive results. The more homeowners, boards, and management work together, the more peaceable living they can achieve. Before conducting meetings, ensure you have reviewed the regulations set forth by your state or HOA.