By Will Van Vactor, J.D.
Can't think of any good reason to attend your HOA meeting? Think again.
Why It's in Homeowners' Interest to Attend HOA Meetings
Annual HOA meetings usually address topics that may sound dry as dust to you, as a homeowner. These might include the association's budget, election of directors, and voting on amendments to the HOAs governing documents. The meetings can also address other issues the board believes need the attention of the entire membership.
Attending the annual meeting is nevertheless important (and may be more interesting than you expect.) The decisions being made may, after all, directly impact your quality of life and the value of your property.
For instance, the new budget may require higher assessments in order to make a major repair or upgrade. Homeowners who don't want their dues to go up or don’t believe the changes are necessary will want to attend the annual meeting and make their voices heard before a decision is made. (Or if you’re in favor of the special assessment and its use, you’ll want to make sure the homeowners in opposition don’t drown out your position.)
Likewise, a homeowner may want to make sure directors are elected to the board who will make good decisions for the community as a whole, as opposed to decisions that benefit his or her friends.
Although major issues are often reserved for the annual meeting, important topics and issues may still be discussed at regular board meetings. These topics and issues often include reports from the HOA treasurer and property manager, and discussion of any remodel or new construction proposed by other community members. The board may also discuss homeowner complaints and suggestions that lead to rule amendments related to what you can and can’t do with your home.
Board meetings are typically open to all members of the HOA. They’re often concluded, though, with the board going into an “executive session,” which is closed to the general membership. Topics discussed in executive sessions may include legal matters, employment issues, and contract negotiations. Some states, such as Oregon, limit the topics that can be discussed in executive sessions.
Remember, whether a decision is made at a board meeting or annual meeting, these rules must be followed, even if you weren’t present. When a community is heavily involved in meetings and the decisions that are made, those decisions tend to better reflect what the community as a whole desires, not what a few board members want.