State laws and homeowners association governing documents mandate that the management of the association is conducted by the board of directors acting at properly noticed regular and/or special meetings at which a quorum of the directors is present. In addition, in the absence of an emergency situation, the directors are prohibited from discussing or taking action on any item of business that was not included on a written agenda for the meeting that was circulated to the association members with the notice of the meeting. A common issue that is addressed within the operations of a homeowners association is how members of the association can get a matter that is of concern to them included on the agenda for a board meeting in order for it to be acted upon by the association’s board of directors.
Because there may be provisions contained in an association’s bylaws and/or other policy statements that address the manner in which the agenda for a meeting of the association’s directors is prepared, the member should always start with reviewing the association’s governing documents to see what requirements, if any, are specified. Frequently, there will be a provision which states that a board member, managing agent, or staff member may take action to direct the Requests for Placement of a Matter on the Agenda for business on a future agenda. There may also be an established policy regarding the process for requesting agenda items that is circulated annually to homeowners along with other policy statements. Typical methods that are used to enable homeowner requests for placement of a Matter included on the agenda for a board meeting are: (1) submitting a written request to a designated staff member, property manager, officer or director; or (2) attending a board meeting and verbally calling the matter of concern to the attention of the directors during the open forum portion of the meeting.
A written request for inclusion of an item on the agenda for a board meeting should be submitted well in advance of the meeting in order to allow sufficient time for a decision to be made on inclusion of the item and for advance notice to the other members. The request should clearly state the substance of the matter that the member is requesting board action and why the member feels it is important for the board to consider the matter. Because there is no absolute right for members to have requested items included on the agenda for a board meeting, the ultimate decision relative to inclusion is left to the discretion of the board members or any other person who has been vested with the authority to prepare the agenda for a meeting.
As an alternative to submitting a written request for including a matter on the agenda for a board meeting, individual association members have the right to attend all open board meetings and to raise the matter of concern to them during the open forum portion of the meeting. Absent an emergency situation that necessitates immediate action by the directors, the discussion pertaining to matters raised by members during the open forum portion of the meeting is limited to brief responses and questions that may be raised by directors. If the directors feel that the matter should be acted upon by the directors, they may direct that the matter be placed on the agenda for formal action by the directors at a future board meeting.
Homeowners associations that do not have a written agenda policy should consider the adoption of one as they tend to enable homeowners to feel that they are connected to the association and have the ability to be heard. Such a policy should include a formal process for submitting written requests to have a matter included on the agenda for a board meeting and an explanation of the less formal procedure of attending an open board meeting and verbally raising the matter of concern during the period that is reserved for homeowner forum participation.