No doubt we have been in unchartered waters for the past few weeks now. Boards have been uncertain about how, when and where they can hold board meetings. Unit owners are upset that they have heard that their Board is actually having meetings that they cannot attend. Decisions are being made at meetings that are not properly noticed. No doubt decisions and votes are being made by e-mail, even though the statute clearly prohibits it.
Despite the extraordinary powers given to Boards under the emergency powers statute, there are a few things that remain clear;
- Board meetings must still be noticed;
- Unit owners have the right to attend board meetings;
- Board members still cannot vote by e-mail;
- Board members have the right to appear at Board meetings via telephone, real-time videoconferencing, or similar real-time electronic or video communication and it counts toward a quorum, and such member may vote as if physically present. A speaker must be used so that the conversation of such members may be heard by the board or committee members attending in person as well as by any unit owners present at a meeting.
- Unit owners who are not on the Board have no right to attend their Board meeting via the same technology that Board members get to use.
So what needs fixing? Obviously, in light of recent events, all board meetings and unit owner meetings must be made available to the owners through technology. Nobody should be forced to attend a meeting in person if board members are not forced. . Now, before anyone starts yelling that this is impossible…… it isn’t. There was pushback about having a mandatory website that would hold all of the association’s records. We learned it works great. There was pushback when it came to on-line voting. We learned it works great.
For me however, these past few weeks have been an incredible learning experience. I have had the joy and honor of continuing to teach the Board Certification and Legal Update seminars. There are 130 people on-line at one time! We are on-line for three hours. It works perfectly. And after my part is over, everyone who wants to be heard gets to be heard. Don’t tell me Board meetings can’t be run the same way. They can. Easily. Far fewer people typically attend a board meeting.
So, it’s clear that it’s now time for unit owners to get the same rights as board members do and have the opportunity to appear at their Board and unit owner meetings through the use of technology. If you still choose to attend in person, even better. The choice should be yours.