In homeowners associations, the board regularly convenes meetings to discuss agenda items and vote. To record what transpires at these meetings, it is imperative to take HOA board meeting minutes. But, what is the process for doing so?
What Are HOA Board Meeting Minutes?
Homeowners associations are governed by a set of board members. These board members hold regular meetings to talk about community issues and vote on action items. This can include anything from budget presentations and approval to the status of an ongoing renovation project. During these meetings, someone takes minutes, which is essentially a written record of the discussions and decisions made during the meeting.
Why Learn How to Take Minutes at a Board Meeting?
Meeting minutes are a critical part of board meetings, whether in the context of a homeowners association or any other organization. Many states, like California, even make it mandatory for associations to record HOA board meeting minutes.
Apart from being a requirement in most states and governing documents, though, meeting minutes serve many purposes. Meeting minutes act as a record of what happened during the meeting, so you can easily look back on the discussions and decisions made. This makes it easy to resolve disputes based on misunderstandings or confusion.
Meeting minutes also offer legal protection to the association and its board. If an HOA finds itself the recipient of a lawsuit due to a dispute or accusation, meeting minutes can serve as proof of the board’s grounded decision-making process.
Additionally, meeting minutes guide future board members. Through these minutes, future board members can review past actions and mistakes of the board, making their own decision-making process smoother.
Who Is in Charge of Writing Board Meeting Minutes?
In most homeowners associations, the board secretary takes on the task of writing HOA board meeting minutes. The secretary can, however, usually assign the job to someone else. But, keep in mind that the secretary must still review the meeting minutes and give their approval.
How to Take Meeting Minutes: What to Include
Many associations make the mistake of writing the minutes as if it were a transcript, with word-for-word dialogue and unnecessary comments. But, this is not the proper way of taking minutes of a board meeting. There are certain items that you should and should not include in your HOA board meeting minutes.
Generally speaking, the items you should include in your minutes are the ones that appear on the agenda. This is because board members can’t really discuss or vote on items that aren’t on the agenda. Here are the items you must include in your board meeting minutes:
- Meeting date
- Meeting time
- What time the meeting was called to order and by whom
- Names of present and absent board members
- Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, including any amendments or rectifications
- Additions to the agenda
- Establishing a quorum
- Financial report or presentation
- Any motions proposed and what they are, who proposed them, and who seconded them
- Any voting that took place, including the results and those who voted for or against the item
- What actions were taken
- Any resolutions or decisions made
- Unfinished business
- New business
- Open forum discussion
- The date and time of the next board meeting
- Adjournment time
What should not be included in meeting minutes?
- Personal comments
- Irrelevant discussions
- Word-for-word dialogue
How to Write Minutes for a Board Meeting
Taking down meeting minutes can be a daunting task if you have never done it before. There are some steps that you can follow, though, to make the process easier. Here’s how to write up meeting minutes for a board meeting:
1. Prepare for the Board Meeting
Not all homeowners associations use the same format for meeting minutes. Each one has its own style or method of recording. If you don’t know where to begin, consider talking to your board president about the proper format to use. You can also seek help from the person who previously occupied your board position.
In addition, some governing documents contain basic guidelines for how to write board meeting minutes. If there is no specific format, you can use past minutes as a basis. You can also work with other board members to come up with a format or use your own. Just make sure it’s understandable and structured.
2. Use the Agenda as a Guide
Every board meeting will have an agenda — a list of items the board will discuss and vote on. Since the agenda already contains the expected events of the meeting, you can use it as an outline for your minutes. Agendas usually already follow a structure, so it will be much easier for you to use it as a starting point. Type in or write the agenda, and then fill in the details of what motions were taken, who seconded them, and what actions were made.
3. Write Objectively
Although this is an obvious one, we can’t stress it enough. It is imperative to always write your HOA board meeting minutes using an objective tone.
Sure, you may discuss some controversial topics during the meeting, but that does not mean you should include them in your minutes. If they are related to the agenda, then try to summarize as much as possible. Exclude any emotional outbursts or deliveries. In other words, you should only and always stick to the facts.
4. Ask for Clarification
Taking meeting minutes can come as a challenge since you need to simultaneously listen to what’s happening and jot down the important details. And, let’s face it, not everyone has lightning-fast typing or writing skills, so you are bound to miss a few key points.
When that happens, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Don’t get creative or imaginative and fill in the blanks yourself. It is also best to clarify certain points immediately instead of after the meeting. This way, the discussions and decisions are still fresh on everyone’s minds.
5. Make Edits If Necessary
If you feel like your HOA board meeting minutes need a little tweaking, you can certainly make edits. Remove any unnecessary details, such as personal commentary or chitchat, and make sure the format is understandable. Proofread the copy as well to make sure there are no typos or parts that don’t make sense. If you are new to this, you will probably need help from your fellow board members or your HOA manager.
6. Distribute the Board Minutes
Board members should always keep homeowners in the loop. Even though a portion of the board meetings is typically open to all owners, not everyone has time to actually show up. Most members stay informed through meeting minutes.
As such, you should make sure to distribute the meeting minutes within a reasonable amount of time. Some associations do this via email or in-person. Others post them up on their HOA website. Make sure to check your state laws and governing documents on any provisions concerning the distribution of meeting minutes.
7. Save Digital and Physical Copies
Meeting minutes are important tools in HOA management, so you shouldn’t keep only a single copy. In addition to making and storing physical copies of the minutes, it is worth taking the time to do the same digitally. Paper records can deteriorate or fade over time. But, digital copies can last forever and are also easier to distribute, store, and copy.
Can You Record HOA Board Meetings?
You may wonder whether it is possible, or even permitted, to record board meetings using an audio or video recorder. The answer, though, isn’t quite simple.
In some states, homeowners associations can’t prohibit members from recording board meetings. Though, HOAs can place reasonable restrictions such as how far the camera should be from any person.
In states where such provisions don’t exist, though, HOAs should look to their governing documents. Usually, only board members have a right to record board meetings. If you wish to record your meetings to use as a guide for taking minutes, make sure to destroy the tape afterward. The very existence of such a recording can put the association at risk of liability.
HOA Board Meeting Minutes Template
If you are still having trouble picturing what your minutes should look like, use the sample of minutes of meeting below:
How to Write Minutes of a Meeting the Right Way
Taking meeting minutes is not always fun, but it remains a necessary part of board meetings. Just remember to write them with objectivity, clarity, and accuracy in mind. Using these steps and our helpful template, recording HOA board meeting minutes will be a breeze.
Many associations outsource minutes-taking to an HOA management company. If you wish to do the same, start looking for the best one in your location using our online directory.
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