HOA board meetings need to be productive. Important community and homeowner matters are discussed and debated, and decisions of consequence are made during these meetings. It’s hard to run a successful HOA board without good board meetings.
Drumming up attendance is important. Sticking to the meeting agenda is important. Perhaps most important, however, are the meeting minutes. The minutes are a record of what was discussed and decided at the meeting. People who did not attend the meeting will use the minutes to stay involved, and those minutes will be referred to going forward any time action items are completed or further discussion is warranted around a specific topic or a recurring theme.
Official board meeting minutes serve as a record that reflects the significant decisions that impact community members. These minutes are a historical record and a source of relevant information to the entire HOA community.
You need good meeting minutes. Invest whatever resources are necessary to ensure the meeting is captured accurately and in detail within those minutes. Good board meeting minutes can reduce potential litigation risks for HOA board members, as minutes might one day be used as evidence in the event of a legal claim.
Here’s how you can make your HOA board meeting minutes count.
Basic Information about HOA Meeting Minutes
If you’ve never taken or read meeting minutes before, you might not even understand how they’re structured. Look at past minutes from former meetings. You’ll see that there’s usually a header describing the meeting and listing the date and time. Then, there is a documented call to order and a transcription of the meeting’s topics, usually with subheadings and bullet points. While some HOAs may want a word-for-word transcription, that’s usually not necessary. A concise summary in paragraphs or bullets that gets the pertinent information across will do, as long as it’s detailed and accurate.
Generally, the board secretary will be responsible for taking minutes, recording the events of the meeting, and distributing the completed minutes that the board will need to vote to accept. However, anyone can be appointed as the person who will take minutes during a meeting.
What’s Included in HOA Board Meeting Minutes?
To craft board meeting minutes that count, you want to provide all of the required information and none of the extra or superfluous discussion that might have taken place during the meeting. Good minutes will be clear, concise, and easy to read. Your community members should be able to quickly understand what board actions were taken and approved.
Here are the general items that your meeting minutes must include:
- Name of the HOA. This should be in the header and set apart from the general meeting information that comes below it.
- Date, time and location of the meeting.
- Attendance. Always list the names of HOA board of directors and officers who are present at the meeting. You’ll also want to list the board members and officers who are not present. If any special guests are in attendance who will be speaking, such as special committee chairs, you’ll want to list those names as well.
- Note whether or not a quorum was achieved. Your bylaws will likely require a quorum for votes to be held and binding.
- All board actions were discussed and decided throughout the meeting.
- The signature of the board secretary or another official designated to sign HOA documents.
- Supporting documentation (attached to the minutes), as applicable. This might be a budget, financials, or other committee reports that were presented and approved during the meeting.
The board secretary is responsible for recording and certifying the minutes, unless another person is designated. All board members have an interest in reading, editing, and approving the minutes as presented, however. Remember that all of the board directors and officers may be held liable if the minutes are falsified or embellished.
After the meeting, the minutes should be made available to all HOA members. Some HOAs choose to mail or email the minutes to members after the meeting. A printed copy of the meeting minutes should be kept in the HOA’s corporate records, and an electronic copy should also be stored.
Tips for Taking Better Minutes at your HOA Board Meeting
It’s essential to take good meeting minutes because these notes become a legal document of the association. They can be requested by outside parties and used in a court of law.
When taking minutes, think about whether they’d hold up in court. Do they provide the necessary information accurately? Do they reflect what was discussed and decided at the meeting? They may need to explain or document a decision later.
Here are some good best practices to follow when you’re taking meeting minutes for your HOA board:
- Use the agenda. Every board meeting should begin with an agenda, which is shared with homeowners in advance of the meeting. You can use the agenda to map out your minutes and structure the notes you take.
- Always take attendance. Have a sign-in sheet so homeowners can report that they were there. You may not want to list the name of every attendee in the minutes; you really only need to reference board members, officers, and speakers. But, having the sign-in sheet will help you document who was present.
- Be brief and concise. You don’t have to provide a word-for-word report. It will be difficult for the relevant information to stand out.
- Limit minutes to about two pages unless you have a particularly long meeting which requires extra note taking.
- Be objective. This is not the time to share opinions or thoughts of your own. Nothing editorial should show up in the minutes; they should simply reflect the discussion.
- Ask for clarification if needed. You want to get it right.
Always use a template for each meeting so your minutes stay clean and consistent. We also recommend that you prepare the minutes immediately after the meeting so all the information is fresh.
If you’d like some help, we have worked with a number of associations to produce better minutes.