CCFJ asks: Are these HOA meeting rules “reasonable?”

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Does your homeowners’, condominium, or cooperative association operate transparently? Are Board meetings open to all owners to attend? Are Board and Annual Member meetings recorded? Are owners permitted to speak at meetings?

Over and over again, in response to criticism of HOAs, the industry trade group Community Associations Institute insist that:

  • Your HOA Board consists of neighborhood volunteers elected by neighbors
  • If you’re dissatisfied, get involved: attend meetings, volunteer to serve on the board, and elect a new Board.

 

Aside from the fact that millions of Americans reside in Association Governed Housing that is still under full or partial control of a developer (therefore the owners cannot elect a new board and cannot oust  board members appointed by the developer), there is also the common problem that, in reality, homeowner board members quite often do NOT want participation from homeowners.

HOA reform activist Jan Bergemann of Cyber Citizens for Justice (CCFJ) in Florida has provided a real-life example of a homeowners’ association that has created some crazy rules governing homeowner attendance at its meetings. Check out the link below.

 

CCJF Opinion letter by Jan Bergemann:

Source: http://www.ccfj.net//CCFJCTReasRules.htm

 

Here are some highlights:

1.1 C,D.  Notice that Association Members do NOT include all Owners, just the representatives of Neighborhood Associations. It is a common arrangement in larger planned communities to create a “Master Association” whose Board is made up of one member from each neighborhood, village, or voting district. Most often, that person is the President of the Neighborhood Association. The planned community is usually divided up based on phases of original construction. Essentially, homeowners at large don’t get to vote on matters at the Master Association level, even though decisions of the Master Association clearly affect all homeowners and residents in the HOA subdivision.

1.2 C (i) Note that only Neighborhood Association Members (representatives) have the right to speak at Board meetings. Parcel Owners can observe only, unless granted permission by the Board Chairperson. It’s the same as living with old-fashioned parents: Don’t speak unless you are spoken to.

1.2 C (vi.) Parcel Owners do not have the right to speak unless granted by the Board Chairperson. Then they get 3 minutes and cannot ask questions. That’s right, you can only make statements, because, why should the Board be expected to answer questions?

1.4 A- D. Board of Directors may fine any person who fails to comply with these rules. They can take legal action and physically remove any person from a meeting, using law enforcement if necessary. Talk about major deterrents to attendance at HOA meetings. Who in their right mind wants to risk being fined, sued, or taken away by a police officer?

Rules regarding Audio and Video Recording of meetings:

24 hour notice to record, cannot live stream the meeting, cannot post online. If you violate this rule you can be fined $100 per incident or the HOA can seek Injunctive Relief (sue you)! So much for Free Speech in America. Apparently this HOA Board believes that the First Amendment need not apply to private organizations such as HOAs.

 

More information on civil liberties in your HOA.

https://independentamericancommunities.com/2016/05/29/hoa-laws-and-free-speech-right-to-know/

https://independentamericancommunities.com/2015/12/28/minnesota-judge-upholds-free-speech-in-hoas/

Free Speech in HOAs: protected in NJ, not in FL?

https://independentamericancommunities.com/2015/07/04/homeowners-associations-and-the-first-amendment-are-your-5-freedoms-guaranteed/

 

 

 


2 thoughts on “CCFJ asks: Are these HOA meeting rules “reasonable?”

  1. Holy Grail explanation for Poor Condo Docs (Sections from a blog of mine)

    The issue is that all original governing documents are created by lawyers for developers; some are excellent but unfortunately the majority are designed to benefit the developer, full of legalese, practically impossible for the average Owner to understand and certainly cannot be considered quality governing documents.

    Proactive Boards have prudently replaced the original documents (namely by-law(s)) by using what their condo lawyer suggested and supplied. The typical lawyer supplied (boiler plate) documents will solve some issues but they continue to be difficult to understand and rather than benefiting the developer, the documents tends to give the Board of Directors unfettered powers which should be unacceptable for all Owners.

    Holy Grail explanation for Poor Condo Docs – by a non-conflicted lawyer

    “There is a wide spectrum of condo corporations. At one end of the spectrum are condo corporations involving many hundreds of units either in a high rise configuration or spread out in a townhouse complex? At the other end of the spectrum are condo corporations with relatively very few units. When a lawyer is retained to assist in the drafting of documents, there is a tendency to draft the “safest” (which is usually the easiest) to cover the spectrum. This translates into vesting a Board with maximum unfettered powers.

    This unfettered powers approach might be suitable for condo corporations with large numbers of units in the modest to mid price range. At the far end of smaller condo corporations with high priced units with a majority of resident owners it is to be expected as well as reasonable that owners in this type of a condo corporation would want to have more “input” into the management decisions in particular if they involve the units.”

    Rino Stradiotto QC – Bio below

    Lead owner of overseeing the drafting of Simcoe Condominium Corporation #408 amalgamated Declaration and By-law,
    Retired Partner from Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) LLP,
    Received the Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Distinguished Service,
    Appointed Queen’s Counsel,
    Inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers,
    Awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada’s prestigious Law Society MedalPassed and
    President of the Medico-Legal Society and the Advocates Society.

    The only comment of Rino’s which I do not agree with is the suggestion that maybe only higher priced units in smaller Corporations would want to have more “input” into the management decisions. I believe all Owners, regardless of size or value would like to have more “input”.

    Like

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