Ask The HOA Expert

Question: Can a majority of owners present at an annual meeting override what the board has done or direct it by vote to do something? If not, what should the president’s response to the effort be?

Answer: The answer is a definite qualified “maybe”. Generally speaking, the board is authorized to interpret the governing documents and enact rules and resolutions that are in keeping with them. However, if there is a clear majority of owners that disagrees with a board policy, the annual meeting is the place to discuss, vote and resolve the matter. The issue should be included in the agenda and noticed to all the owners so that all are allowed to participate in the discussion.

Question: When a question or series of email questions is directed to “the board”, is it inappropriate for the president to provide answers without prior consultation with other board members?

Answer: It is appropriate for the president to respond to emails on behalf of the board. But the response should be run by the board first to keep them in the loop. The president should put a deadline of 24-48 hours for directors to give input.

An important consideration in responding to emails at all is whether it is request for board action, constructive criticism or outright intimidation. Constructive criticism may not be accurate, but it is heartfelt so should be acknowledged with grace. There is no need to respond to intimidation. Bullies love resistance. Special requests should be handled at board meetings unless there is an emergency. Non-emergency maintenance requests should be addressed within one to two weeks.

Question: When a resident with an explosive temper directs an inaccurate email to the entire community intending to undermine the board, is it appropriate for the president to respond by email with “the facts”? Would doing so be regarded as discouraging communications from other owners? Email questions are always answered promptly and in friendly, non-combative terms by our president. Our owners are urged to attend board meetings and speak freely.

Answer: It’s appropriate to circulate an email expressing concern of the “rumor mill” that is spreading misinformation to nip it in the bud. Waiting weeks to respond at a board meeting will give the unchallenged misinformation the appearance of legitimacy. But do not respond to “email bombs”. Continue the practice of encouraging open communication at meetings. Maintain the high road.

Question: Should the president’s role be strictly limited to organizing and chairing Board and Annual Meetings?

Answer: The president has the responsibility to supervise HOA business between meetings. This means making decisions that are in keeping with the governing documents, board policy and the approved budget. The president does not have authority to approve matters outside this framework unless there is an emergency. If there is a property manager, the president is responsible to oversee the manager’s activity.

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