Many associations schedule their annual homeowners meeting in October and there will be talk of making a quorum, but what does that really mean?
A quorum is the minimum number of owners who must be at a meeting before business can be transacted. Business can include routine matters like passing a new budget or a special vote to modify the bylaws. It’s in the boards best interest, and often required by the covenants to advertise what is on the agenda at the board meeting and why it is important to attend. State law tells us what that minimum number is for our association. It’s relatively low, but we still have a tough time getting to it. It’s a common problem in many associations.
Meetings that don’t have a quorum must be adjourned and rescheduled at a later date. This costs the association money and creates more work. And, achieving a quorum at a second meeting—if we couldn’t get one the first time—is even harder.
So, why bother to try again? Because the board is legally obligated to conduct an annual meeting. It’s an important part of conducting association business. During the annual meeting, new board members are elected, and the coming year’s budget is presented to the homeowners for approval. No quorum—no election, no budget. This means the current directors will have to continue serving until an election can be conducted. It also means that last year’s budget will remain in effect until a valid meeting (one with a quorum) can be held to approve a new budget.
Good news: You can be “at” a meeting and across the country at the same time by signing a proxy, that’s how you assign your vote, in writing, to another person. The association’s governing documents outline who the proxy can be. Typically, it is the board president, treasurer, or community association manger. Proxies count toward the quorum, so they’re very important to the association.
We ask you to complete a proxy form, even if you plan to attend the meeting. That’s just in case something comes up that prevents you from attending. And, when you do attend the meeting, your proxy will be returned to you.
Because proxies are so important to achieving a quorum, you may find us knocking on your door, calling on the phone, or even stopping you in the common areas asking you to sign a proxy form. We’ll do anything to achieve a quorum. Without it, we can’t do business, and eventually that affects you, the homeowner.
On the flip side, if you are a board member trying to make sure you achieve a quorum at your meeting, there are ways to improve your chances of achieving enough attendance to make a quorum. Some associations conduct their meeting before a community event or give neighbors an opportunity to fill out a proxy form at the community event. Others encourage member participation by raffling off doors prizes at the meeting to attendees.
Owners have a responsibility to vote on community issues. Understanding the significance of a quorum helps all homeowners be better neighbors.
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Dawn Bauman, Senior Vice President of Government & Public Affairs. As CAI’s lead advocate for federal and state legislative and regulatory affairs, Dawn works with volunteer leaders throughout the country serving on CAI legislative action and government affairs committees to advocate for strong and sensible public policy for America’s community associations.