Millie's Motion At The Annual HOA MeetingWritten By: Richard Thompson
But wait Millie, a longtime resident, rises to her feet and says "Madam President, Id like to propose a motion to amend the governing documents to eliminate renters. Im sick and tired of all the coming and going and lack of regard for us owners."
The president responds, "Millie, Ive had the same concerns. Do I hear a second?" A second comes from the back of the room and soon a lively discussion ensues about the pros and cons of renters.
Bill comments "This all seems a bit hasty and arent there federal Fair Housing regulations to consider?"
Mary, who rents her unit out, says "I just signed a one year lease with my tenant. What do you expect me do now? Besides, I bought the unit so I could rent it out. There were no restrictions against it."
Joe jumps to his feet, "Who cares? We need to get rid of those people. Lets change the rules and moveem out"
After much haranguing and gnashing of teeth, a vote is called for and a majority of 10 of the 19 present plus another 40 proxies held by the board president vote to eliminate rentals.
Many believe that the Annual Meeting is a place that the members can be heard and the system changed. While thats true to an extent, certain aspects of it must be handled properly to protect the rights of all members, particularly the ones that arent present. For that reason, no motions should be entertained that are not on the Agenda which has been distributed with the Annual Meeting Notice to all members. If HOA amendments or policy is to be voted on, all members must be informed ahead of time so they can participate in the discussion. Allowing someone to make spontaneous motions disenfranchises members that arent at the meeting. Its up to the board president to call such motions "out of order".
The easiest way to head off such spontaneity is to advise all members prior to the meeting when the Annual Meeting Agenda is being compiled and ask for any proposed amendments or policy changes by such and such a deadline. Add further that no motions can be entertained at the meeting itself unless they are on the Agenda and explained in enough detail so that all members understand what they are and the implications. Proposed amendments should always be reviewed by the attorney prior to voting.
Restricting motions does not mean that members are not allowed to speak their mind. Free speech helps the members to winnow through issues Encouraging this kind of discussion is good.
However, the proper response to Millies Motion should have been "Thank you for your suggestion Millie. Why dont you circulate a petition to all the members to see if there is strong support for restricting rentals? If there is, we can either hold a special meeting or vote on it at the next Annual Meeting. Does anyone else have anything they want to discuss before we move on to elections?"
Amending the governing documents or policy should never be done on the spur of the moment. There are few issues that are so urgent that cant wait for proper review and feedback by all members. If confronted by a Millies Motion situation, help guide the process to a thoughtful conclusion.
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