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Subject: Work Shops for board
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BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/12/2019 4:37 AM  
Our board does all business by email. It gets very confusing and lacks understanding the true issues.
Email gets posted to old ones that get lost or unopened.
Is there an easier way to conduct business with out an actual open board meeting?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2767


07/12/2019 5:11 AM  
If you're asking about workshops, I suggest visiting the Community Associations Institute (CAI) website. This is an organization of HOAs and various business that serve them, (e.g. property management companies). They also lobby in state and federal legislatures for HOAs, although there has been controversy as to whether they're more loyal to the businesses than the HOAs.

For my part, I like them because of their educational materials. There are lots of books, brochures and even webinars on all sorts of topics, from how to select a property management company to interpreting a reserve study. You can also check if there's a local chapter in your area - the one in my area sponsors workshops on assorted subjects and it's good for networking with other HOA board members in your area.

Now, regarding your HOA's use of emails - I do not like the idea of doing EVERYTHING by email. You already see a few problems with emails getting lost or people not reading them, but the bigger problem is transparency. This is not just the board members' money - this is the homeowners' money, and your board has to be willing to conduct its business in open meetings so everyone can see and hear what's being said. If you don't have space in your community where one can be held, I suggest you look around to see if you can rent a space - start with your local library.

From there, set an agenda every month and publish it, so other homeowners can decide if they want to attend. I believe part of the agenda should include a resident forum where homeowners get to sound off on various issues. By the way, CAI has information on how to run an effective board meeting so you're not there all night or all day. Attending meetings is part of the job of being a board member, so I don't want to hear "but I/we're too busy." Make the time to attend or get off the board and do something else.

There are other conversations on this website about emails, so you may want to read a few to see how other HOAs handle it - along with the problems. In general, here are my suggestions:

1 - set up a formal email policy. Emails are Association property and if you aren't keeping track of them and the association gets sued, you will be in A LOT of trouble if you can't show what was sent and what was said. Talk to your association attorney and master insurance carrier for suggestions on what the policy should contain so you're compliant with state law. This will also include permanant storage of some of those emails, especially the ones concerning the budget and legal matters.

2 - all board members should have an account reserved exclusively for association business. Right now, those emails are probably getting mixed in in individual personal accounts, which explains why stuff is being lost. When you have ONE spot, you can see everything.

3 - One email account could be set up for use by homeowners. This is where they can send the board questions, make comments, lodge complaints, etc., but if you have a property manager, issues regarding maintenance, individual accounts should be sent to him or her (the property manager should be preserving those emails).

4 - your policy should state the board will not respond to anonymous letters, whether they're sent via email, fax, snail mail, etc. All emails should receive an acknowlegement of receipt, which you can set up for automatic replies. Note this isnt the same as "we will do X" immediately - It's ok to do some research before you respond, but the homeowner should have some sort of idea when that will occur, say 3-5 working days.

5 - since emails are official Association business, that means homeowners will be able to request copies, so your email policy should address this. In fact, place the email/fax/text policy in your document retention policy. Don't have one? Better establish one immediately - talk to your attorney and association insurance about that.

Others on this site will chime in with their own thoughts and suggestions - read them and consider them carefully to see what could be adapted to your community. Good luck!
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/12/2019 7:47 AM  
Are HOA boards in IL required to conduct association business in board meetings open to Owners? If so, why does your board ignore the law?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8881


07/12/2019 7:59 AM  
Our association has an email address like [email protected] All members of the BOD have access to this account. We discuss most issues via Email and decide how we are going to respond. Some issues get sent to the right person without any discussion such as to our landscaper concerning a broken sprinkler system.

We conduct most of our association business via Email and phone. The BOD only meets a few times a year.

The above poster had some good recommendations especially for BOD Members to set up an account for BOD business alone. I did not and that was a mistake.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2767


07/12/2019 1:36 PM  
Another reason to have a dedicated account is that it's easier and faster to retrieve messages related to specific issues. If association emails are mixed in with personal emails and there's a lawsuit, you might be ordered to make your computer available for the opposition to go through the hard drive to hunt for all of them (because you may accidentally on purpose fail to provide everything.

Including the ones where you said some nasty things about various ones.

And do you really want the opponents to see emails about your Tinder or Grinder(!) account???


KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/12/2019 8:00 PM  
needs to tell us what the purpose of these "workshops" are. Are they to attempt to avoid some sort of open meeting requirements in IL?
PestY


Posts:0


07/13/2019 6:29 AM  
? 'ya think ?
AugustinD


Posts:2051


07/13/2019 7:27 AM  
Posted By BradT4 on 07/12/2019 4:37 AM
Our board does all business by email.


Illinois HOA/condo law requires all board meetings to be open to any member, with a few exceptions. The exceptions are when any of the following are to be discussed: certain litigation; certain contractor issues; certain employee issues; rule violations by owners; attorney is giving advice to Board. Interesting, once discussion is complete, any vote resulting from the discussion has to be conducted at a meeting open to any member.

For details on the exceptions, see 765 ILCS 160/1-40 and 765 ILCS 605/18, as linked below:
http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=076501600HArt%2E+1&ActID=3273&ChapterID=62&SeqStart=100000&SeqEnd=1831250

and

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2200&ChapterID=62
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/13/2019 8:46 AM  
Thanks for the citation, Augustine. These exceptions to open meeting ar similar to CA's, bu even more owners friendly, it seems to me.

It's pretty clear that boards in IL cannot hide behind "workshops" to conduct association business in secret. It's an old ploy.
Wonder if we'll hear from Brad again....
BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/13/2019 11:36 AM  
SheliaH, Thanks so much for your time in writing a detailed response.
I did not give much information about myself as I am now noticing others wondering what kind of an operation we have here in Illinois. So Am I!
That is why I came to this site, I do not like the way business is being conducted and I am a first time board member since mid May.
The internet is full of advice and much of it is false. I have gone to the Illinois legislature site and read through most of it for common interest HOA's. Unfortunately what is said in legal terms could be said in about one fourth of the way it is written.
I put my nomination in to the board because I see many things that need to improve and there were 2 openings. With no one else running, I was truly not elected but appointed and also accepted the treasurer job. That may have been a mistake.
With no help or advice on how to be a board member or do the treasurer job, I have been concentrating on finding out how.
Since becoming a board member (not yet 2 months) I have created quite a stir for our current president. He has accused me of "Flooding the internet with too much information to prevent business from being conducted" and that the board has been in "chaos" ever since I became a member.
We have lived in our town home for almost 5 years and became owners in early 2018. During that time I have become aware of the many problems that are costing the HOA a lot of money and there is a lot to be done that has been either ignored or simply left to the incompetence of many contractors doing the same thing over and over and is not fixing the issues.
I have 40 plus years in the construction field and feel that I bring to the board much needed experience in resolving many of the current issues.
I certainly do not want to be breaking the law and if the way we are currently doing business by email, such as voting to allow the extension of patios without the entire membership voting about it, then that is something I will have to address with the board and just stop voting.
One person in suggested that we should at least have an email account where all of our conversations can be found. I like that idea.
Before becoming a board member I became friends with many of the residents who have my email and now I am getting questions from them that pertain to the HOA.
One of our main problems that I realized existed years ago is how our property manager relates to our owners. I have dealt with it and many others have too. It is an ongoing issue with either unresponsive or incorrect information from the manager who seems to back up the contractors she hires instead of protecting the owners.
"Good Luck" is right, I will need it.
BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/13/2019 11:42 AM  
Thank you for your input JohnC46, I need all the help I can get.
New board member since mid May. Yikes!
BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/13/2019 11:53 AM  
KerryL1 thank you for responding.
I am a new 1st time board member since mid May and I am wondering just that.
I know that some Illinois law changes just recently made it a little easier to conduct some business without an open meeting but that no voting is allowed. I believe that too much of that is going on through email.
I am researching Il law and that is like reading a novel that should have taken 1/4 of the words to explain.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/13/2019 4:20 PM  
I can see why you're overwhelmed, Brad. But please read Augustin's reply. the laws governing your HOA are cited and barely ANY HOA business can be conducted by email by HOA boards. This is similar to many other states like CA, VA, FL, etc. they are called "open meeting" states.

JohnC of SC's board can conduct business online as his state lets them.

It's not that the whole membership might have to vote of giving (or sell) some common areas to an Owner for his use, it's that the board should not vote online at all!
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/13/2019 6:49 PM  
You may not know this, brad, but most states won't let board take action without a meeting (vote online) unless all directors af free with th motion. If you feel you board is breaking the law by having these secret meetings, you can refuse to vote. Or, especially in the case of king away the common area to an individual, vote no. This latter vote will help protect you IF this passes and the board implements it and some Owners takes you all to court.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2767


07/14/2019 5:39 AM  
Aha, you're a change agent! Good for you! This president is mad at you because he's been able to do whatever for years and now someone's calling him on his BS. He knows he can't just toss you off the board - the homeowners will have to be the ones to either vote you out or recall you. You didn't say how many are on your board, but I suspect the rest have just gone along with this president and won't say anything (lest people call THEM out)!

As for the property manager, remember she works for the association - if she's not supervising these contractors properly, it may be time to have a come to Jesus meeting with her (or toss her out too).

You say several residents are now asking questions about the HOA and that's good because you will need their support in order to get real change. To be honest, THEY'RE the real problem because they've let this go on and should have put a stop to it years ago. Look around at any conversation on this website and you will see the underlying problem is always apathy. People buy a home in a HOA and figure someone else will do the dirty work in keeping it going, so as long as assessments don't go up, they could care less about anything else. This is how you get rouge board members and then you have to work to get rid of them.

Now that you know what the state law is, I'd go to the Illinois legislative website, copy that portion of the statute (or cut and paste what AugustineD posted) and put THAT in an email to your colleagues. If the president thinks you're "flooding the internet with too much information" (by the way, there is no such thing), tell him he's putting himself and the rest of the board at risk for personal liability if someone gets pissed off enough to file a lawsuit or complain to your consmer protection division.

While you're working through this open meeting business, keep the homeowners informed as best you can, telling them they get involved to turn this around. All of them need to be speaking to ALL the board members (and emailing them), demanding open meetings and if they don't get them, they need to dig up their documents and read them to find out how to call a special meeting and then do it. if you can have it on the property, fine, but if you'll need to get a meeting space somewhere, everyone can chip in the rental fee and do that. This special meeting should discuss the board's behavior up to this point and if you get enough homeowners there, they should consider holding a recall vote. That will mean others will have to step up and volunteer if the others aren't sacked.

You will find a lot of information about recalls on this site, so read a few conversations to see how that went. Nearly everyone here has gone through it, and you need to put together a plan on what you'll need to tackle. You may not even need the recall - usually, the homeowners elect the board and the board members choose officers from among themselves. This may scare the others into sacking the president from that spot and pick someone else (it may be you).

"Go out there and get in the way. Get in trouble, get in necessary trouble and make some noise." –John Lewis, U.S. Congressman, Georgia

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8881


07/14/2019 10:15 AM  
Shelia

Earlier Brad said he was appointed to the BOD. If so, the BOD alone can remove him. He may have to walk slowly to get things done.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/14/2019 11:22 AM  
Thanks for the John Lewis cite, Sheila. It's inspirational for me these days. I had to not seek reelection because the Board here was headed so badly in the wrong direction. Other than voting against, this being on record re: poor policy & expenditures, once the Board a has approved those things, directors should not get in the way or make noise.

Now off the board, I with others are doing as Lewis advises. This includes letters to Owners. We hope to get a majority of us "good guys" on the Board in the October elections. Re: one meetings, this board is putting everything possible in executive session under the guise of "contracts in formation, " even when the matter is a simple addendum to an existing contract. They do NOT want us owners to see & hear them deliberate OR to n know the vote tally of their board decisions.

But anything like this for Brad is difficult since he sounds like he has no support.

Say, brad, don't know if this will help, but if you haven't done it already, closely review your board's contract with the management company. Perhaps there are ways embedded in it that can give you insights into actions your might take, e.g., may the PM ignore state laws?

BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/16/2019 10:18 AM  
KerryL1
You understand my situation. Many owners are tired of the way that the PM responds to them. They support me but not to the extent of making themselves heard at a board meeting.
I have asked our president for a copy of the Management co. contract. Our PM sent me a bunch of garbage about old contracts and only one new one. Still have not seen the PM contract.
Now even more reason to see the contract is that I am now the new Treasurer. Have not been given any direction other than keeping an eye on the water bills.
At the May board meeting to elect new members, (myself included) I was told that that meeting counted as two because of the election and the regular meeting. That would only leave 2 more mandatory meetings. I can not figure out how all that needs to get done because of the severe lack of proper maintenance will be accomplished.
I have been asking for more board meetings so we can discuss things face to face and stop all the crap that occurs because people read things differently than what is intended without being able to question for clarity.
Because I am retired I can put more effort into researching how all this works, but it is not easy to get direct and competent answers.
Thanks for your comments.
BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/16/2019 10:32 AM  
This is something that I was wondering about.
I put in my nomination but with no other people running, I assume I was not truly elected. Also I thought I saw some thing about needing only a majority of the board to be removed.
Never the less, I am not going to back down from the president who says the board has been in chaos ever since I became a member. He says that the board has been so swamped with my email that they cannot attend to regular business. I was providing the board with information about construction to address sinking asphalt, sidewalks, leaking building interiors and deteriorating landscaping because of my 40 plus years in that industry.
I guess it was just too much for the president to handle. No one else told me I was doing too much.
I may have caused too big of a stir so as you say, walk slowly. I will continue my research for myself and if the board is being less than ethical, I will let them know and deal with what may come.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6718


07/16/2019 11:10 AM  
For a copy of your contract with the management company, put your request in writing and send it to your manger AND your manager's company assuming your PM works for an MC (mgmt. company).

STOP with the emails about construction and rehab projects. These are exactly the items that should go on the board's agenda each month to be discussed at open board meetings.

It's complete BS that the election counted as two board meetings. First, read your bylaws and you'll see that elections (also called annual meetings of the members) are NOT board meetings. They are meetings of the members (homeowners). Besides, where in the state legislation or your bylaws does it say you are limited to xx number of "mandatory" meetings? If your bylaws say that the board need only hold quarterly board meetings, place an item on th agenda to hold more. Monthly, say, and see if the board will vote to approve it.

I feel badly writing this, but I fear you don't yet have the skill set to try to "fix" anything on your own. Even if other owners who agree with you don't want to get involved, and that's pretty common, some may be willing to chip in to get the opinion of an actual HOA attorney about your won governing documents and IL state laws.
BradT4
(Illinois)

Posts:11


07/16/2019 11:39 AM  
Now you understand my situation better.
In trying to get things to move along I have requested more board meetings. Not one since the election in May. If so called "Work Shops" are not allowed, then I don't think that voting on course of actions through email should be either.
I have a 40 plus career in the construction industry and have seen some less than professional work and suggestions from contractors doing work on our property. Some of it being done over and over with out resolving the building leaks that are plaguing our buildings.
By stating that in an email to our board that the PM also has seen, I have ruffled her feathers as well.
Because I do see some things that are probably the cause of the leaks I have tried to inform our board but seems to fall on deaf ears.
I have made suggestions such as hiring a licensed building inspector to give us a qualified and unbiased report of what needs to be done. Someone who has no affiliation with a window, siding, roofing or painting and caulking company. This could be done on just one unit of the four attached units in a building to keep it cost effective.
I still can not figure out where our president is coming from. In person he will agree with me that things need to change but have a complete reversal and then ignore my questions to him in email.
About having the other owners email the board: The only contact they have is the PM company. And I do not think that the president or any board members see all the complaints that the PM gets. The PM probably wants it that way.
I feel that we do need some form of email or other way for owners to contact the board to get issues resolved.
I have asked about a separate email or even a cheap cell phone that could be passed between board members to keep in touch with owners questions and complaints. Maybe that would also be too difficult to manage.
I will heed your advice about IL law and when appropriate, let them know that I am learning.
Thanks again for your efforts.
I love the quote from John Lewis.
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