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Subject: Does your board use email to keep owners informed?
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EReder
(Hawaii)

Posts:8


12/19/2005 6:02 PM  
Hi,

I am a new board member. Our property is in Maui where many of the owners own as a 2nd home so they do not come to the meetings. Plus, 1/3 of the property is timeshare so those owners don't get involved in the association dealings.

My question is, does anybody keep their owners informed of association business via email? Can you use email to take surveys to see how the owners might feel about certain topics. Our management company says that "offical information" must be mailed since not everyone will be on email. But is a survey considered "offical information". It just seems that we are making decisions on our property and a)not many people even know what we are voting on and b)they are not able to voice their opinions since they are not at the board meetings.

Thank you,

Ed Reder
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


12/20/2005 9:56 AM  
Ed, all of the associations I manage have amended their bylaws and rules to allow official notification by e-mail for those members who have e-mail service AND HAVE SIGNED A NOTIFICATION REQUEST FORM authorizing official notifications by e-mail. The boards' decided that when the Declaration has the typical phrase "must be mailed or hand delivered", this includes, but is not limited to, 1st class mail and electronic mail. Those few owners who select 1st class mail are notified as well as the vast majority who are notified by e-mail.

Some management companies may not want to make the effort to have two mailing lists, but this saves the association money, provides prompt info, and can be used to provide community-wide info(not association info). For example, the Lone Tree, Colorado Police Department is using this method to disperse info to all HOA member participants in their neighborhood watch program.

Roger

HankL


Posts:0


12/23/2005 10:58 AM  
but not limited to first class mail and email?

By using the stretch of "mail", an owner can ask for air mail, third class mail, skywriting, and whatever. Our local laws require "mail" as in the paper type, and nothing else. Electronic overindulging by one of our board has caused great damage over 4 or 5 years and made our financial situation just about untenuous, or worse. It's a long story.

Model 1911
RogerB
(Colorado)

Posts:5067


12/26/2005 7:17 AM  
HankL, fax and e-mail have become accepted business practices, so I am interested in the problem your HOA experienced.

Can you share how "electronic overindulging by one of our board has caused great damage over 4 or 5 years and made our financial situation just about untenuous, or worse." Was it identity theft? Fraudulant actions by the board member? Failure of the board to establish effective policies and procedures? or what?

Roger

DaveD
(Florida)

Posts:15


12/29/2005 8:01 AM  
Email use -- great question.

Our community of about 30 homes frequently communicates via email. The annual meeting minutes were sent out via email. The minutes from the last board meeting a few weeks ago were typed and emailed within 24 hours of meeting. It helps the community stay involved in what's going on. We frequently get comments back from individuals supporting or, in some cases, taking exception to our decisions. In either case, we welcome the feedback. As most of us know, feedback is second only to involvement in terms of degree of difficulty.

The only caveat is that the minutes are sent out in "draft" form to avoid a possible legal problem where a "quick read" didn't catch an inappropriate statement. At the next meeting the draft minutes are reviewed and approved. Approved minutes are resent (via email) along with the new "draft" minutes from the meeting. (I think it is a little overkill, but the management company wants to be very careful.)

We have email addresses for every owner. At each annual meeting I update the contact list with home phone numbers, email addresses, and in some cases, cell phone numbers and give a copy to each of the thirty owner community. I have done this for a couple of years now with zero pushback. (Of course if someone asked to be taken off the list, we would do so -- but the system doesn't get abused and hence, no requests.)

Looking over past emails, here is a sampling of what gets sent via email: meeting notices, minutes, theft report from a subcontractor, maintenance issues, new community member, invitation to fireworks, proposed changes to architectural standards, community survey results, utility company digging, etc.

Reserved for snail-mail: violation letters, coupons for dues, annual meeting notice w/ proxy forms, etc.

DavidD
(Virginia)

Posts:5


12/29/2005 9:06 AM  
As a real estate service firm we encourage the associations to use emails. This help us and our project managers a lot.

Last summer we did a wood rot repair project in Ashburn, Virginia and because we had to restrict access to balconies that we were working on it was usefull to send notices to the occupants through the email.

We find email use helps our property maintenance coordination, and save us from asking association or property managers for help.
EReder
(Hawaii)

Posts:8


12/29/2005 9:39 AM  
Hi Roger,

Thank you for your response. I will share it with my board. For some reason our property management company seemed against it. I sure like the idea and want to help inform the owners on what's going on at our property and board decisions.

How about using email for surveys to see how the owners feel about certain decisions we are going to need to make? Do your properties you manage do this? I have seen websites, for properties that offer this service. Do you have an example of HOAs that are using surveys via email to see how the owners feel about things?

Thank you,

Ed Reder
RobertG
(Arizona)

Posts:505


12/29/2005 2:28 PM  
One very minor thing to remember using email. Email is viewed as a public item whereas, snail mail and faxes are considered private to the person sending and receiving. This probably does not make much difference for HOAs, but it can.
LeeS1


Posts:0


07/19/2006 11:45 PM  
If your association is going to use email to communicate, your bylaws have to so authorize it. We have found it is bad, and need to amend the bylaws to specify the circumstances under which email can be used. We have had numerous problems. Examples: Someone on the board states they never got the email vote request. Another board member states that she sent out the request in the morning, yet others don't get it until the afternoon. A bunch of people on AOL never got the email. I could go on and on.

My recommendation would be that email should be okay for non voting issues. Example: Reminder that the yearly picnic is on Saturday, be sure to bring a salad if your last name starts with A-L. Etc.

I would avoid email voting at all costs. You don't have the free and full discussion that is characteristic of a deliberative assembly (see Robert' Rules). Someone might have a good comment and be able to sway the vote of another person. Discussing via email when you have a large board is a nightmare. So, avoid email communication for all but the most mundane issues.
CharlesW1
(Georgia)

Posts:826


07/20/2006 6:42 AM  
I have read all the responses to your post. I agree with Lee on this one. I too think email would be awesome for the community. You will always have someone who didn’t receive it, though. Now they feel they are being discriminated against!
Sometimes you just can’t win.


Keep us posted
Chuck W.

Charles E. Wafer Jr.
WilliamT
(Arizona)

Posts:489


07/20/2006 7:30 AM  
Posted By CharlesW1 on 07/20/2006 6:42 AM

I have read all the responses to your post. I agree with Lee on this one. I too think email would be awesome for the community. You will always have someone who didn’t receive it, though. Now they feel they are being discriminated against!
Chuck W.


It's also easy to not send an email to an individual(s, either accidentally, or on purpose, and claim it was sent.

I'm trying to get our board to use a Community123 web site because of the many benefits to a community. I think it's a great web site. Among it's features are a community forum, and a separate Board area with a Board only forum. The topics discussed there remain on the board for future reference.

Board members can opt into receiving an email notification when anything is posted on the community forum or the Board forum, or they can elect to go to the web site and read the forums on their own.

At any rate, no one can then claim they didn't get a notification, and no one can send out a notification and accidentally leave someone out of the mailing.

By using the private Board forum, there could be some questions about the board conducting business without a meeting that association members can attend. The formum information remains on the site, and is not really a secret. The information can be produced at any time.

Most of these types of discussions only have to do with following up on discussions between meetings, or exploring ideas. And not all board members may reply to a particular discussion topic. Any significant occurence on the forum could be ratified at board meetings so as to make sure it is public.

Bill
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