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Subject: Disruptive Members - Annual Meeting
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TammyC3
(New Mexico)

Posts:70


10/10/2019 7:37 AM  
Annual Meeting of Members.

I recently witnessed a complete circus of ignorance during a 'special meeting'. A total disregard for all protocol, professionalism and governance; even the 'notice' said that the meeting wasn't 'supported by statute'. The 'special meeting' was the premise for 'calling' a meeting, but the agenda was titled a 'landowner meeting'. Although advised by attorney that these meetings could not be combined, they remained steadfast and continued forward. The attorney advised we attend for the purpose of clearing the air and mutual understanding.

Members that haven't read or don't read their documents were emotionally driven. I would never have believed that people could behave like that if I hadn't witnessed it myself. It was shocking. 5 of 7 Directors and many members were asked to leave because 'it wasn't their meeting'.

The Annual Meeting is coming up, and emails indicate that a repeat is on the horizon. New members are cast below long time members. Cries of 'the way we've done it for years' drove emotional members to a 'special'/'landowner' meeting' that allow last minute changes in time & place and allowed votes by proxy. It's a hot mess!


The two directors that called this 'meeting' sat silently as shouts escalated. The developer approached members and said she 'couldn't believe' they were attending and reminded others of her forgiveness of their late payments*. I failed to be able to bring the special meeting to order. My only recourse was to stand and shout louder and remind everyone that we are all adults. However, once all were seated, I read from a scripted statement and when I said the word "discuss", many members (lead by the developer) went crazy again, eventually filing out of the building. We suspect that the Power Point presentation that would show actual documents that contradicted their rhetoric and showed how the association's losses in revenue benefited the developer, was not part of their agenda. "Rules of Conduct" were posted via Power Point 30 minutes prior to the start time and during the entire time this occurred.

Interesting note: All the members that attended with the developer have not attended an annual meeting or delivered a vote for the past 5 years (all the records we have). Unsure if relevant: *The developer holds the mortgage on the property of many of the members.

There are no 'police' out here in the frontier. We have 4 Deputy Sheriff's to patrol 6500 square miles. They aren't coming! Trust me on this!

I'm looking for suggestions for 'Rules of Conduct' & options if the Rules are ignored and the Annual Meeting becomes unavoidably unruly. .

Appreciate any guidance.

Tammy

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9139


10/10/2019 10:59 AM  
Tammy

Is the developer a property owner/member of the association? If not, mortgage holder or not, she has no rights to do anything. Time for you all to decide who is in charge.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:761


10/10/2019 11:50 AM  
Lord have mercy. Valium in the punch bowl, maybe? (Yes, I'm kidding.)

A common solution for association meetings that erupt like that is to have an off-duty police officer present who can escort the trouble makers from the room. However, it sounds like that's not an option.

So maybe come at this from another angle.

How big a problem do you have:

* One hot button issue, or several?

* A small group of trouble makers, or the majority of home owners?

* Are the issues legitimate, or is the developer trying to control the association by firing up people who are in her pocket? If the latter, what is her goal?

Without knowing the details, I don't have concrete suggestions. However,in general I recommend an information campaign. You want to have the majority of owners on your side, the more the better - and the sooner they get fed up with the trouble makers, the better.

* Address any legitimate issues. Show the community that the board is working to benefit the community.

* Present the facts. Have a one page "elevator speech" as well as more details. Use the web, use mailings, use all options to get your message out.

* Try to isolate the developer. If you're lucky, she's acting in an obviously self-serving manner, and you'd be able to show why the board believes her actions are not in the best interests of the community. But be sticklers for factual information that can be proven - you don't want to be accused of defamation. (This can be tricky,so listen to your attorney. Developers often have deep pockets, and this is one area where the Golden Rule comes into play: "He who has the gold makes the rules.")

* Wars are won before the first shot is fired. Plan your moves carefully, assess possible consequences of each. Communicate about the hot button issues in writing, with some "canned responses" available if someone button-holes you. No unscripted responses. (As you discovered, "clearing the air" does no such thing.)

* Keep your cool. I know, easier said than done when someone is screaming at you. However, you'll look professional and add to your credibility. Also remember that people who stir up trouble are energized by uncontrolled emotional outbursts. If you yell back, you're fighting for the opposition, and they'll win every time.

Good luck. I wish I could say that your experience is unusual, but you'll find out that a lot of us have dealt with out-of-control homeowners.

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9024


10/10/2019 3:47 PM  
Not sure where to start... Is this still developer controlled or is it owner owned? Was this a special meeting or a meeting to call a special meeting? Not clear what the meeting was about. Are the board members not also landowners? The meeting was for landowners of which they are correct?

You can try to find some private security company. We have one here that does special events and such that can be hired.

It's also good to review your Articles of Incorporation or CC&R's on HOW a meeting is to be held. I would put that as a powerpoint page and have it shown when people enter. No one wants to see "how to behave rhetoric". They need to see something in order. Even if you go to church they give out a brochure with a list of what songs, who is preaching, and when communion is taken etc... Establish the meeting order, post it, and follow it.

Former HOA President
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3570


10/10/2019 5:26 PM  
I've found the this list about chairing an academic committee works well in the HOA context.

But seriously, do the opposite.
TammyC3
(New Mexico)

Posts:70


10/11/2019 7:37 PM  
Yes the developer is a property owner.

144 lots developed in 2000.
Release of control 2007 @ 108 (75%) lots sold .

Developer sold 108 lots in 7 years.
Developer sold less than 5 lots in following 12 years.
Repossessed 19 of those in past 12 years.

Developer currently holds 31 'unsold' lots and 16? repossessed lots. (Only the treasurer knows for sure!!)

20 years gone and the developer holds 47 lots of 144?

Something smells funny.



TammyC3
(New Mexico)

Posts:70


10/11/2019 7:54 PM  
Cathy,

* A small group of trouble makers, or the majority of home owners?
- the group is absentee landowners and with developer votes, outnumber the resident's votes.

* Are the issues legitimate, or is the developer trying to control the association by firing up people who are in her pocket? If the latter, what is her goal?
- The treasurer billed lower assessments to her 'friend' the developer (for 10 years! another forum topic months ago!). This was discovered in January and billing was corrected for 2018 & 2019 assessments. Boy o boy is the developer trying to fire up the members.

Just received email from developer to members insisting 5 Directors have been removed (without a vote) and members should not attend the Annual Meeting but send their vote for new officers to the developer! Meanwhile, the treasurer refuses to release funds.

I want to avoid stopping the Annual Meeting due to the antics of a few. We are 'frontier' country. No police within 100 miles. 4 deputies to cover 6500 square miles.

5 Directors remained very calm last time, and still, nothing was accomplished. We've got some hot topic resolutions and all the questions asked at last years meeting are hot topics!

What do we do it there is chaos? Can we move to another location and restrict entry? Can we take a break or intermission for the length of time it takes to regain control? Postpone and restrict entry there?

We had rules of conduct posted last time ... and 'they' didn't abide by them.

What to do?



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9139


10/12/2019 5:26 AM  
Tammy

Has the developer turned control over to the homeowners?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:761


10/12/2019 7:35 AM  
Posted By TammyC3 on 10/11/2019 7:54 PM


Just received email from developer to members insisting 5 Directors have been removed (without a vote) and members should not attend the Annual Meeting but send their vote for new officers to the developer! Meanwhile, the treasurer refuses to release funds.


** COMMENT: As you know, the only persons who can remove directors are the homeowners, at a properly noticed and conducted special meeting, or by vote at the annual meeting when the director's term has expired.

Posted By TammyC3 on 10/11/2019 7:54 PM


I want to avoid stopping the Annual Meeting due to the antics of a few. We are 'frontier' country. No police within 100 miles. 4 deputies to cover 6500 square miles.


** COMMENT: Your governing documents probably state that you must hold an annual meeting/election and may even specify when (such as during the third quarter). So cancelling the meeting wouldn't be proper, although sometimes annual meetings can fail to happen due to unavoidable circumstances (such as the community being hit by a hurricane).

I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect that telling members not to attend the annual meeting is out of line since it interferes with owners' rights under your governing documents. Telling people to send votes to the developer would be grounds for throwing out the election results. As I said, the developer knows just enough to undermine herself.

Posted By TammyC3 on 10/11/2019 7:54 PM


5 Directors remained very calm last time, and still, nothing was accomplished. We've got some hot topic resolutions and all the questions asked at last years meeting are hot topics!

What do we do it there is chaos? Can we move to another location and restrict entry? Can we take a break or intermission for the length of time it takes to regain control? Postpone and restrict entry there?

We had rules of conduct posted last time ... and 'they' didn't abide by them.

What to do?


** COMMENT: I like someone else's suggestion of hiring private security if you think that the meeting is going to dissolve into fisticuffs. Taking a refreshment break when tempers are rising is a great idea for regaining control of a meeting and perfectly appropriate. You should only restrict entry if someone is repeatedly disruptive. In my state it's illegal to disrupt a meeting of this sort, so check your state laws to see if you have something similar.

Include rules of conduct in your agenda. Just because some folks want to misbehave doesn't mean that there shouldn't be rules. Some boards even pass resolutions that list proper and improper behavior at meetings, along with the notice that repeated misbehavior can result in a person being removed from the meeting.

If you do nothing more than remain calm and more or less in control, and manage to hold a proper election, I'd say you're doing well considering how much chaos and confusion you're dealing with.

It does appear that the developer is trying to gain control of the association, for whatever reason. Personal opinion: it may take legal action to get her to stop, although a stiffly worded Cease and Desist letter from the HOA attorney may stop her. If you have enough like-minded homeowners, you may want to consider pooling your resources and buying a few hours of consultation with an attorney who is well versed in HOA law (NOT real estate law, they're different). My sense is that the developer is doing something illegal as well as unethical, but you need an informed opinion on what your options are.
TammyC3
(New Mexico)

Posts:70


10/14/2019 3:24 AM  
That link is a riot! But seriously, doing the opposite is what caused the problems!


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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Disruptive Members - Annual Meeting



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