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Condominium and Homeowners’ Association Members may be Entitled to Attend and Speak at Committee Meetings

August 5th, 2016

Posted in Condominium & Homeowner Association Law

Most members and managers of condominium and homeowners’ associations know that association members are entitled to notice of board meetings and may speak on designated agenda items.  But what about committee meetings?  The answer depends on the type of community association, the purpose and authority of the committee, and the provisions of the association’s governing documents.  Although an attorney with experience in community association law should assist with interpretation of the association’s governing documents, the following should be a helpful starting point

For condominium associations, meetings of a committee that has the authority to take final action on behalf of the board or make recommendations to the board regarding the association budget are subject to the same requirements of a board meeting.  Specifically, members have the right to notice of meetings, the right to attend meetings, and may speak on designated agenda items.  Committees that do not have the authority to take final action on behalf of the board or are not assembled for the purpose of making recommendations to the board regarding the association budget are also subject to the same requirements of a board meeting unless those meetings are exempted from those requirements in the association’s bylaws.  Stated differently, a condominium association is not required to provide notice, permit attendance of members, or allow members to speak on designated agenda items for certain committee meetings if those requirements are specifically exempted in the bylaws.

For homeowners’ associations, meetings of a committee that has the authority to make a final decision regarding the expenditure of association funds or the authority to approve or disapprove architectural decisions with respect to a specific parcel of residential property owned by a member are subject to the same requirements of a board meeting.  However, unlike the Condominium Act, the Homeowners’ Association Act does not address other committee meetings.  Referring to the Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act, the statutory provisions which govern board meetings for Florida non-profit corporations also apply to committees, unless the articles or bylaws provide otherwise.  Pursuant to Section 617.0822 of the Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act, meetings of the board may generally be held without notice unless the articles or bylaws provide otherwise, and there do not appear to be any provisions of the Florida Not For Profit Corporation Act giving members the right to be notified, attend, or speak at board or committee meetings.  Accordingly, unless the governing documents of a homeowners’ association provide otherwise, meetings of a committee that does not have the authority to make a final decision regarding the expenditure of association funds or the authority to approve or disapprove architectural decisions with respect to a specific parcel of residential property owned by a member do not require notice, are not required to be open to the membership, and members do not have the right to speak.

In sum, condominium association committee meetings by default are subject to the same requirements of board meetings unless the bylaws provide otherwise.  By contrast, homeowners’ association committee meetings by default are not subject to the same requirements of board meetings unless the committee has the authority to make a final decision regarding the expenditure of association funds or the authority to approve or disapprove architectural decisions for a member-owned residential parcel.  However, the governing documents should be reviewed to determine what rights the members may have concerning committee meetings, especially for homeowners associations.  For both condominium and homeowners’ associations, committee meetings with the association’s attorney to discuss proposed or pending litigation are not required to be open to members (but may arguably still require notice to be provided).  In any event, it is important to understand that it is insufficient to exclusively rely on pertinent statutory provisions and each association’s governing documents should be carefully reviewed with the assistance of experienced legal counsel to ensure compliance.

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