HOA Meeting Minutes: Templates and Requirements in MA

meeting minutes clock calendarMeeting minutes are an essential aspect of governance and administration within Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in Massachusetts. They serve as a formal record of the discussions and decisions made during HOA board meetings, committee meetings, and general membership meetings. For property management companies, understanding the importance of meeting minutes, how to effectively prepare them, and their role in HOA operations is crucial.

What Are HOA Meeting Minutes?

HOA meeting minutes are written or recorded documentation that captures the key points, discussions, decisions, and actions taken during a meeting. They are not a verbatim transcript but rather a concise and accurate summary of what transpired. Meeting minutes typically include the date, time, and location of the meeting, a list of attendees, a statement of the issues considered by the participants, and a record of any decisions made, or actions taken.

Are HOA meetings mandatory in MA?

In Massachusetts, HOA meeting minutes are not legally required in every case to be held, but sometimes the bylaws or rules and regulations of an association will require it. In that case, they must be kept.  

Additionally, If the bylaws call for an annual meeting, which is fairly common, there will usually be details on notice requirements and how votes will be conducted.  

HOA Meeting Requirements in MA

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 183A (commonly referred to in Massachusetts as “The Condominium Act”) does not contain specific requirements for holding HOA meetings- that includes both meetings of a Board of Trustees and a meeting of Unit Owners. In most cases, everything that is required in regard to meetings will be stated within the association’s bylaws, which lay out the rules for self-government of the association. In fact, Chapter 183A, Section 11 lays out the provisions that are required to be contained in the Bylaws. This includes a description of how common areas will be maintained, how common expenses will be assessed and collected, the process of hiring a management company or manager, a process for adopting rules and regulations, and any restrictions on the use of units.

For more information, click here.

When should HOA meeting minutes be distributed?

The meeting minutes should be available for owners within a reasonable time frame after the meeting. Some Associations may post minutes to a website so that residents can access the information as needed.

Can HOA board meetings be recorded in MA?

The Condominium Act does not specifically address questions such as whether a meeting of the Trustees or a meeting of Unit Owners can be recorded. Similarly, it does not address whether a meeting can be held virtually. When the Act was passed into law in 1963, these were not considerations that at the front of people’s mind and the law has not been updated to account for these any other advances and changes. Therefore, it is advisable to work with a management company and/or attorney to determine how to best accomplish this within the bylaws and rules and regulations of the association.

Are HOA meeting minutes public record?

Meeting minutes are not considered public record. But, as explained more below, if minutes are kept, they should be made readily available to residents and there should be a procedure for providing minutes to buyers looking to purchase a unit within the association.

Why Are Meeting Minutes Important for HOAs?

  1. Legal Compliance: Many states have laws requiring HOAs to keep detailed records of their meetings. Meeting minutes serve as an official record that can be referred to if disputes arise or if the association needs to demonstrate adherence to governance standards.
  2. Transparency and Accountability: HOA meeting minutes provide transparency by making the actions of the HOA board and committees open to examination by all members of the association. This openness fosters a sense of accountability among board members, as their decisions and actions are formally recorded and accessible.
  3. Institutional Memory: HOAs can experience turnover in board members and management staff. Meeting minutes serve as a continuous record of the association’s decisions and policies over time, providing valuable context and background for new members or when revisiting past decisions.
  4. Decision Making and Follow-up: HOA board meeting minutes are a crucial tool for tracking the decisions made by the HOA and the actions that need to be taken as a result. They help ensure that tasks are assigned and completed, and they provide a reference point for measuring progress on ongoing issues.
  5. Buyers and Sellers: When a unit owner sells their property, it is common for buyers to ask for copies association meeting minutes to help them get a better understanding of things such as the financial health of the association and whether there are any impending assessments.

Best Practices for Managing HOA Meeting Minutes

  1. Preparation and Format: Designate a specific person, such as a secretary or an administrative staff member, to take the minutes.
  2. Accuracy and Clarity: The minutes should accurately reflect the proceedings of the meeting without unnecessary detail. Avoid personal observations or editorial comments. The language should be clear, objective, and neutral.
  3. Timeliness: Prepare and distribute the minutes promptly after the meeting, allowing board members and residents to review them while the discussions are still fresh in their minds.
  4. Review and Approval: At the beginning of each meeting, review the minutes from the previous meeting for approval. This process ensures that all participants agree on the record of decisions made and actions agreed upon, providing an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings before the minutes are finalized.
  5. Accessibility: Store the approved minutes in a secure but accessible location, such as a dedicated section of the HOA’s website or a physical file in the property management office. Ensure that members know how to access the minutes if they wish to review them.
  6. Confidentiality: Be mindful of privacy and confidentiality when recording and distributing minutes.

Templates For HOA Meeting Minutes

A major challenge for those responsible for recording meeting minutes, especially for the first time, is understanding what details to capture and what to leave out. Below are the key components that should be incorporated into the minutes’ document:

  1. The Basic Information:
  • The nature of the meeting (e.g., annual general meeting, board meeting, executive session, etc.)
  • The date on which the meeting occurred
  • The starting time of the meeting
  • The location of the meeting
  • The agenda for the meeting
  1. Attendance – who attended the meeting and what their role is.
  2. Guest Speakers (if there were any)
  3. Reports that were discussed
  4. Discussions and votes: Include a list of all the ideas that were talked about, any voting that happened, and other things people discussed during the meeting.

Example template: https://www.hoalife.com/blog/hoa-meeting-minutes-template

Tips for Note-Taking Efficiency

When it comes to documenting MA HOA annual meeting minutes, having effective strategies in place is important. The tips below can significantly strengthen the quality of your meeting minutes, making them a reliable resource for future reference and action planning.

  1. Utilize an Outline: Preparing an outline or template aligned with the meeting’s agenda simplifies the note-taking process.
  2. Track Attendance: If you’re familiar with the attendees, mark them off as they arrive. Otherwise, initiate introductions at the meeting’s start or pass around an attendance sheet for self-check-off.
  3. Immediately Document Decisions and Action Items: Ensure accuracy by recording decisions or action items in your outline as they happen.
  4. Seek Clarification When Needed: If the discussion moves forward without a clear decision or conclusion, don’t hesitate to ask for further explanation of the decision made or the subsequent steps.
  5. Focus on Key Information: Do not transcribe discussions word for word. Instead, concentrate on capturing the essence of decisions, assignments, and action steps in a clear and concise manner.

Meeting minutes are more than just a bureaucratic requirement; they are a vital tool for effective governance and communication within HOAs. By adhering to best practices in preparing, managing, and utilizing meeting minutes, property management companies can help HOAs achieve transparency, accountability, and operational efficiency. If you have more questions about Massachusetts law concerning meeting minutes, click here.

Are you tired of trying to manage your Massachusetts HOA property on your own? Let our team of experienced HOA management professionals take the burden off your shoulders. For more information, you can reach us at (855) 213-3410 or email us at info@lamacchiapm.com.