There are so many rules to follow when operating and managing a homeowners association. While breaking a small tenet may only result in a slap on the wrist or a terse letter, not complying with the long-established laws that dictate exactly how an HOA should function, particularly when it comes to meetings, can yield unwanted outcomes.
What are HOA meeting laws?
Also called open meeting laws, HOA meeting laws in Arizona exist to prevent any sort of secretive decision making or exclusion. Open meeting laws outline the rights of the people in the HOA as it relates to discussing how all matters are handled.
Examples of current HOA meeting laws in Arizona include:
- All homeowners associations must host a meeting once a year within the state.
- At least 48 hours of advance notice must be given about the time, date and location of an HOA meeting.
- A person may send a designate to represent them at the meeting, but this must be noted in writing.
- A meeting agenda must be made available to all HOA members.
- An emergency HOA meeting is only allowed if an issue has arisen that must be addressed before the next regularly-scheduled meeting.
Email voting and open meeting laws
In recent years, email voting has become a popular method of making decisions for HOA directors. Making a decision via email is protected under ARS 10-3821 of the Non-profit Corporation Act. However, judges across the country have deemed that these digital decision-making processes do, in fact, constitute meetings.
Two particular statutes, ARS 33-1248 and 1804, make the case that email decisions violate open meeting laws for the following reasons:
- The state’s law trumps any association’s governing documents, including those that specify using email voting for decision making.
- “All meetings” are required to be open except for express exemptions such as attorney-client, personal information, violations, etc., and emails do not fall into this “open” definition.
- Open meeting laws apply to any casual conversations where decisions could be reached when a quorum of the board is present, such as an email chain.
Many law experts have examined how email communication and voting applies to open meeting laws. Ultimately, law experts cannot conclude for sure whether email communication violates open meeting laws. Some lower courts hold that they do, especially when the board makes a decision in those emails. But other lower courts hold that they do not. Until the Court of Appeals decides the issue, it will continue to be hotly contested.
You may have read this blog post and become concerned about how your homeowners association is handling related matters. Rather than conducting business as usual, consult a law firm with years of experience in HOA meeting laws in Arizona. The Goodman Holmgren Smith specializes in Arizona HOA law and has done so for the last decade. Rather than trying to understand every area of the law as many other firms attempt to do, Goodman Holmgren Smith is dedicated to being the statewide expert on homeowners association laws. Contact us now to learn how we can transform the way your HOA handles legal matters.