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If homeowner requests an agenda item, must he/she attend meeting?

September 06, 2009|Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian

Question: I asked my homeowner association's board of directors to place a matter regarding windows on the agenda for the next board meeting.

I was unable to attend that meeting, and when the minutes were distributed, they read, "The person who asked that this subject be placed on the agenda did not attend the meeting, therefore the board did not discuss it." Can the board not discuss it?

Answer: Although the board has a statutory duty to hold meetings, titleholders have no statutory duty to attend such meetings, and that does not prevent the agenda discussions from taking place. The board must not use the titleholder's nonattendance at meetings as an excuse to avoid conducting association business or discussing agenda items or other related inquiries.

Throughout the Corporations Code is the admonition that board actions do not have an official status unless taken at a regular or special meeting of the board for which minutes are then produced.

Homeowners are often told to address their concerns directly to the board of directors.

Protocol for placing items on the board's meeting agenda has as many variations as there are associations. Even though oral or written notice to one director is considered to be "notice to all" directors, merely speaking to a board director in passing may not be enough to ensure that the agenda item is recognized, per se. The best way to ensure that an item is placed on the agenda is to put it in writing to the board ahead of time.

The issue should be presented in a clear and concise manner so the board can discuss it regardless of whether you are present. This does not require the use of massive attachments or diagrams, just a simple description of the problem. Once the board is notified of an issue that requires its attention and action, it is obligated to discuss the issue at the meeting.

Usually an association's covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) indicate whether windows are the association's responsibility or the titleholder's.

If windows are not specifically mentioned in the CC&Rs, then look to Civil Code section 1351(i)(1), which classifies some of them as "exclusive use common areas" and makes their repair the titleholder's responsibility. Even so, some associations will still maintain or repair certain "exclusive use" areas, including windows.

Other windows are part of the common areas and fall under the board's responsibilities.

Either way, the board has an obligation to discuss your issue and document it in the meeting minutes so all titleholders can benefit from the response.

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Send questions to P.O. Box 11843, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or e-mail noexit@mindspring.com.

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