Remote Condo Meetings During COVID and Beyond
During the pandemic, we have received numerous inquiries from condominium associations and property managers as to whether it is proper or permissible for meetings to be held remotely. The short answer is probably not. Most condominium documents require that trustee and owner meetings be held in-person and that owners vote in person or by proxy at such meetings. That said, we have generally advised clients to proceed with such meetings in light of the health risks and various state and local orders related to the pandemic. Challenges to these meetings or votes and actions taken at such meetings are unlikely to happen and even more unlikely to prevail.
There is, however, still some risk and so we are advising clients who have held such meetings to ratify the votes and actions taken at their next in-person meeting or by proxy votes. We are also advising our clients to amend their documents to allow for remote meetings in the future. Unfortunately, this may not be our last pandemic. Moreover, many associations have seen much greater participation rates at remote meetings and want to continue the use of such meetings in the future.
We are advising our clients to adopt amendments that increase flexibility for trustees and owners and that are more consistent with the way that many of us conduct business these days. Among other things, we are advising our clients to adopt amendments that: (1) grant trustees the power and authority to hold trustee meetings, annual meetings, and special meetings electronically (we do not recommend specifying exactly how such meetings are to be held to leave flexibility as technology and platforms change in the future); (2) amend or eliminate any language that requires in-person meetings to elect trustees or amend condominium documents or for any other purpose; and (3) authorizing owners to submit their votes electronically or by mail-in ballot (such votes received as of the time of the meeting would also count toward establishing a quorum).
In-person meetings play an important role in many communities and are often the best way to discuss and debate complex issues, but creating the option of electronic or hybrid meetings (where trustees and owners can participate in person or remotely) gives trustees and owners the flexibility they need and the opportunity for more community engagement and participation.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss amending your condominium documents to permit electronic meetings and participation in your community.