Annual Meetings 101 Buiding Community and Consensus

What happens at a co-op or condo community’s annual meeting should be strictly business, though these gatherings also can be a place where resident shareholders and unit owners kvetch about their concerns regarding the building or community. That could be OK if not overdone but annual meetings also can serve as a place where neighbors find consensus and share important decisions about their community. These meetings also are required by law—condominiums and homeowners’ associations must hold at least one shareholder or unit owner’s meeting each year.

The main purpose of the community’s annual meeting is to inform resident shareholders and unit owners of the board’s business. Generally, the annual meeting will cover the state of the building’s finances and any planned projects or ongoing capital improvements. The meeting might also include votes on proposals needing shareholder/unit owner approval or to elect new board members, discussion of changes in management or staff, and action on other urgent business. Annual meetings often are a time when residents can ask questions of their board and management team about the building, and how it is being managed.

Sometimes annual meetings become heavy with residents’ complaints, but more often too few people come to the meeting. Lack of attendance sometimes can bog down the process far more than a roomful of angry residents might. Not having enough residents at the meeting, either by physically being in attendance or represented through proxies, can thwart the board from legally taking action on items because it hasn’t achieved a quorum for the meeting. It also can keep residents from electing new board members.

With the right planning, the annual meeting can be both productive and conducive to neighborliness.

Lawful Gatherings

In the state of New York, co-ops are formed under the Business Corporation Law while condos follow the Condominium Act, and this legislation typically requires that an annual meeting be held by the board of a co-op or condo. The New York Condo Act is to condominiums what the BCL is to co-ops: a set of rules by which the boards and developers must abide in order to run their buildings fairly and legally.

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