BlogOrganizational Management Taking Great HOA Meeting Minutes: Everything You Need (+ Template) Organizational Management Taking Great HOA Meeting Minutes: Everything You Need (+ Template) Author: Sonia Urlando January 27, 2023 Contents 🕑 9 min read So it’s time for your homeowner association to meet. Once you’ve got your agenda set, you notice that there’s a whole lot to discuss—and that’s when it’s time to prepare to take HOA meeting minutes! But what do you actually write down? Is there an HOA meeting minutes example out there, or do you have to make it up on the fly? Do you have to take meeting minutes at all? Read on to learn all about how to take effective minutes—plus get a free HOA meeting minutes template! What Are HOA Meeting Minutes? HOA meeting minutes are documentation of what happened in your meetings. They let members review what was covered during the meeting, and also serve as a legal record. If anyone misses a meeting, the minutes will catch them up at a glance. Minutes are an essential part of board meetings for any organization, and your homeowner association is no exception! Why It’s Important to Take Notes During HOA Board Meetings Taking HOA board of directors meeting minutes: Holds your team accountable for their decisions Catches up those who missed a meeting Reminds people of their responsibilities Creates a legal record One reason boards struggle is when members aren’t engaged. Meeting minutes are one way to keep everyone accountable, on track and up to date. What to Include in Your Meeting Minutes When you break it down to basics, there are five items you 100% need to include in your HOA meeting minutes: 1. Basic Information Some of the most basic HOA meeting minutes requirements include: The legal name of your association. What type of a meeting it is. For example, is this a regularly scheduled board meeting, an annual meeting or a special/emergency meeting? The time and date of the meeting. The location you’re meeting in. If it’s always fixed, it’s alright for you to leave this one out. However, if you have to change locations, that’s definitely something to note! 2. Attendance Attendance is a super important thing to pay attention to in meetings. Not only does it provide an accurate record, but it also shows you if you’ve reached quorum. Make a list of present and absent: Board members (including their positions) Guest speakers Homeowners Committee members If anyone attends or votes in place of an absent member, be sure to document that. For accountability’s sake, it’s also valuable to document who’s consistent late. If your attendance is low, explore some ways to increase homeowner turnout. This will make sure you can always reach quorum! 3. Important Times Part of holding efficient meetings is keeping track of time! In your HOA meeting minutes, include what time: The meeting started The meeting ended When each item was discussed The date and time of the next meeting (do this at the end!) Keeping track of time shows you where you’re spending the most time during your meetings. This can help you plan out your board meeting agenda and be sure that meetings don’t go on longer than they have to! 4. Reports and Finances One major part of your HOA board of directors meeting minutes is keeping track of everyone’s reports! This includes things like: Financial reports Officer reports Manager reports Committee reports Be sure to write down who gave each report and at what time. During your financial reports, keep track of details like: Total assets and operating fund Reserve expenses Liens placed on homeowner properties If a bank account has been opened or closed If your minutes reveal that the financials are looking complicated, it might be time to see if your board wants to get support from HOA management companies or HOA software. 5. Discussions, Motions and Votes One of the best things about board meetings is the opportunity to discuss and make changes. Your meeting minutes should include: Motions: who made them, who seconded them and if they were approved or not. Voting: who voted in favor, dissented and abstained. Old business and if it was resolved. New business and when it will be addressed in the future. Actions that were taken during the meeting. Committees and task forces that were created, and who is now involved. Discussions can go long, but you shouldn’t dive into every detail! Keep it simple for future readers. What is an Executive Session in an HOA Board Meeting? An executive session is a private part of the meeting for board members. When homeowners attend a board meeting, that’s considered an “open meeting.” During the meeting, there’s an open forum for homeowners to share their thoughts and concerns. However, there are some matters that should be for the board alone! Delinquencies and disciplinary hearings aren’t something that should be in the public forum. Executive sessions are usually held before or after the open session, and should have their own HOA meeting minutes. But remember: all actions, regardless of the matter, must be taken during an open meeting. While open session minutes must be public, executive session minutes are confidential. Who’s Responsible for HOA Meeting Minutes? The secretary of the board of directors is typically responsible for taking HOA board meeting minutes. If the board of directors is small and does not have a secretary, the responsibility goes to the chair or someone else who is officially appointed for the role. If the secretary or typical note taker is unavailable, that is something that should always be noted in the minutes! After the meeting, the minutes are approved by the rest of the board of directors. The official approval and sign off is typically one of the first agenda items at the following meeting. When Should HOA Meeting Minutes be Distributed? HOA meeting minutes should typically be distributed to all HOA members within 30 days of the meeting. However, some states have exceptions, so be sure to do some research to avoid penalties! It’s the secretary’s responsibility to distribute the minutes. Before the minutes get sent out to your general members, have your board look them over. If you can get this done in under a week, you’ll still be able to get your minutes to members well before the 30 day deadline. Your minutes also need to be open to members old and new going forward. Be sure to post notice of members’ right to review meetings at least once a year. Your association’s annual general meeting is a great time for the reminder! Running an HOA is a lot of work, but don’t let distributing the minutes get swept under the rug! For example, your HOA annual meeting minutes will cover a LOT of information about both the previous year and the year moving forward. Sending out the minutes shows transparency, and catches up anyone who missed the meeting. 5 Tips for Taking Superb HOA Meeting Minutes Curious about how to write meeting minutes that go above and beyond? These 5 tips will guide you in writing minutes that are clear, concise and accurate! 1. Keep it brief Resist the urge to overwrite! A lot goes on during an HOA meeting, but your members don’t need a play-by-play. Search up some sample HOA meeting minutes to see how you can condense a long meeting into a brief document. If you have a tendency to overwrite, or are nervous about missing something important, that’s okay. Just be sure to take some time to edit your minutes before they’re sent out. If you have a buddy to review them, all the better! If anyone missed the meeting and wants to have the full experience, they can always consult an official, board-approved recording. Just be sure you have that approval. 2. Focus on takeaways and action items Have you ever asked yourself “what’s the point of this meeting?” Good news! That question is actually fantastic for guiding your meeting minutes. Running productive HOA board meetings is all about getting things done. Document what your members walked away with at the end of the meeting. For example: What action plans have been made? Who’s in charge of next steps? What fresh ideas were presented? What did this meeting accomplish? 3. Be attentive (and use recording if needed!) If you’re in charge of meeting minutes, do what you can to avoid zoning out. Write down what you hear to keep your brain active, or consider chewing gum. (Seriously, gum can help you focus!) If you’re meeting virtually, recording a meeting on Zoom or another platform will help you review any information that you may have missed. Check in on your board’s rules for recording—some boards want the recordings to be deleted within a certain period after meeting. 4. Leave out unnecessary details While certain parts of your meeting minutes can be forgiven for running a little bit long, there are some details you should keep out no matter what. Dialogue. There’s a difference between taking minutes and writing a transcript! For example, if you were discussing board recruitment, you don’t need to write out a play-by-play of the conversation. Summarizing the points is more than enough. Irrelevant discussions. People get off track from time to time, but that doesn’t need to make it into your minutes. Stick to documenting what impacts your association. Your personal feelings. Look—everyone has gotten frustrated during a meeting. However, it’s very important to remain impartial in your minutes! This is a public legal document, and writing something like “John ran his mouth again for 20 minutes” isn’t professional. Emphasis is also something to keep in mind. Avoid bolding, underlining, italicizing or using all caps to emphasize—especially if a discussion is heated! Sticking to the facts is how you keep things impartial. 5. Use clear and consistent formatting Even if graphic design is your passion, your meeting minutes should be straightforward and easy to read. Plus, they should use the same format from meeting to meeting! If someone’s going through paperwork, they should be able to recognize your minutes from format alone. This is where a HOA meeting minutes template comes in handy. And guess what… Sample HOA Meeting Minutes Template Looking for a fillable or printable HOA meeting minutes template to get you started? These free downloads will give you everything you need to take effective minutes. Open Session: Download HOA meeting minutes template (Word) below. Executive Session: Download HOA meeting minutes template (Word) below. FAQs Here are a few frequently asked questions about taking homeowner association meeting minutes. Are HOA board meeting minutes legal requirements? Yes, HOA board meeting minutes are legally required. They can be accessed by residents, realtors, bankers, mortgage companies and lawyers. Sometimes they’re looked at to reference sales transactions, but they can also be subpoenaed if there is a legal issue. It sounds scary, but it’s surprisingly easy to write down everything you need for this document! Just consult our HOA meeting minutes template if you’re uncertain. How long should the minutes be kept? HOA meeting minutes should be kept indefinitely—remember, they’re technically official legal records! However, be sure to check the rules in your state. Laws for keeping print and digital minutes can vary depending on where you are and what kind of association you run. Can they be changed? Until the board officially approves the meeting minutes, they can still be changed! Once the minutes are prepared by the secretary, they’re submitted for approval at the next meeting. Typically, the board signs them to show that they’re all set. In some cases, minutes can be changed after approval, but that would be unusual! Ready to Take Those Minutes? Now that you know the must-haves and best practices for HOA meeting minutes, you should be able to get started no problem! If you’re wishing that every other part of running a homeowner association could be this simple, it might be time to invest in HOA software. The best HOA software can automate admin tasks, improve member benefits, simplify financial reports, build a member database and more. Go on and see if it’s right for you! 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