HOA boards are required, by law, to take down minutes at every board meeting. Keeping minutes is essential for documenting all of the board’s decisions and actions, and can come in handy when there’s a debate or misunderstanding about a particular subject.
Meeting minutes also create a record of different perspectives and opinions shared during discussions. That’s why it’s important for meeting minutes to be accurate. Once the information is recorded, it’s made available to the board (and in many cases, owners) for reference whenever necessary.
Having a secure online document storage option makes it easier for everyone to access the minutes. Some platforms even allow you to set permissions, meaning you can restrict access when necessary. Storing the documents online also means they won’t get lost or damaged.
Now that we’ve established the importance of taking board meeting minutes and their relevance to helping the board retain facts and records, it’s time to share some reliable strategies that will help you take accurate and effective board minutes.
Who should take meeting minutes?
If your HOA doesn’t already have a designated note-taker, the first thing the board should do is appoint someone to take on that role. Furthermore, there should be a backup in case that person is unable to attend a meeting.
It is often the secretary who will take down the minutes, but a board may hire or elect a recording secretary in order to free up the general secretary for meeting participation. If the association works with a property manager, then they may be asked to take, prepare and share meeting minutes.
The skill of writing board meeting minutes is acquired through study and practice. While it isn’t a skill that anyone is born with, most people can learn and master effective note-taking. In fact, experts recommend that all board members have an understanding of how to record meeting minutes, even if they’re not all going to be tasked with the responsibility.
Board members are encouraged to write their own notes when attending open sessions just so they can have the information on hand if they need it immediately after the meeting. Depending on their role and how long the meeting was, it can take a few days, or more than a week for the note-taker to get the minutes up.
How to write meeting minutes
Begin each session by noting the date and time. Then, write down the meeting objective(s) to provide some context. You could use the objectives to create a title if that would make it easier to find the notes later on. Next, fill out the names of the attendees as they show up so you don’t accidentally include an attendee who ends up being absent.
Now for the bulk of the work. The person taking minutes must write down the agenda items while making sure the most important information is captured. Do not try to write down every single thing word-for-word. This will make it harder for others to find what they’re looking for, and no one wants to review pages and pages of minutes. If you end up jotting down more than is needed, that’s okay. You can always go back and clean the notes up after the meeting.
Write meeting minutes according to the agenda
Your HOA meeting minutes should coincide with the agenda. That means whatever is recorded in the minutes should reflect what was listed in the agenda – resist documenting side chit-chat that may have happened throughout.
Keep track of action items
Out of the discussion will arise action items. It’s important to write these down, along with a due date.
Keep it short and sweet
Once you get to the end of the meeting, you must do a review of the action items so that they may be assigned as duties to board committees or members.
You don’t have to document every single thing that goes on in the meeting. Keep it to the important points and avoid trying to transcribe full conversations. Remember that meeting minutes are not a transcript. They’re a concise collection of important points and ideas from the meeting discussion which may affect decision-making later on.
The minute-taker should always record items that were voted upon, as well as specific motions that transpired at the meeting.
While notes that are transcribed from a tape recording are not considered official meeting minutes, board members may use them as part of their own personal notes. If minutes are being recorded, consider following these best practices.
The minute-taker should always maintain an objective perspective when recording the meeting minutes. This means they should avoid adding criticisms, personal opinions or praise.
What exactly should be included in meeting minutes?
Here are some of the most important points to include in HOA meeting minutes:
- The name of the association
- The type of meeting being held, i.e. special meeting, annual meeting (AGM), monthly meeting, etc.
- The date and location of the meeting
- The time at which the meeting started and adjourned
- A roll call of those who are present and absent with their respective board positions
- Approval of previous minutes
- Committee reports
- New business from open discussions
- All motions including approved and disapproved motions
- Actions that are taken
- Names of members who voted abstained or dissented for a motion
- A record of all financial transactions including bank account opening and closing, reserve expenditure, etc.
These are general items that must be included in every HOA board meeting. However, your local or state laws might have additional items and rules on how to take HOA board meeting minutes.
The importance of an HOA board meeting minutes template
An HOA board meeting minutes template comes highly recommended for its ability to help the minute-taker stay on track while writing the minutes. But, the template must follow the association’s regulations for recording meeting minutes. That way, whoever writes the minutes can follow the same format for guaranteed legibility.
Most HOA boards have a meeting minute book with template pages that include input slots for the date, meeting objective (aka agenda), attendees, action items, deadlines, and a note section for you to write the actual minutes.
Meeting minute approval
It’s important for the board to approve the previous meeting’s minutes before proceeding with the day’s business. But, this is only possible if the meeting has a quorum according to the HOA rules. Once approved, the minutes must be signed by the secretary or else they won’t be official. Board meeting minutes are considered “official” only after they’ve been approved by the board and signed by the secretary.
Meeting minute access
Aside from HOA residents and board members, other stakeholders are allowed to access meeting minutes as well. This includes realtors, new residents, mortgage companies and bankers. That’s because meeting minutes are an official record of association decisions and actions. If necessary, official minutes can be used as a reference for financial transactions. They can also be used in a court of law.
That’s why it’s essential to ensure that meeting minutes are objective and accurate at all times.
Why should the board prioritize taking accurate HOA meeting minutes?
Once meeting minutes are approved, they become a legally binding document. Keeping this in mind can be helpful when writing the minutes to make sure that they’re a true reflection of meeting proceedings.
Is it important to take minutes at all HOA meetings?
Yes! If it’s an official meeting, then it’s important to write minutes or else it might as well have not happened. However, if the meeting doesn’t meet a quorum the meeting is not considered official and it would not be necessary to take minutes. Cancelled or postponed meetings should be noted in the official minute book so as to maintain an accurate record.
How long should the HOA maintain its meeting minutes?
The HOA board must maintain its meeting minute register indefinitely as a part of its official records. They contain an important part of HOA history and may come in handy in the future. Check your state and local laws on how long HOAs are required to keep HOA meeting minutes.
Benefits of taking board meeting minutes
- Meeting minutes help to get all opinions on the table so the board can view issues from different angles and come out with the best solution.
- During board meetings, the board is allowed to take a topic that exceeds the time limit and postpone it to another meeting. The meeting minutes can help the board to pick up where they left off based on facts, not guesses.
- Because meeting minutes contain an accurate record of what was said, they can be used as evidence in a court of law and can serve as a viable defense in any lawsuit.
Meeting minutes are designed to keep track of all board decisions taken at meetings and to ensure that the right actions are taken to enforce those decisions.
It’s not necessary to write what was said in the meeting verbatim. The most important thing is to note vital points and the motions taken.
Follow these tips to help you take good HOA minutes:
- Take attendance
- Keep it short and sweet
- Remain objective
- Keep the minutes to two pages or less (when possible)
- Ask for an explanation if confused about anything
- Use a template
- Prepare the meeting minutes right after the meeting
- Make sure the minutes are signed for approval
- Log and track meeting minutes tasks
Another contributing factor to taking proper HOA meeting minutes is to keep the meeting professional, objective, accurate and concise. This makes it easier for the secretary, or whoever is taking notes, to stay on track. Try not to go off on a tangent. Aim to hold a productive meeting.
Download our free meeting minutes template