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Meetings and Records Request Rules

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Unfortunately, one of the more common calls I receive from community association clients concerns how to deal with unruly or disruptive members. These members disrupt association board meetings and committee meetings, often by speaking out of turn, refusing to sit down, yelling, screaming, and defaming board members. Other disruptive methods employed by some members include making multiple official records requests (every week or even daily); or sending multiple written inquiries to the condominium board for response.

The Legislature has given condominium, homeowner, and cooperative associations some power to regulate this kind of behavior.

While members have the statutory right to attend association board meetings (with a few exceptions), and the right to speak at such meetings with reference to agenda items, the statutes allow associations to put some further parameters on the frequency, duration and manner of owner comments at meetings. To do so, however, the association must adopt reasonable rules regarding same. Such a rule can also prohibit members from conferring their allotted time to someone else; or from speaking on non-agenda items. However, you need a rule in place to place these limitations on owners. Likewise, the board can adopt a rule requiring a sign-up sheet for those wishing to speak, and rules requiring owners to inform the board prior to audio or videotaping a meeting.

In addition, some boards find it necessary to remind members that the board meeting is a corporate meeting of the governing body of the association, and proper decorum and behavior will be expected. Some boards have found it necessary to pass “civility policies,” outlining the proper behavior expected at the meeting, and allowing the board to remove unruly members or terminate meetings due to unruly behavior.

Boards can also benefit from passing rules regarding the manner and frequency of owners’ inquiries (for condominium and cooperative associations that, pursuant to the statute, must respond to “written inquiries”); and rules regarding the manner and frequency of official records requests. If an association is being bombarded by frequent requests for official records of the association, a rule can be passed regarding the manner of making the request (i.e. requiring requests be sent via certified mail and not email); and the number of written inquiry requests from a member that the association must respond to in any 30-day period.

If unruly members or over-burdensome official records requests are an issue in your association, the board should seek its attorney’s advice in drafting and passing rules to regulate such behavior. Of course, the rules must be properly promulgated, and in accordance with the statutes and the association’s particular governing documents.

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