Monthly Archives: August 2020

Opening Up About Texas’ Open Board Meeting Laws

HOA board meetings are an essential part of keeping the community informed on your board’s progress and above all, keeping the leaders of a neighborhood honest. In Texas, the law requires that HOA board meetings are to remain open and must cover specific neighborhood details. An HOA management company likely knows these rules, however we understand a lot of homeowner associations are run by members of the community.

Here’s a closer look at what is covered during an open meeting and how Texas HOA laws impact meeting operations.

What is an Open Meeting?

An Open Meeting means a meeting of the Board of Directors of an HOA which is open to any and all members of the HOA.  This means that any member of an HOA is welcome to attend and observe the meeting.  While owners may be in attendance, the meeting is still a meeting of the Board of Directors, so owners in attendance are not allowed to speak, unless part of an Open Forum as outlined in the meeting’s agenda.

Many Board Meetings require the Board to discuss sensitive information such as compliance or delinquency actions.  This part of the meeting is called a closed or executive session and HOA members are not allowed to observe this part of the meeting.

Are Owners Always Notified of Meetings?

According to Texas law, owners are required to have advanced notice of all board meetings. The open meeting statute grants owners meeting information that includes:

  • The meeting’s date
  • The meeting’s time
  • The meeting’s location
  • Subjects to be discussed openly
  • General description of items that could be discussed in a closed session

Keep in mind, while notice is necessary for some remote meetings, your board is still able to take action without hosting a formal meeting. In the event that the board has an agreed upon phone call or online session where action is taken, there doesn’t have to be any notice given to owners.

What is Covered in an Open Meeting?

Although board members can take action without hosting a board meeting, they are limited to what they can and cannot vote on during those sessions. Any of the 15 required items to be covered at an open meeting are off-limits and must be discussed during an open meeting.

The 15 items that cannot be decided upon outside of an open meeting are:

  • Fines
  • Damage assessments
  • Initiation of foreclosure actions
  • Initiation of enforcement actions (except temporary restraining orders or violations involving a threat to health or safety)
  • Increases in assessments
  • Levying special assessments
  • Appeals from denials of architectural control approval requests
  • Suspension of homeowner rights before the owner has an opportunity to address the board
  • Lending or borrowing money
  • Adopting or amending a dedicatory instrument
  • Approval of an annual budget or budget amendment
  • The sale or purchase of real property
  • Filling a board vacancy
  • The election of an officer
  • Constructing capital improvements

What is Held Back in an Open Meeting?

Although it seems like everything is covered in an open meeting, some matters are best discussed behind closed doors. Should the board opt for a closed session, it is usually for issues that include:

  • Contract negotiations
  • Litigation
  • Legal advice
  • Enforcement actions

Stay On Top of Your HOA Needs With Goodwin & Company

If your board needs help successfully addressing all of your community’s needs, Goodwin & Company has the experience and resources you need. We have helped countless communities like yours succeed and make their neighborhood a place to call home. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

How to Avoid Common HOA Lawsuits

Homeowner associations (HOA) and the boards that lead them take on the responsibility of maintaining the peace of the community. Like all leadership positions, it’s possible for the people you serve to become irate with your board’s decisions and actions.

Although calm conversations resolve most problematic situations, sometimes the end result is an expensive and lengthy lawsuit. It’s easier to prevent these situations than deal with the trials of a lawsuit. Here are some proactive steps your board can take to avoid HOA lawsuits before they strike.

Stay On Top of Your Upkeep

One of the biggest reasons that an HOA gets sued is lack of upkeep around the community. If you hear your community members speak up about common areas needing to be maintained, or repairs that need to be done, take the initiative now, if possible. Your association is responsible for the repairs and general maintenance around the neighborhood and its units. Steer clear of any legal troubles by talking with your management partner and choosing the right vendors for the job. If lack of maintenance is due to a lack of funds, it’s best to communicate that issue to the entire community so that owners are informed of what is going on, and so that they know a dues increase is likely in the near future.

Thoroughly Review Governing Documents With Homeowners

Sometimes, a homeowner wants to make a change on their property that doesn’t fit in with the governing documents. Rather than shutting them down at an HOA meeting and leaving it as a “non-compliant” request, set some time aside to explain your reasoning.

Review governing documents with your constituents, and if possible, try to find a way to create a win-win situation for the homeowner based on what is allowed in the documents.

Get Extra Help When Pursuing Violations

When someone is in egregious breach of bylaws or dues go unpaid, your HOA will have to collect fees and delinquent dues. At times, these actions by your board can result in lawsuits because the offending owner does not agree with the rule or thinks the fees are unfair.

In these situations, it’s best to approach violators with caution. Talk to your management team and discuss the right forms of counsel to ensure that the money is collected, and there is no possibility of a waiver that would disqualify you from pursuing the same type of violation in the future.

Stay on Top of Your HOA With Goodwin & Company

If your board is unsure of how to handle disputes with residents or other situations that could result in a lawsuit, it’s time to look into association management. An association management team helps your HOA’s board make the right decisions and act preemptively against the likelihood of legal troubles.

Goodwin & Company has the experience and legal connections to help your board handle any obstacles that come its way. We’re ready to help you keep your community comfortable. Contact us today to learn more about our services and past success with planned neighborhoods like yours.