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Forums help keep communities positive

A: We enjoy your weekly article very much. It has helped us understand our rights and responsibilities under Nevada condominium law.

In your Oct. 30 article, you referenced how the board “made some changes as to how the two homeowner forums at the board meetings were conductive as a positive move in opening up two-way communications.”

■ What were the positive changes to how the forums were conducted?

■ Also, what is the difference between a board forum and a town hall meeting?

Thanks again for your excellent article.

A: The difference between a board forum and a town hall meeting is that Nevada Revised Statute 116.3108 (4c) and NRS 116.31083 (5), require “a period devoted to comments by unit’s owners regarding any matter affecting the common-interest community or the association and discussion of those comments. Except in emergencies, no action may be taken upon a matter raised under this item of the agenda until the matter itself has been specifically included on an agenda” that has been properly noticed to the homeowners. A town hall meeting is not mandated by law.

NRS 116.31083 (5) specifically requires a period of time at the beginning of the board’s meeting and at a second period at the end of the meeting. (Just a note, the law does not use the term, “homeowner forum” but it has become the “accepted’ term used in most agendas by both boards and management companies).

This law also states the first period of time is to be limited to items listed on the agenda. The second period allows homeowners the opportunity of discussing other items, suggestions or concerns the homeowners might have as to the management of the association. Any complaints pertaining to specific homeowners should not be discussed at the second homeowner forum because of privacy issues. Homeowners may address complaints about their neighbors in writing to their associations.

As to the positive changes in how the homeowner forum was conducted, the primary change was the attitude of the board. The board began to look at the homeowner forum as an important function and not as an interruption of the work the board needed to conclude by the end of the meeting. In conducting the forum, the president would ask homeowners in each row if they wanted to address any issue to the board. This change of attitude changed the atmosphere in the meeting, as the board showed it really wanted to hear homeowners’ comments and that their comments would be taken seriously.

Too often, boards become defensive when homeowners criticize them, and unfortunately statements or comments are made which “fan the flames.” It is not necessary to debate every issue with the homeowners. Issues can be taken under advisement which would allow the boards and their management companies to properly investigate homeowners’ complaints.

In addition, by scheduling the town hall meetings prior to the board meetings, homeowners had a chance to discuss potential board agenda items which provided two-way communication between homeowners and board members representing the association. Based upon many of the discussions with the homeowners, agenda items were modified. This process reinforced the positive working relationship between the homeowners and their board of directors.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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