September 4, 2020 - 5:15 pm
Note: Last week, we left out the names of my column’s guest writers. They are John Leach, Cheri Hauer and Donna Zanetti of the law firm Leach, Kern, Gruchow, Anderson and Song.
Q: Thank you for your homeowners association column. I have been a HOA board director for a year. On July 5, new board members, including the new president, were elected to our board of seven. If possible, could you provide information (and Nevada Revised Statute 116 provision) for the following matters:
1. Board of directors “retreat” was called by new board president on short notice. Here are a few concerns:
■ Is a “retreat” allowed per NRS 116?
■ How much notice needs to be given to the board by the president?
■ Can homeowners attend a board workshop or retreat to observe?
■ No agenda was provided. Does an agenda have to be provided for a “retreat” or a workshop?
2. Who is to count the ballots for a board of directors election? Are homeowners to count ballots, or community manager? Can homeowners be prevented from counting ballots?
3. Can new president decide to pay a vendor, who was referred to board attorney for breach of contract? Or, is the entire board to vote on payments of invoices? Vendor did not get prior written approval for the jobs per the contract. Attorney was working to get vendor to mediation regarding breach of contract and questionable invoices. Is entire board to vote on this as a legal matter, or can the president make the decision to do so?
4. The president decided to have our monthly HOA meeting at the clubhouse of a sub-association managed by another community manager. Prior to this, our meetings have been held at the community manger’s office, via Zoom, or at a school, which we rented for the meeting. Here are my questions:
■ Should a board vote have been taken?
■ The employees of the sub’s management company will be taking the temperatures of our homeowners and making them sign a waiver. Can employees of another community management company be allowed at our private homeowner HOA meeting? When our homeowners go to the grocery store, other retail stores, restaurants, they do not have to have temps taken or sign a waiver. Should our HOA allow the sub-association’s HOA management company to impose this on our board and homeowners?
■ Can the employees of the sub’s management company attend our private, homeowner monthly board of director’s HOA meeting?
■ Is there a NRS 116 provision where HOA meetings are to be held? If not, what is best practices?
5. Three board members of one of our sub associations were just elected to our master HOA board of seven members. There is concern these three will take over our board by obtaining just one other board of director’s vote, which would give them the four majority votes needed. Some see it as as a potential conflict of interest, and possibly, unethical. This is not addressed in NRS 116. Your insights on this would be appreciated.
6. A board member is to have access to all HOA records. Does the board have a right to the homeowners’ names, addresses and email addresses. I found in California, these records are allowed to board members. Because NRS 116 is silent, are such records to be available to the board?
7. How is the board to communicate with homeowners? Community management companies seem to control the emails and communication that are allowed to be sent to homeowners. How can the board communicate with homeowners? Social media is certainly not the best way, but seems the only option for many HOAs.
A: I will answer each question individually.
■ First let me address your questions about the retreat. NRS 116 does not address retreats nor workshops. Retreats and workshops can be most useful in defining goals and objectives for the association. Generally speaking, you will find the procedures of noticing meetings in your bylaws. Homeowners can attend if the board invites them. Finally, to keep all attendees focused, an agenda is always recommended.
■ Your second question on ballot counting is a good one. Under NRS 116.31034 (15e), the secret ballots are to be opened and counted at the meeting of the owners. Under 15f, no incumbent board members nor any homeowners, whose names are on the ballots, may possess, be given access to or participate in the opening and counting of the ballots. Other than this exception, other homeowners could open and count the ballots. It is not recommended that the community manager open and count ballots.
■ As to your third question on paying the vendor, this should not be a lone decision by the president.
■ As to holding your monthly HOA meeting in the clubhouse of a sub-association, your board should have been included in this decision. Also, your board should seek the opinion of its attorney about taking temperatures and signing waivers. Employees of the sub’s management company can attend your HOA meeting if your board allows it. Under NRS 116.31083 (5), the notice of the meeting must state the time and place of the meeting. With the pandemic, many associations are having virtual board meetings. I would expect this section of the law to be modified in 2021.
■ In addressing your fifth question, please check the governing documents for the master association as to the nomination and election process. Often, the documents will state that there is one director representing one sub-associations on the master board.
■ As to the question of the board having access to homeowners information. Under NRS 116.31175 (4b), records concerning individual homeowners are considered confidential. Now, board members do work with homeowners and, generally speaking, have access to this information. But, they would be required to maintain confidentiality.
■ Finally, I will address your last question about communicating with homeowners. I do not recommend using social media as a way of communicating with homeowners. Many associations have a communication or newsletter committee that produces the newsletter to the homeowners and residents. Most managers would welcome the assistance of board members or homeowners who would be interested in producing newsletters.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager and holds the supervisory community manager certificate with the state of Nevada. She is an author and educator on real estate management. Questions may be sent to email@example.com.