Recording HOA Meetings; Paying HOA Directors – Better Think Twice

I am going to try something new because I get a lot of emails and wish to pass on as much information as I can. What I am trying out is more or less a bullet/quick form of responding without going into excruciating detail. You are welcome to send me follow-up questions which I will try to treat in the same manner. If you want a consultation because you need more information, we can set one up. There is information under the Consultation Button at www.Californiacondo.com.

 

I will start with this question, or perhaps I should say commentary, from a reader:

 

“Since I am new to condo living, I enjoy reading your newsletters, I find them informative, concise & easy to comprehend in a short amount of time.

 

A year ago I was asked if I would take the minutes at an HOA meeting for a stipend. I agreed, provided I could use my recorder to assist me in transcribing. The Mgmt Co Rep. told the President – that should not be permitted because it would open up a whole can of “legal” worms. I’m not sure, is this true???”

 

It is true that the proverbial can of worms has been opened, on two counts, as a matter of fact. First of all, if you are receiving a stipend, in California, it eliminates some of the protections in California law for volunteer board members. In other words, if you are a board member and get paid for your board member duties, whatever they’re paying you is not enough to offset the aspect of the liability that you are accepting as a paid board member. Some of the other worms in this scenario involve failure of tax reporting and payroll deposits. Unless the board member is acting as an independent contractor, legally, without just being called that, the board should be paying taxes on any monies paid for services. By legally, I mean under accounting standards which I will not go into this blog.

 

On the second count, if the board meetings are recorded, the question becomes whose property is it and what does having it in existence mean? If the recording is approved by the board as unofficial board record, then the question becomes whether it can be erased after it is transcribed, or after the secretary uses it to record the minutes. Because, once it is property of the Association, if it is destroyed, someone can make some legal claim of spoiliation of evidence which I will not explain here, but it’s not good. If it is retained, and someone wants a copy of the whole transcript of the meeting, the question becomes are they entitled, and if they are, then the whole tape has to be transcribed and provided you the requester, and then you have opened a can of worms as to who pays the cost of that, how many people are entitled (which would be all owners if you give it to one) and so forth and so on.

 

So, I suggest the board take a look at these things, and you take a look at these things, and seek legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney if you want to minimize the risks as a volunteer board member and adopt a meaningful policy relating to what happens to recordings of meetings if the secretary feels they need one to accurately transcribe the minutes. However, I will say one more thing. If an inexperienced person is acting as secretary and taking notes from a recording, they are extremely likely to include a lot more in the minutes spent should be in the minutes. The minutes of the record of meeting and really, should include only things like the quorum count, the reports that were made, the action items that were considered, the actions that were approved, the actions that were tabled, and adjournment. The minutes should never include any he said, she said, arguments, disputes, disagreements, or detail.

 

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