NOTE: This post reflects our opinions and ideas and should not be taken as legal advice or professional guidance. References to language in the Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Code are based on our reading and laymen’s interpretation of these documents. As always, we strongly encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding the interpretation of law.
Board meeting agendas and meeting minutes are a key part of condominium associations’ official records. For unit owners not actively involved with the association, they are the primary way to follow along with the board’s activities. Given this, it is important that the board produce quality agendas and meeting minutes. Generally, these two documents should provide sufficient detail so that a unit owner with no previous knowledge of the property will understand what the board is considering and the reasoning behind board actions. Agendas and meeting minutes are also reviewed by the association’s CPA during audits, and are some of the primary documents the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) examines to resolve complaints against associations. Lastly, new managers or board members use meeting minutes to obtain insight into past association issues. In sum, having detailed agendas and meeting minutes can prove invaluable.
There is significant confusion around how agendas and meeting minutes should be formatted, and what information they must contain. The Florida Statutes provide little guidance on these topics, leaving it to the boards and their managers to determine what is appropriate. Many standard formats (i.e., Robert’s Rules of Order) are used and often the community’s bylaws will provide guidelines. The board is obligated to follow any agenda, meeting minutes or board meeting format requirements outlined in their governing documents. That being said, if your documents indicate that Robert’s Rules should be followed, the board should review these Rules and make reasonable decisions about how to apply them to a casual condominium board meeting. For example, there is no need to stand to make a motion and no need for the president to recognize a board member before they speak despite what Robert’s Rules tells us.
This post will outline key considerations when constructing a format for your agendas and meeting minutes. It should be read in conjunction with my post on unit owner rights and association responsibilities at board meetings. We will discuss an appropriate and abbreviated version of Robert’s Rules for association meetings in a separate post.
Florida Statute 718.112(2)(c) provides the following agenda requirements:
- All regular board meeting agendas must be posted visibly on the condominium property at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting. NOTE: Members’ meetings (e.g., annual meeting), budget meetings and certain other meetings require additional advanced notice.
- If there is no condominium property available where notices may be posted, the board must mail or email (if electronic consent form has been received) the agenda to all unit owners 14 days in advance of the meeting.
- The board must adopt an official location for posting agendas on property.
- Any item that will be discussed by the board at a meeting must be listed on the agenda.
- If 20% or more of a community’s members petition to have an item on the agenda, the board must add this item to an agenda within 60 days of receipt of the petition.
- Board meetings held in the event of an emergency may be held without a previously posted agenda.
- Items not listed on an agenda may be taken up at a meeting on an emergency basis by a vote of a majority plus one of the board members.
NOTE: The DBPR has reprimanded associations for holding “emergency” meetings and discussing “emergency” items that are not true emergencies. If the board can wait 48 hours for proper notice to be posted before discussing the item, then the board should do so.
The above Florida Statute requirements do not provide any guidance on how a meeting agenda should be structured. This is up to the board to decide. I recommend that an agenda format be approved by the board and used consistently. To better inform the unit owners, I also recommend that the agenda include a brief sentence on the purpose of each agenda item. For example, an agenda may list “Landscaping” as one of the items but to a unit owner that may mean very little. An agenda item like this is much more informative: “Landscaping: the board is considering proposals to replace all plants surrounding the front fountain”. Most management companies have their own agenda formats but the board can certainly request changes to that format.
Below, I have listed the primary sections of a board meeting agenda with some guidance on each item. They are listed below in the order which I would recommend they be listed on the agenda and addressed at the meeting.
NOTE: We will gladly provide a template agenda upon request.
1. Meeting Date, Time and Location: This information must be included on every posted agenda.
2. Call to Order, Proof of Quorum, Proof of Notice & Roll Call: This item should be the first item at every meeting and is primarily a formality. The president will call the meeting to order, specify the time, and confirm that the agenda was properly posted at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. The board members present should state their names and positions to confirm a quorum has been obtained.
3. Special Speakers or Guests: Sometimes boards will request special guests attend a meeting. For example, the association may request that its insurance broker come to a meeting to discuss insurance policy renewal. I generally recommend listing any agenda items relating to guests at the top of the agenda so that the guest may conduct their business and then leave without having to sit through a long meeting.
4. Prior Meeting’s Minutes: Minutes from the previous board meeting should be reviewed and approved by the board. If your community follows Robert’s Rules, they are required to be read aloud. To avoid this, the board should receive and make changes to draft minutes in advance of the meeting. If done this way, they do not need to be read aloud. Getting draft minutes to the board for review within a few days of a meeting really helps with accuracy as the information is fresh in the members’ minds.
5. Manager/ Board Member/ Committee Reports: If the manager, a board member (typically the president) or committee head wishes to provide an update on specific items, they should be listed on the agenda. Further, I would recommend a brief listing of the topics they will discuss. Just listing “President’s Report” could be used as a catch all agenda item during which the president/ board may talk about any association topic. In my opinion, this does not comply with the spirit of the Florida Statutes.
6. Treasurer’s Report/ Financial Statements Review: The association’s most recent monthly (or quarterly) financial statements should be reviewed and approved at each meeting. Any items the board may need to vote on relating to collection efforts (e.g., a vote to lien a unit) should also be listed as an agenda item (specific unit numbers may be listed).
7. Amenities Use & Voting Rights Suspensions: As discussed in this post, boards must vote to suspend the amenities use rights or voting rights of unit owners in arrears. As such, this should be listed as an agenda item (specific unit numbers may be listed).
8. Unit Owner Comments/ Questions/ Concerns: As discussed in our post on unit owner rights at board meeting, unit owners have the right to speak on any agenda item. I recommend listing an agenda item specifically for this purpose near the beginning of the meeting.
9. Old and New Business: This section should include any business the board wishes to discuss. Keep in mind that the agenda should include all discussion items not just those that the board plans to take a final vote on at the meeting.
10. Email Vote Ratification: While boards should try to avoid voting by email entirely (see this post for more information), if the board does vote via email I recommend that the item be included in the next meeting’s agenda and ratified at the meeting.
11. Adjournment: Similar to #2 above, this is a formality. The time of adjournment should be specified.
According to Florida Statute 718.111, meeting minutes must be taken for each board meeting. In my opinion this includes those meetings not open to unit owners (though minutes should be brief). Further, minutes must be retained for at least 7 years and must include how each board member voted on each item including if the board member abstained from voting. These are the only requirements for meeting minutes per Chapter 718. Robert’s Rules provide guidelines on preparation of meeting minutes but otherwise the style and content of the meeting minutes is up to the board.
I recommend the following as it relates to constructing meeting minutes:
1. Use the meeting’s agenda as a base for the meeting minutes.
2. Include meeting start and end times.
3. List the board members, unit owner and other guests in attendance (including those present by phone)
4. Record the meeting and listen to the tape while drafting the minutes to ensure accuracy. Tapes may be destroyed once meeting minutes are approved.
5. Ensure the minutes are sufficiently thorough for a unit owner not present at the meeting to understand what actions were taken by the board and why.
6. Transcribe the specific wording of each motion including who voted in favor of or against the motion.
7. Include any identified board member or manager conflicts of interest.
8. Briefly summarize any discussions the board had that did not end in a vote.
9. Do not include board member quotes or the specific opinions of one board member (unless requested by the board member).
10. If email votes were ratified at the meeting, Include copies of the email chain showing the vote with the meeting minutes.
The board of my association has begun attaching a “status update” document to our meeting minutes which I think is very helpful. This document specifies what actions have occurred on each agenda item from the time of the last meeting to the time of the current meeting. For example, if in last month’s meeting the board voted to re-landscape an area of the property, the “status update” document (which is provided to the board for review and approval at the current meeting along with the draft minutes of the prior meeting) would state something like: “Landscapers removed all old plants and have replaced all irrigation piping. New plants are scheduled to be installed next week”. This provides and straightforward way for unit owners to obtain updates on the status of past agenda items.
Hopefully this overview of agendas and minutes has been helpful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Emily Shaw is a condominium homeowner in Tampa, Florida and a Director of VERA Property Management, a firm providing full-service community association management in the Tampa Bay Area as well as consulting, financial and legal services to all Florida community associations.