The board of directors of a community association may have multiple meetings throughout the year. When these board meetings are "open" the members of the association are entitled to attend and observe. Having the right to attend a meeting is meaningless unless a member knows when and where the meeting will be held. Therefore, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 5:20-1.1, et seq., a board must ensure that proper notice requirements are followed.
Adequate Notice. Members of an association must be given adequate notice of open board meetings. In New Jersey adequate notice is defined as "written notice, at least 48 hours in advance, giving the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of any regular, special or rescheduled meeting, other than a conference or working session at which no binding votes are to be taken. . .." This written notice must be:
- posted prominently in at least one place on the property that is accessible at all times to all unit owners, such as a clubhouse bulletin board;
- mailed, telephoned, telegrammed, or hand delivered to at least two newspapers designated by the board or association to receive such notices because they have the greatest likelihood of informing the greatest number of unit owners; and
- filed with the business office of the association.
Annual Notice Requirement. There is also an annual notice requirement. At least once each year, within 7 days following the annual meeting, the board must notify the association members of a schedule of the regular meetings of the board to be held during the year. That schedule shall include the location, if known, and the time and date of each meeting. This notice to the members is satisfied by posting on the property, delivering to newspapers and filing a copy with the association’s business office (see above for more information on each of these methods). For example, if the board determines it will meet on the first Monday of each month, it must post (and maintain) this schedule on the clubhouse bulletin board, deliver it to two newspapers and file it with the management office. If the annual schedule is later revised, within 7 days following the revision, the new schedule must be posted, delivered and filed again.
If the annual notice schedule is posted, delivered and filed as required, and the location, time and date of the meetings are in the notice, the additional 48 hours advance notice is not required. Homeowner involvement is important to a community association, however, and boards should act transparently in conducting association business so giving the additional notice is advisable.
In fact, these are the minimum requirements for giving notice; a board that wants to give extra notice by an email blast to members or by posting a sign on the clubhouse lawn the day of the meeting may certainly do.
Emergency Meetings. On occasion a board must call an emergency meeting and does not have time to give 48 hours notice. If waiting 48 hours for the purpose of providing notice would likely result in substantial harm to the interests of the association, notice is adequate if it is provided as soon as possible following the calling of the meeting by posting, delivering, and filing the notice. In this case, the meeting must be limited to the emergent matter.
Other Types of Meetings. For meetings other than open board meetings, these notice requirements may not apply. Members of the association are not entitled to attend executive session or working session meetings of the board and, therefore, no notice is required to be given to them for such meetings. Meetings of the members, such as an annual meeting, are not the same as open board meetings and these notice provisions do not apply. The notice requirements for the annual meeting and other meetings of the members can usually be found in the association’s by-laws.
Giving proper notice for an open board meeting is important and associations are well advised to strictly follow these requirements as well as additional requirements set forth in its governing documents.