Email and HOA Board Action

There are very few volunteer homeowner association boards that do not communicate via electronic mail. Although most board members know not to take any board action via email, the line between casual communication and official board action easily can be blurred. As general counsel for homeowner associations, I routinely advise boards that to the highest degree possible, they should reduce email communication. However, practically speaking, I understand board members are like just about every other member of American business culture who rely upon email as a valued communication tool and timesaving mechanism. The reason email between board members should be reduced or eliminated altogether is because association board action must be conducted in an official meeting and not conducted “off the cuff” outside the presence of association members.

  • Notice: Homeowner association board meetings must be properly noticed and open to all association members (with limited exceptions for emergency and executive sessions) (RCW 24.03.120; ORS 65.214).  Oregon law allows for notice of meetings to be sent electronically, while Washington requires notice via U.S. Mail for condominium associations and as noted in the bylaws (including electronic notice, if prescribed) for PUD homeowner associations.
  • Meetings via Consent (Oregon only): Unless the articles of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise, action to be taken at an association board meeting may be taken without a meeting if the action is taken by all the members entitled to vote on the action. The action must be evidenced by one or more written consents describing the action taken, signed by all the members entitled to vote on the action, and delivered to the association for inclusion in the minutes or filing with the corporate records. Action taken under this Oregon Nonprofit Corporations Act section (ORS 65.211) is effective when the last member signs the consent, unless the consent specifies an earlier or later effective date.
  • Alternative Meeting Methodology: Except as otherwise restricted by an Association’s articles of incorporation or bylaws, board members may participate in a meeting by conference telephone or similar communications equipment so that all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other at the same time. Participation by this method constitutes presence in person at a meeting.

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