A co-op or condo community’s annual meeting is just business, though these gatherings can sometimes be the site of personal acrimony, or feuding between residents. But annual meetings needn’t be a source of friction, and can serve as a place where neighbors find consensus. These gatherings also are mandated by law—co-ops, condominiums and homeowners’ associations are required to hold at least one unit owner or shareholder meeting each year.
The purpose of the annual meeting is to apprise resident shareholders and unit owners of the association’s business, including the state of finances, any upcoming or ongoing capital improvement projects, votes on proposals needing residential approval, to discuss changes in management or staff, and for other urgent business. Annual meetings also give residents a chance to ask questions of their association board and management team, and to raise concerns they may have about the building or how the association itself is being managed.
Too often, though, these meetings become bogged down with residents’ complaints, usually due to owners being uninformed or wrongly informed. A little bit of care and planning in advance of an annual meeting, though, could help residents to avoid such a headache.
When and how an annual meeting takes place varies from community to community, as does the timing of when management is supposed to notify residents of the meeting. If management notifies them too soon, residents might forget about the meeting and not make it to the gathering. If shareholders and unit owners are informed of the meeting too close to the date of it, many won’t have time to attend. That is why notification of the annual meeting is spelled out in the bylaws of a community.
In New Jersey, the requirement of an annual meeting is a regulation of the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA). According to Section 5:20-1.2 of the New Jersey Condominium Act, a condominium board “shall provide for the giving of adequate notice to unit owners of the time and place of all meetings required to be open to all unit owners.” And “adequate” notice as provided under this section, “shall mean written notice at least 48 hours in advance, giving the time, date, location and, to what 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.” Notice must be a) posted prominently on condominium property, and accessible at all times to unit owners; 2) mailed/emailed, telephoned, telegrammed, or hand-delivered to at least two newspapers that have been designated by the governing board; and 3) filed with the person responsible for administering the business office of the association.