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Privilege...or Pain in the Neck? Annual Meetings

Thousands upon thousands of people in New Jersey live in condos, HOAs or co-op buildings. Although it naturally varies from one development to another, many, possibly the majority, of association members pay very little if any attention to the actual business of their board or association.

But there's one time of year that residents can't help but be aware of their board's activity: the time of the annual meeting. For weeks, signs are posted, fliers slipped under doors, e-mails sent. Finally, the big day comes. And, surprise, surprise, large numbers of residents still don't attend! Some buildings or developments will even sponsor raffles or door prizes to entice unit owners to come to annual board meetings.

What exactly is the annual board meeting, and how can management and the board itself make unit owners aware of the benefits of participating—or even make them look forward to going?

The Legal Angle

From a legal standpoint, according to Stephen Kotzas, an attorney with the law firm of Berry Kagan Sahrandnick Kotzas & Riordan in Toms River, the frequency of, and requirement for, board meetings is usually governed by the bylaws, not by the law itself. He says, however, "It's always held a minimum of once a year, but of course it can be held more frequently."

Attorney David Byrne, of the Lawrenceville-based law firm of Stark & Stark, adds that, "There is no requirement that condo or HOA boards meet a certain number or frequency of [annual meetings.] However, New Jersey law requires most binding decisions to be made at open meetings," a requirement that makes open board meetings a necessity.

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