Understandably, Offit Kurman attorneys have been getting a lot of inquiries from our community association clients and management companies on what to do about the COVID-19 virus, how they should respond and communicate to homeowners. CAI (the Community Association Institute) has published some guidance on its website, along with a sample letter that can be adapted for use to your community associations.
HOAs with annual meetings scheduled in the near future have asked about the possibility of holding “virtual meetings” of members. That’s generally not allowed under North Carolina law unless there is very specific language in the bylaws addressing the format and protocol for such meetings. My colleague Jim Slaughter, a Registered Parliamentarian, has published an article on this topic that can be found here:
As Jim notes, circumstances may be so urgent as to justify holding a virtual meeting, understanding the risk that someone may later challenge the validity of any action taken at such a meeting.
For North Carolina HOAs, there is a specific statute in the North Carolina Nonprofit Corporations Act that allows boards of directors to conduct meetings via teleconference. Still, there is no corresponding statute for meetings of members.
- 55A-8-20. Regular and special meetings.
(a) The board of directors may hold regular or special meetings in or out of this State.
(b) Unless the articles of incorporation or bylaws provide otherwise, the board of directors may permit any or all directors to participate in a regular or special meeting by, or conduct the meeting through the use of, any means of communication by which all directors participating may simultaneously hear each other during the meeting. A director participating in a meeting by this means is deemed to be present in person at the meeting.
Can A Board Disclose the Identity of a Person Exposed to COVID-19? Another topic of concern is what type of information can and should a board disclose to its members when it learns of a possible Covid-19 infection. This may be less a concern in single-family HOAs than in condominiums or townhomes, where proximity to other people is a genuine concern.
We believe that if a board learns that one of its community’s members is infected, that the board should let owners know that there is a possibility of exposure to the virus; however, we do not advise that the board discloses the identity of the person or that the board attempts to impose different requirements on an infected person (such as limiting access to community mailboxes). While we recognize the pressures boards face from members who want to protect themselves and their families, we cannot treat people with a virus differently than other people. These are people’s homes, and there is no less of a right to be sick at one’s home than there is a right to be free from the virus.
ABOUT MIKE HUNTER
Mike Hunter’s practice focuses on community and condominium association law. He represents more than 700 associations across North Carolina.
Mike’s background includes real estate and litigation, with a concentration in the area of creditors’ rights, including debt collection, bankruptcy, foreclosure, lien enforcement, and collateral recovery.
From 1995 to 2006, Mike served as an assistant attorney for the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, primarily in the areas of civil process and judgment enforcement.
ABOUT BEN KARB
In his HOA and condominium practice, Ben regularly advises HOAs and condominium associations across a broad spectrum of issues, including the interpretation of covenants, contractual matters, and collection of assessments. He routinely attends membership meetings and assists communities with the ever-difficult process of amending their governing documents. He has formed numerous HOAs and condominium associations, and regularly drafts and amends Declarations and corporate documents for his clients.
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