"Openness" and "Transparency" - The Basic Requirements of all HOA Meetings

Both the Arizona Condominium Act ("ACA") and the Planned Community Act ("PCA") contain the following provision:

It is the policy of this state as reflected in this section that all meetings of a condominium, whether meetings of the unit owners' association or meetings of the board of directors of the association, be conducted openly and that notices and agendas be provided for those meetings that contain the information that is reasonably necessary to inform the unit owners of the matters to be discussed or decided and to ensure that unit owners have the ability to speak after discussion of agenda items, but before a vote of the board of directors or members is taken.  Toward this end, any person or entity that is charged with the interpretation of these provisions, including members of the board or directors and any community manager, shall take into account this declaration of policy and shall construe any provision of this section in favor of open meetings.

A.R.S. § 33-1248(F); A.R.S. § 33-1804(F).

Both the ACA and PCA further explicitly provide that all meetings, not just board meetings, just be conducted in an open forum with limited exceptions. "[A]ll meetings of the unit owners' association and the board of directors, and any regularly scheduled committee meetings, are open to all members of the association or any person designated by a member in writing as the member's representative and all members or designated representatives so desiring shall be permitted to attend and speak at an appropriate time during the deliberations and proceedings."

In fact, the Legislature recently amended both the ACA and PCA to require boards to publicly announce the specific circumstances in which a board may go into a closed meeting: "Before entering into any closed portion of a meeting of the board of directors, or on notice of a meeting under subsection D of this section that will be closed, the board shall identify the paragraph under subsection A of this section that authorizes the board to close the meeting."

In other words, HOA meetings generally must be conducted openly and transparently. Why then do so many boards and board members ignore these rules? Why do property managers actively encourage going into closed or executive session to discuss mundane business or non-privileged matters?

As members of a homeowners, condominium, or planned community association, you have the right to demand openness and transparency. You have the right to insist that your association copy with the law.