I recently was at the kind of restaurant where you walk up and order your food or coffee at the counter, and then sit in the café area. Two tables away from me was a Board of Directors of a homeowners association discussing covenant violations and delinquent homeowners. Apparently, they meet there for their monthly Board meetings. I was quickly reminded why meeting in a public place is a bad idea!
The Board members weren’t speaking quietly at all. I knew which community they lived in because they mentioned it a couple of times. They were talking loud enough for me to hear the names and addresses of the delinquent homeowners, as well the same information for owners who were violating the covenants. One of the Board members spoke so loudly that other customers in the restaurant turned around to look at him several times. Although I could elaborate as to why this wasn’t good from a legal perspective, suffice it to say that a Board meeting held in a public place is not what we consider “best practices”!
It is certainly better to conduct Board meetings so that members of the general public are not present. Normally, when I or one of our other attorneys meet with a Board, it is at our office, a Board member’s home, a community manager’s office, or in the community clubhouse if they have one. These are ideally suited to conduct Association business. The one wrinkle, however, is because of the open Board meeting requirement which is now included in the Indiana Homeowners Association Act, the meeting location should be able to accommodate those homeowners who want to attend. If the Board meets at the dining room table of the president’s home, it could become very uncomfortable if several homeowners show up. Most Board business should be conducted openly and not behind closed doors. (Remember that the open Board meeting requirement does not apply to matters discussed in executive session.)