A.R.S. § 33-1248 and § 33-1804 provide that Board of Directors’ meeting for Homeowners’ Association must be held open to the membership with a few exceptions. The following are frequently asked questions in regards to the applicability of the law and how it affects your HOA.
1. Does Arizona’s broad open meeting law apply to HOA meetings?
No. The Arizona open meeting laws found in A.R.S. §§ 38-431 through 431.09 require that any meeting of any public body must be open to all interested persons, including the public-at-large. However, the AZ Attorney General’s office has consistently opined for decades that HOA’s are not “public bodies” in the context of the open meeting laws. Thus, A.R.S. §33-1804 and the open meeting law for Condominiums are the only state statutes or regulations that specifically govern the open meetings of associations.
2. Is there any difference between the open meeting laws for Planned Community HOAs and Condominium Associations?
No. The meeting laws in A.R.S. §33-1804 (planned unit associations) and §33-1248 (condominium associations) are identical in all substantive respects.
3. Are committee meetings subject to the open meeting laws?
There is a sincere difference of opinions among legal practitioners on this issue. Some say that the statute only addresses instances when members can speak before the board makes decisions, and thus the statute is limited to only those meetings when the board is present. Other attorneys would argue that a committee “meeting” is still a gathering to discuss association business regardless of whether final decisions occur. No case law precedent exists regarding this issue.
4. Would the open meeting law apply to ‘work sessions’ or casual meetings where the board is meeting but does not intend to make any final decisions?
It is generally held that the open meeting law applies to informal, casual, or work sessions which include attendees resulting in a board quorum.
5. Do open meeting laws apply to other forms of discussion, deliberation, and information sharing such as real-time texting, online chatting, or cell phone conferences?
Yes, for certain types of real-time communication. Since the day the open meeting law was introduced in 1994, a number of new and powerful forms of communication have become ubiquitous. While these new forms of communication are important tools that can improve association administration and communication, it is quite possible that the open meeting laws would apply to these communication forms, otherwise an unscrupulous board could simply circumvent open meeting laws by conducting the majority of their business in real time in covert texting or online chats. E-mails do not constitute a meeting under the current version of the open meeting laws.
If you have questions about HOA issues please call Davis Miles McGuire Gardner at 480-733-6800 and ask to speak with Allison Preston.