Q&A: Can Everyone Attend Meetings?

Q&A: Can Everyone Attend Meetings?

Q. Understanding that Massachusetts law enables all condo members to attend board meetings, my question is whether this also holds true if meetings are held in a board member's private residence. Are there any guidelines that differ between the two and is there a cap on attendance??

                                     —Feeling Left Out

A. “The Massachusetts Condominium Act does not provide for an open board,” says Stephen Marcus, partner in Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, PC, in Braintree, Massachusetts. “Some boards have open meetings in any event, but they are not required to. While not required in Massachusetts, we encourage boards to have open meetings. It eliminates suspicions that the board is acting in secret. We also think minutes should go to or be accessible to unit owners.

“Keep in mind that board meetings are like selectmen meetings, so we suggest that boards have unit owner questions and comments for either the first half hour or last half hour of the meeting. Unit owners may attend the rest of the meeting, but may only listen to the board conduct its business. Whether held in a larger location or residence, we don’t believe there should be any limit to those who may attend, but it is fair for the board to ask owners prior to meeting if they plan on attending so the board may plan for number of attendees.

“Some states do require open meetings, so the suggestions we give above as best practices apply by law in other states. In all states, whether open meetings are required or not, the board has the right to go into an executive session closed to owners for specific reasons where confidentiality is needed — such as meeting with their attorney to discuss litigation, discussions of personnel, discussion of specific unit owners who are delinquent in the payment of common expenses, etc.  

“Look at your state’s open meeting law for municipalities for the types of discussions where executive session would be appropriate meetings. States that have open meetings for municipal boards refer to them as ‘sunshine laws,’ where generally discussions are held in the open. For states requiring association open meetings, board should not make decisions through e-mail, since owners are to privy to those discussions.”

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  • Can a unit owner/member of a small condo association invite their Personal attorney to an annual meeting? Do the other members , Board or Officers have the right to request thatvthe Attorney leave the meeting ? Thanks
  • I have the same question. If the other members cannot refuse the attendance of a personal attorney at an annual meeting, can the board allow the attorney to be present but not allow the attorney to participate?
  • Seems anyone can attend a meeting if they are designated as a 'proxy' for the owner. (????)
  • We have three trustees that have brought in a management company. I am having significant issues with the management company. I tried to express my grief through emails and in person to the management company to no avail. So I followed up by going to the three trustees who have Stonewall me told me it was not their responsibility and that I should just go back and request the meeting with the same people “the management company “ In this egregious cases. Our building had a massive power failure and star. Our power company came out reviewed it and said it was not there issue. It was our building issue then our management company got an electrician out. They put a generator up against my building right outside my bedroom and my living room, the noise was on Godley even though this generator is supposedly temporary until the work can be fixed they would not move it to a better location. I was forced despite my efforts to resolve the illegal placement of this generator management company refused to move it. I was forced to go to the town to get it removed because it. The town inspector at the meeting with me came out, reviewed the area and told them to move it as it was in it was violating codes. Trustees and management for a special meeting to address our concerns the management company refuse, and I trustees have refused a special meeting. What are my legal rights if I cannot have a respectful exchange with the management company how are the trustees held responsible for arranging a meeting for owners to get a clearer and more transparent idea of what is going on and how this is financially going to impact us, also, to convey our concerns about the management company to the trustees. Am I allowed to request in writing for this meeting to be held by the board of trustees. The board of trustees have told me they have no legal responsibility to hold any special meeting and just keep redirecting me back to the management company. in the meantime, it is causing great hostility and an area of living toxic. What are my rights in getting the trustees to listen to us and our concerns about management.