Q&A: What’s the Secret?

Q. Many owners have questions about what happens at the monthly board meetings. Our board refuses to release any meeting minutes to the owners. Also, the board has told me that they do not record in the minutes who voted for what. Can they do that?

                                  — Feeling Shut Out

A. “It is good business practice for boards to keep minutes of the board and unit owner meetings,” notes Michael Merrill, Principal of Merrill & McGeary, a law firm  in Boston. “It may also be a requirement of the condominium documents.

“The detail of the minutes is up to the board to determine in its discretion, and in general, the minutes are not intended to be verbatim recitations of what the discussion at the meeting was, but rather a short summary. The summary would include the items on the agenda and any votes taken. Whether or not a roll call of the votes cast by members is recorded in the minutes is up to the members of the board. There is no legal requirement that each member’s vote be recorded in the minutes of a meeting.

“If meeting minutes are kept, then pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 183A Section 10, the minutes must be made available to the unit owners upon request.

“Some boards may keep separate minutes of meetings — for example, one set of minutes for the ordinary business of the association and then a second set of what are called ‘executive minutes,’ which deal with agenda items confidential to the board such as litigation strategy or personnel matters. Often executive minutes are not released to unit owners while the confidential matter is proceeding.

“In general, in condominiums more communication with unit owners is better than less and distribution of meeting minutes is a good way to keep unit owners informed of the business of the association.”

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