5 tips on how to deal with it
Consumer Protection Association
Wohnen im Eigentum – Contribution
Since the owners' meeting is the supreme decision-making body of any home owners' association (HOA) and decides on the most important measures for the coming year as well as the annual business plan and the annual accounts, this is the most important event of the association. However, your HOA and your property manager must of course comply with official regulations or prohibitions and in such cases, postpone the owners' meeting until a later date. Small HOAs will be less affected by this than large ones with more than 10 or even several hundred owners.
According to the law, there is a general obligation to convene an owners' meeting at least once a year.
1. Issue power of attorney and instructions on voting
If you do not wish to attend the owners' meeting in person because of fear of contagion, you can usually give co-owners, advisory boards or (only in an emergency) the property manager written authorisation to exercise your voting rights. It is best if you first take a look at the rules of your HOA, as they may contain rules on the transfer of voting rights. In particular, owners who have cold symptoms or belong to a risk group should make use of the possibility of transferring voting rights. In this context, you should always give the proxy concrete instructions on how to vote on your behalf.
2. Take safety precautions prior to the owners' meeting
If the owners' meeting is not postponed by the property manager due to the current situation, you should take precautions in advance to minimise the risk of infection. Ask the manager and advisory board in advance to ensure that sufficient free space is available in the meeting room to ensure the recommended safety distance between those present. In order to minimise the risk of infection during an owners' meeting, it is also advisable to make disinfectant available and point out its use before entering the room.
3. Online meeting or remote participation ?
An online meeting of owners can only be held by means of telecommunication if this has been agreed upon in the HOAs statues. This also applies to the online participation of individual apartment owners in the owners' meeting by connecting via a video-call or online conferencing tool. At HomeBeat.Live we use zoom.us, a web conferencing tool that's easy to use and also offers automatic recording. We're currently also working on a voting tool, so stay tuned!
Prepare for the future and explicitly allow remote participation or web-based owner association meetings at the next convention.
Tip: Use HomeBeat.Live "Messages" to create a thread for each topic prior to the meeting, only visible to owners. That way you can achieve a consensus earlier and an efficient meeting.
4. Observe regulations and decrees issued by the authorities
As regulations to contain the viral spread of COVID-19 are currently changing on a daily basis, you should inform yourself before the owners' meeting whether there are any new decrees by your municipality or regulations by the respective authorities in regards to holding events and meetings. If necessary, immediately inform the property manager and the advisory board if current planning is non-compliant.
5. Are decisions subject to appeal?
If an owners' meeting takes place in violation of official orders, the question arises whether the resolutions passed there can be challenged in court or are even null and void. If necessary, resolutions can be challenged. In particular, if the outcome would have been significantly different due to the number of participants or different voting-rights ratios. However, as we are in unchartered legal territory, no reliable prognosis is possible as to how the courts would assess such cases.
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