Association (both property owners’ association and condominium association) meetings are typically held at the community clubhouse or other local building. However, with the increasing availability and utility of technology, virtual meetings are becoming more commonplace.
Virginia’s General Assembly (Virginia’s state legislature) recently passed legislation, House Bill 1205 (the “Amendment”), amending the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act, that may increase the use of virtual meetings for property owners’ associations in the Commonwealth. Note: property owners’ associations are typically non-stock corporations, subjecting them to the Virginia Nonstock Corporation Act.
House Bill 1205, which goes into effect on July 1, 2018, provides that nonstock corporations may conduct annual and special meetings of members via electronic means, provided that governing documents (articles of incorporation and bylaws) do not require the meetings to take place at a particular location. If such condition is met, the nonstock corporation may hold the meeting entirely via virtual means and not at a physical venue.
The Amendment does not alter the notice requirements for such meetings. The Amendment requires the nonstock corporation to adopt reasonable procedures and guidelines consistent with the Amendment. Specifically, the Amendment requires the corporation to implement reasonable measures to (i) verify that each person participating remotely is a member or member’s proxy, and (ii) provide members a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting and vote on the matters submitted to the owners.
Electronic meetings offer an array of benefits, for example, convenience and reduced venue and maintenance costs. Moreover, electronic meetings may facilitate increased participation of busy and non-resident owners, whose circumstances and schedules may prevent them from attending an in-person meeting.
Electronic meetings are not without their potential downsides, however. Technological difficulties may make such meetings impractical. Cost may also be an issue in setting up and hosting virtual meetings. Additionally, associations may need to consider cost, availability, and accessibility issues with regard to owners.
It is worth noting that the Amendment does not provide much guidance as to how to organize and implement virtual meetings. Accordingly, property owners’ associations should take care to discuss these requirements with their attorney.