Under Chapter 209 of the Texas Property Code, residential subdivision HOAs are required to have ‘open’ board meetings, meaning that the members of the HOA (i.e., the property owners) have the right to attend, but not speak, at said board meetings. This requirement does not extend to non-owners (such as renters) or members of the public.
The HOA board does have the right to adjourn and reconvene in a closed, executive session to consider the following matters:
- Personnel issues
- Pending or threatened litigation
- Contract negotiations
- Enforcement actions
- Legal advice and confidential communications with the HOA’s attorney
- Matters involving invasion of privacy
- Matters that are to remain confidential at the request of the affected parties and by agreement of the board
Any decisions made in closed sessions must be summarized orally, in general terms, at the next open meeting and must be recorded in the minutes. This summary must also include a general explanation of any expenditures that were approved in the executive session.
HOA Meeting Notice Requirements
This open meeting statute also requires that HOA boards give owners advance notice of the date, time, location, and general subject of all board meetings, including a general description of any matters to be considered in executive session.
The board may take actions without having a board meeting, in which case the notice and open meeting requirements do not apply. However, all board members must be able to express their opinions and to vote, and the action cannot involve any of the following items, which must be considered and voted on at an open board meeting:
- Damage assessments
- Initiation of foreclosure actions
- Initiation of enforcement actions (except temporary restraining orders or violations involving a threat to health or safety)
- Increases in assessments
- Levying special assessments
- Appeals from denials of architectural control approval requests
- Suspending the rights of an owner before the owner has an opportunity to address the board on the issue
- Lending or borrowing money
- Adopting or amending a dedicatory instrument (i.e., the HOA’s governing documents)
- Approval of an annual budget or budget amendment that increases the budget by more than ten percent
- Selling or purchasing real property
- Filling a board vacancy
- Electing officers
- Constructing capital improvements (other than repairing, replacing, or enhancing existing capital improvements)
It is important to note that the open meeting statute that applies to HOAs is not the same as the Texas Open Meetings Act, which only applies to governmental bodies (such as town councils and zoning boards) and a small number of HOAs that are located in heavily populated areas and base their assessments, in whole or in part, on local property tax values (or have done so at some point in the past).
Understanding and complying with applicable federal, state, and local laws, including the open meeting statute discussed in this article, is essential for every HOA board. It will give peace of mind to both board members and community members and can ensure that the board will not get into legal trouble down the road.