As a result of superb effort of CAI’s Virginia Legislative Action Committee and its lobbyist Virginia common interest community associations will benefit from amendments to laws proposed by Governor Ralph S. Northam. These changes, adopted by the General Assembly on April 22, 2020, override requirements in the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and Virginia Condominium Act which require at least two board members be physically present in the same location in order to convene a meeting properly.
As a result of the new law during a Governor-declared state of emergency boards of common interest community associations may meet virtually without physically assembling. In order to convene virtual meetings properly, care must be taken to satisfy requirements concerning notice, member access and meeting minutes. This emergency legislation applies only during a Governor-declared state of emergency – once the state of emergency concludes, boards must comply with physical assembly requirements established in the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act and the Condominium Act.
- Put a finding in the minutes that you are convening the meeting based on the emergency provisions provided by law and then recite “the nature of the declared emergency makes it impracticable or unsafe for the governing board to assemble in a single location and the purpose of meeting is to discuss or transact the business necessary to continue operations of the common interest community association and the discharge of its lawful purposes, duties, and responsibilities.”
- You still need to give the same notice of a Board Meeting as previously provided and you need to have minutes or the recorded meeting available as you would ordinarily.
- There still needs to be an opportunity for the owners to have a forum so that means providing them with access whatever the meeting platform is so that they may similarly participate. This may be tricky for executive session, primarily ending it and coming back into an open session, and may involve 2 ongoing teleconferences.
Below is the verbatim text of the new legislation which creates special rules with regard to meetings during a declared emergency period for community association boards of directors and for public bodies, such as city councils and planning commissions. The portions of the text below in italics show the provisions that pertain to community associations:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any public body, including any state, local, regional, or regulatory body, or a governing board as defined in §54.1-2345 of the Code of Virginia may meet by electronic communication means without a quorum of the public body or any member of the governing board physically assembled at one location when the Governor has declared a state of emergency in accordance with § 44-146.17, provided that:
(i) the nature of the declared emergency makes it impracticable or unsafe for the public body or governing board to assemble in a single location;
(ii) the purpose of meeting is to discuss or transact the business statutorily required or necessary to continue operations of the public body or common interest community association as defined in § 54.1-2345 of the Code of Virginia and the discharge of its lawful purposes, duties, and responsibilities;
(iii) a public body shall make available a recording or transcript of the meeting on its website in accordance with the timeframes established in §§ 2.2-3707 and 2.2-3707.1 of the Code of Virginia; and
(iv) the governing board shall distribute minutes of a meeting held pursuant to this subdivision to common interest community association members by the same method used to provide notice of the meeting.
A public body or governing board convening a meeting in accordance with this subdivision shall:
- Give notice to the public or common interest community association members using the best available method given the nature of the emergency, which notice shall be given contemporaneously with the notice provided to members of the public body or governing board conducting the meeting;
- Make arrangements for public access or common interest community association members access to such meeting through electronic means including, to the extent practicable, videoconferencing technology. If the means of communication allows, provide the public or common interest community association members with an opportunity to comment; and
- Public bodies must otherwise comply with the provisions of § 2.2-3708.2 of the Code of Virginia.
The nature of the emergency, the fact that the meeting was held by electronic communication means, and the type of electronic communication means by which the meeting was held shall be stated in the minutes of the public body or governing board.”
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The Community Associations Law Team