How can you tell an experienced meeting chair from an inexperienced chair before the meeting is even called to order?  There are lots of ways, but one key indicator of an experienced chair is such individual has a copy of the organization’s bylaws close at hand.  Why?  What is in that formal, bureaucratic document that might help someone preside over a homeowner meeting?

Parliamentary Tip:
As the meeting chair, you should always have a copy of your bylaws handy while presiding over a meeting.  Your bylaws enable you to make the right decision on important questions, and enable you to run the meeting in compliance with your corporate documents so that votes taken and elections held during the meeting are valid.

Bylaws contain (among other things) the rules for running a valid meeting.  For example, some of the answers you’ll find in your Bylaws include :

  • Quorum — How many members must be present to hold a valid meeting?
  • Proxies – Are there any limits on proxies and what proxy-holders can vote on?
  • Member qualifications –  Who can vote?  And how many votes does a unit owner have (some condominiums vote by percentage of ownership and other methods)?
  • Board qualifications – who can run for the Board?  Must they be owners of units in the Association?  Must they be current on payment of assessments?
  • Board information:
    • How many people may run for the board?
    • How long are directors’ terms?
    • May they receive compensation?
  • Removal  – How and under what circumstances may board members be removed?

In addition, bylaws often have rules that are unique to one particular association.  Bylaws are not all the same.  So the experienced meeting chair will have read his or her bylaws through before the meeting, and will know what other important rules have to be followed to run a valid meeting.

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