Many homeowners are looking for ways to make small changes in their lives that lead to fewer negative impacts on the environment. Some choose to bring their own reusable bags to grocery stores; some choose to purchase a hybrid vehicle; some choose to install solar panels to reduce their energy consumption. Likewise, homeowner association board members may be searching for ways to make their homeowner association slightly more environmentally friendly. One simple change that can be made in homeowner associations is paperless board meetings.
While the idea of eliminating all paper from a homeowner association can seem impossible, inspiration can be borrowed from a visit to a college classroom. College classes have become increasingly paperless over the last decade. Students often take notes on laptops, rather than bringing pens and a notebook to class. The syllabus and assignments are often emailed, rather than distributed in class. These ideas can easily be incorporated into an association’s board meetings.
If not prohibited by the governing documents of the association, meeting agendas can be emailed to homeowners and board members. Many people already prefer to receive information regarding their loan statements, checking accounts, and investment accounts electronically, rather than via mail. Additionally, sending agendas by email is both a faster and less costly option for the association. Most people today check their email multiple times a day and will receive the agenda more quickly after it is sent, whereas the same information will not be delivered by the U.S. mail for at least two days. Emailing the agenda is also free for the association and saving on postage can help with a tight budget in today’s economy.
Board members often like to have access to reference information about the association, including the declarations, policies, and/or financial information, on hand during board meetings. This preference can also be accommodated while having a paperless board meeting. Currently, many board members carry this information on paper to the meetings. However, these documents are also available in electronic form. If needed, the association’s management company and/or attorneys’ office can provide homeowners with electronic copies of these documents. Furthermore, electronic copies of governing documents allow the use of the search function to locate relevant sections of the documents quickly, a potential time saver.
Finally, information regarding accounts in collections is also available electronically. The management company and/or attorney’s office can provide electronic copies of status reports and ledgers for use at the board meetings. Having electronic access to the status of past due accounts allows the board to have the most up-to-date information during their meetings while also eliminating the unnecessary use of paper.
The increased use of computers and electronically-stored information can easily be incorporated into homeowner association board meetings. Making these small changes in board meetings can make them both more efficient and more environmentally friendly.