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What should you do if you're asked to leave an HOA meeting?

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Throughout the past five years, this column has attempted to make sense of the sometimes senseless world of association living. It has focused on both the good and bad points of being involved in the HOA world, and has tried to educate and inform it's readers by interviewing local experts as well as bringing to the forefront some of the detractors of associations.

Now, everyone knows that the monthly meeting of an association is an important way to interact with fellow owners, management, and renters who live in the community. It allows people to not only air their grievances, but see what new and exciting things might be on the horizon. Unfortunately, some HOA boards feel that the residents of the community are enemies of the state, and tend to treat anyone who asks questions at the meetings as a pariah that must be dealt with harshly.

It is this sort of out of control board this brings us to this weeks' question.

Q: How can an HOA president or any board member call the police on a homeowner for sitting in a meeting, advising all it is being recorded by self since minutes are not accurately being taken? Isn't this harassment? Nothing in the documents preclude me from doing so and police said I could continue to record if I wanted to!

Further, since there is only 40 of us inside the gates, the meetings are at the treasurers house and it is being used as a public forum so the Police could not remove me from the House!!

Now the board never notifies me of meetings. A quorum is never satisfied for voting purposes but the same gang of fellows continue to get away with whatever, non-transparent.

When the treasurer use to work as an accountant for Enron...what's that tell you?

-Irate homeowner

A: Naturally, owners should not be ejected from board, committee and membership meetings without a compelling reason to do so.

If an owner is being unruly, threatening or otherwise preventing the meeting from proceeding, it is reasonable to warn him or her to stop the behavior and then to either adjourn the meeting or eject that person from the premises so the meeting may proceed.

However, ejecting someone to silence them is not appropriate and it is surprising that a police officer would actually follow those orders in the absence of any proof that the individual truly warrants being removed.

It sounds as if this reader has other concerns including the overall lack of transparency in his association. That issue can only be resolved through legal or administrative action or by recall of the existing board or election of a new board with a different philosophy on how association operations should be managed.

-Donna DiMaggio Berger
Shareholder, Becker and Poliakoff

In a world where most associations can hardly bring together anyone to attend HOA meetings, this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated or accepted. The best way to conduct business is in the open, with everyone able to see and hear what is being discussed. Odds are that if they don't want it to be heard or recorded, something more is going on that may or may not be legal.

Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County, and join in on the discussion on twitter. If you've had any issues with your HOA that you'd like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know. While you’re at it, please read my articles about local getaways,motorsports, elections, and restaurants.

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