In community associations, owners are permitted to speak on topics related to the agenda. It is not unusual for owners to wander off topic and air a grievance they have with management, board members, projects, landscaping, pest control and a number of other association matters with which they are dissatisfied. It is their time to speak. The board should allow dissenting voices to be heard in the public forum of an open board meeting. There are rules limiting the amount of time the owner is permitted to speak, record or even videotape the meetings, but silencing an owner is not going to help. They will find another way to be heard. Please don’t talk while the owner has the floor. It is disrespectful, and it reinforces the notion that the board does not represent the member’s interests.
In my experience, the best way to handle the “open forum” or “town hall” portion of the meeting is to listen, take notes, and respond to the owner after the meeting, or at the earliest, reasonable opportunity. This is not the time to rebut, defend or refute any criticisms offered by an owner who believes he has been mistreated, unrepresented or ignored.
Board members: Owners time to speak is your time to listen.
Endeavor to persevere.
Tanoa Lynne Poirier is the Managing Principal at Poirier Enterprises Inc., specializing in the management of community associations, commercial and investment properties, and individual residences in South Florida.
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