E-Meetings of Boards and Membership Approved for Virginia Condominiums and POAs
In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, the Virginia General Assembly passed emergency legislation temporarily allowing condominium and property owners’ association boards of directors to hold meetings by electronic means during the declared state of emergency. Under this approach, boards could meet via video-conference or other electronic means as long as unit and lot owners could attend electronically to witness the proceedings and take part in owner comment periods.
Now the Virginia General Assembly has made this approach permanent and expanded the concept to include membership meetings, regardless of the pandemic emergency. The legislature approved House Bill 1816 in late February, and it was signed by the Governor on February 25, 2021. The text of the new law can be reviewed here.
The law becomes effective July 1 and expressly allows meetings of both the membership and boards to be held electronically. Here is a summary of the provisions:
- The law allows meetings of property owners’ associations and condominium unit owners’ associations, as well as their boards of directors and committees, to be held entirely or partially by electronic means, provided that the board has adopted guidelines for the use of electronic means for such meetings.
- The law requires that such guidelines ensure that persons accessing such meetings are authorized to do so and that persons entitled to participate in such meetings have an opportunity to do so.
- The law also grants authority to association boards to determine whether any such meeting will be held entirely (or partially) by electronic means.
- The law amends the definition of “electronic means” to provide that a meeting conducted by electronic means includes a meeting conducted via teleconference, videoconference, Internet exchange, or other electronic methods.
- The law allows members of property owners’ associations and condominium associations to vote at meetings of such associations by absentee ballot (unless expressly prohibited by the governing documents), and allows members to vote in person, by proxy, or by absentee ballot by electronic means, provided that the board has adopted guidelines for such voting.
- Finally, the law provides that if a vote, consent, or approval required to be obtained by secret ballot is accomplished through electronic means, the procedure shall protect the identity of the voter, and provides that if the electronic means cannot protect the identity of the voter, another means of voting shall be used.
As noted above, the new law becomes effective July 1, 2021. Be on the lookout for our firm’s annual Virginia Legislative Update, where we will include some additional information about this new law and other legislation impacting associations. In the meantime, if you have questions about implementing the process set forth in these new provisions, please contact the attorney representing your community association.
Legal Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of each case and each association’s governing documents. Also, it is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of all legal considerations, nor should it be used to replace the individualized advice of your legal counsel.