DC Council Approves Virtual Condominium Membership Meetings
There is big news for DC condominium associations regarding their ability to hold virtual annual membership meetings. After emergency COVID legislation allowing virtual meetings had expired, the DC Council has finally re-authorized electronic meetings for DC condominium associations effective immediately.
Since 2014, DC condominium boards of directors have been able to hold meetings virtually; however, nothing in the Condominium Act allowed virtual membership meetings, thus requiring that they be held in person. During the height of the COVID19 pandemic, the DC Council passed emergency legislation temporarily changing the law to allow condominium associations to hold virtual membership meetings during the Public Health Emergency. However, that authorization expired with the declaration of Public Health Emergency on July 25, 2021.
Since that time, condominium associations have been caught in limbo between complying with the Condominium Act’s in-person meeting requirements and potentially exposing members to rebounding pandemic infection rates. Many associations opted to hold “hybrid” meetings with limited in-person attendance and significant participation from members via virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, with proxies assigned to the few people attending in person. This was a workable but somewhat awkward solution.
Fortunately, the DC Council was made aware that condominium associations had been left in this difficult position and finally responded. Legislation authorizing entirely virtual membership meetings was included in the Post-Public Health Emergency Protections Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2021, which was approved by the DC Council and signed by the Mayor on October 25, 2021. This law will be effective for 90 days (through January 23, 2022), hopefully giving time for permanent legislation to be adopted.
The new language of the Act, added in Section 1903.03, is as follows:
“(f) Notwithstanding any language contained in this act or in the condominium instruments:
(1) The executive board may authorize unit owners to submit votes by electronic transmission up to 7 days before the scheduled date of any meeting of the unit owners, and unit owners who submit votes during such period shall be deemed to be present and voting in person at such meeting.
(2) (A) Meetings of the unit owners’ association, board of directors, or committees may be conducted or attended by telephone conference, video conference, or similar electronic means. If a meeting is conducted by telephone conference, video conference, or similar electronic means, the equipment or system used must permit any unit owner in attendance to hear and be heard by, and to communicate what is said by, all other unit owners participating in the meeting. Any unit owner, board member, or committee member attending such meeting shall be deemed present for quorum purposes.
(B) A link or instructions on how to access an electronic meeting shall be included in the notice required under subsection (a) of this section.
(C) Any matters requiring a vote of the unit owners’ association at an annual or regular meeting may be set by the executive board for a vote, and a ballot may be delivered with the notice required under subsection (a) of this section. The executive board may set a reasonable deadline for a ballot to be returned to the association.”
The new provisions will allow fully virtual meetings, provided the notice and technical requirements noted above are complied with. In addition, the legislation contains provisions expanding options for obtaining votes of the membership. We encourage all of our DC clients to review the new provision and their current practices to see if virtual meetings and expanded voting options are something that may be useful to their association. If so, you may wish to consult with your attorney to ensure that the implementation is carried out in accordance with the law, usually via adoption of a board resolution memorializing these standards.