Contributed by: Alexis Switzer
The COVID-19 pandemic lead to many restrictions, including prohibiting the gathering of individuals in large groups. Even now that those restrictions have been relaxed or even lifted, there are lingering concerns regarding the spread of the virus during in person interactions. Consequentially, in-person annual and board meetings have become difficult for condominium and homeowners associations. Many associations have had to pose the question of whether virtual meetings could be used as a substitute for in-person meetings under the applicable state law and the governing documents of the community.
Kentucky law does not specifically address virtual meetings as a substitute for in-person meetings within organized community regimes. Thus, since there is no restriction against it, virtual meetings may be held as long as proper notice is given to all members in the community and any other requirements laid out in a community’s governing documents are met. However, a community may face backlash if holding a virtual meeting causes a member or members to be kept from participating, i.e. casting his or her vote, since a community’s declaration likely gives the members the right to attend and participate in annual meetings. Causing a member to be prohibited from doing so would be a violation of the declaration.
Although the law permits electronic meetings, condominium and homeowners associations must carefully review their governing documents to determine whether they impose any restrictions on virtual meetings. For example, if a declaration mandates that a meeting must be held at a specific location, i.e. the association’s clubhouse, the argument that a virtual meeting may be substituted for an in-person meeting my be difficult to make. In these cases, the association may want to consider amending their documents to allow for virtual meetings or more flexibility of meeting location (that is, once they are allowed and comfortable with meeting in person again).
Assuming a virtual meeting is permitted in a given association, if a meeting is held virtually, it is important that the association abide by the same meeting, notice, and any other requirements set forth in the governing documents as if the meeting had been held in person.
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