This year, many homeowners associations have been navigating through the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. One aspect many associations are struggling with is how to better reach their residential community during these socially distanced times. Many community associations have bylaws in place to ensure all resident notifications are in print. But how many associations typically deliver print communications flies in the face of today’s contact-free, socially-distanced environment. We’ve outlined how you can still inform your community while following decs/bylaws and rules through electronic correspondence.
If your association hasn’t done so already, it is necessary to pass an electronic correspondence amendment so you can send everything via email. Failing to pass the electronic correspondence amendment could make your email notices null and void. For instance, something as simple as emailing out a rule amendment on overnight parking without the electronic correspondence amendment in place, without sending a physical piece of mail is a violation. The rule would be null and void.
It’s important to communicate in a timely way with homeowner communities, and this enables that. Associations are able to utilize technology per Section 18.8 of the Illinois Condominium Property Act, meaning that any notices, votes and approvals can be accomplished through “acceptable technological means.” The list of acceptable technological means includes online, blogs, newsletters, and emails just so long as the method is secure and reliable.
Once you have the electronic correspondence rule in place, you must follow it. Post-pandemic, you may find it best practice to still post or print some communications to accompany the email notification. But from now on, email will always be necessary. Send an email in order to:
- pass amendments
- schedule or cancel board meetings
- update on projects, such as driveway paving and instructions to park elsewhere for 24 hours
- notify of maintenance
- send newsletters and community updates
- alert regarding snow
Project notifications are especially important during COVID. Many more residents are home most or all of the day, so it is crucial to warn, especially those working from home, of potential disruptions like water shutoffs, yard work, or building maintenance. In addition, safety guidelines have become more important to email about.
Annual meeting notices and voting
Many homeowners associations have postponed their annual meetings due to state laws that prohibit group gatherings. It is important for associations to hold safe, legally compliant, and productive meetings, and doing so via video conference is very feasible. Associations can proceed with agenda items without putting board members or the association at risk by communicating via email and conducting electronic voting. Voting electronically is permissible, provided that the association attorney creates and maintains a record of it.
The best way members of the community can stay informed is by routinely checking email, and making sure the email on file is up to date. Board associations are not legally required to send renters the notifications. However, it is best practice to do so, especially with the increase of working from and being at home. Their landlord mail fail to pass the communication to them, and it can make things more difficult to manage if they aren’t aware and on board.