Banish the Phrase “I So Move” from Meetings

A prior article examined Why the Chair Never Asks for Old Business. Let’s take a look at another phrase that’s used too often in meetings when it should be avoided–“I so move.” Sometimes at a board or membership meeting following the remarks of a member or a committee report, the speaker or another member will say “So moved!” or “I so move.” For only 2 or 3 words, few phrases can lead a business meeting into more confusion and trouble. For organizations that follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition), the phrase “I so move” only appears once. And that’s in … Continue reading

Huge Jump in Condominium Insurance Premiums

Here’s an interesting (and frightening) insurance article from The Wall Street Journal. The report seems available on the subscribers’ only site as well as generally online, so here’s a link that should work: Big Jump in Insurance Costs Strikes Condos. One association’s insurance renewal went up four times with 12 carriers refusing to even quote a policy, likely due to the many recent natural disasters and higher rebuilding costs. Industry statistics show average condo insurance increases of 20% with some being 300% to 1,000%. And such increases come on the heals of some states requiring greater expenditures by condominiums as … Continue reading

Who Was Robert and Why Do his Rules Rule?

Originally appeared as Who Was Robert and Why Do his Rules Rule? from the May 23, 2023 Presbyterian Outlook. As an attorney and professional parliamentarian, I’m sometimes asked, “Who was Robert and why do his rules rule?” It’s a timely question. Henry Martyn Robert, the original author of Robert’ Rule of Order, died 100 years ago on May 11, 1923. Since that time, versions of his parliamentary manual have come to dominate meetings. While other parliamentary manuals are available, Robert’s Rules of Order is the 800-pound gorilla of the parliamentary world. It is the most popular and easiest-to-locate book on meeting procedure. Most … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – February 28, 2024

House Select Committee on Homeowners’ Associations Issues Final Report Today (Wednesday, February 28) was the fourth and final meeting of the NC House Select Committee on Homeowners’ Associations. As a reminder, this Committee was created by House Bill 311 (see NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 9, 2023) and tasked with examining planned communities and condominium associations, including: The Committee was instructed to provide a final report to the General Assembly on its study, including any proposed legislation, on or before March 1, 2024, which it did through a 27-page report with eight main legislative recommendations. Law Firm Carolinas … Continue reading

When Is an HOA/Condo Rental Amendment Unreasonable?

When it comes to declaration amendments, our firm is most often asked about restrictions on rentals, whether complete or percentage bans, restrictions on short-term rentals, or limiting corporate rentals. (See HOA/Condo Rental Restrictions, Corporate Owners & Institutional Investors and Short-Term Rentals in North Carolina and South Carolina HOAs and Condominiums) In a decision issued this week (February 21, 2024), the North Carolina Court of Appeals struck down a condominium rental amendment as unreasonable. While not really creating any new law, associations considering a declaration amendment, particularly as to rental restrictions, should be aware of the case. Mileview LLC et al … Continue reading

Why the Chair Never Asks “Is There Any Old Business?” (HINT: Because There’s No Such Thing)

At some point in some board meeting, you’re like to hear a presiding officer ask, “Is there any Old Business?” and wait for a reply. It’s intended as an opportunity for members to raise issue that were addressed at an earlier meeting. The problem with this question is twofold: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS “OLD BUSINESS“ Whether your parliamentary authority is Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) or some other parliamentary manual, there’s no category of business named “Old Business.” The proper term for business that carries over from the prior meeting is “Unfinished Business.” The difference is … Continue reading

Taylor Swift and Robert’s Rules?

What do Taylor Swift and Robert’s Rules of Order have in common? Likely not much. However, both were highlighted in the “Top Ten 2023 Outlook Stories” from The Presbyterian Outlook, the magazine of the Presbyterian Church (USA). “What Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Taught Me about Church” made the list. So did “Who Was Robert and Why Do His Rules Rule?” If you’re curious, the list and full articles can be found at Top 10 Outlook Stories of 2023. Want to learn more about Robert’s Rules of Order and proper meeting procedure? Then check out my two most recent books! Both … Continue reading

HOA/Condo Op-Ed Article Published Today

I was asked by The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer to respond to recent reporting looking at changing North Carolina’s HOA/condo laws. My article, “Caution: When NC HOA Laws Change, Property Values and More Are at Stake,” appears in both newspapers today. If you are a subscriber, links to both are below and the full op-ed follows. Caution: When NC HOA Laws Change, Property Values and More Are at Stake Living in a community where owners agree to abide by rules that enhance benefits for everyone requires  balancing individual rights with neighbors. Legislators have historically balanced those effectively. Substantially increasing … Continue reading

Harmony Taylor Recognition

Law Firm Carolinas’ partner Harmony Taylor is on a roll! Harmony has been named a Fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers. The College, which was created in 1994, recognizes excellence in the practice of community association law. Of the thousands of attorneys who work with homeowner and condominium associations in the US, there are fewer than 200 current CCAL Fellows. As a past national CCAL President, I can say without reservation that Harmony reflects the high standards of professionalism, professional involvement, and passion for community association law the CCAL designation was created to spotlight.​ Harmony has also been elected Chair of … Continue reading

New Release: AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, SECOND Edition

If your organization follows The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (often referred to as “Sturgis”), or the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, or you simply want to learn more about parliamentary practices at meetings, there’s a new book to check out: the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Second Edition. Stay with me here for some necessary background– Originally by Alice Sturgis, The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure was first released in 1950 as a simpler alternative to the Robert’s Rules of Order of its time. The Standard Code had fewer motions, updated archaic terms, modernized … Continue reading

Legislative Update September 25, 2023 – House Bill 542 Adopted by Senate, Now in Conference Committee

The question I’ve been asked most often this summer by association board members and industry professionals has been “What’s going on with House Bill 542?” There’s not been an easy answer. That’s because the provisions in the legislation have been such a moving target. On the NC General Assembly website, you’ll see four editions of the bill. Each adds a host of new requirements for North Carolina homeowner and condominium associations. Not listed on the website are at least eight prior “drafts” of HB 542, as different proposals were floated and either added or dropped from the proposed legislation following … Continue reading

What Is the “Corporate Transparency Act” and Why It Matters to Your Association and Directors

For the past year, community association attorneys have been discussing the impact of the CTA (Corporate Transparency Act). Much of the discussion has been on whether the Act does or does not apply to homeowner and condominium associations. As the effective date of the law is January 1, 2024 (with first reports being due no later than January 1, 2025), the need for clear answers has become more pressing. What Is the CTA? The Corporate Transparency Act was enacted in 2021 as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. In short, the Act is intended to stop foreign actors … Continue reading

Parliamentarian Pro Tips: Assisting Large Meetings

Large annual meetings and conventions create special demands on the parliamentarian. For example, numerous business items may move very quickly with lightning speed. The large audience and attendees milling about make it difficult to see who wishes to be recognized to speak. Votes by voice or even standing can be hard to judge, and the organization may not have electronic voting capabilities. Larger crowds gathered in one place create problems that are not present in smaller board or membership meetings. That said, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised and other parliamentary manuals tend to focus more on meeting procedure than … Continue reading

Can Boards Make Decisions By Email?

Recently, a question came up on a national nonprofit list serve about whether boards can and/or should make decisions through unanimous consent by email. Here was my response.   “Since this is a national question and I’m only licensed in North Carolina, what follows is not specific legal advice. Instead, let me provide a general discussion based on my many years of assisting boards as a parliamentarian and attorney. Most states have adopted some version of the model Nonprofit Corporation Act from the American Bar Association. The most recent is the Fourth Edition, but few states have moved to that. Membership … Continue reading

Legislative Update June 27, 2023 – House Bill 542 Adopted by Senate Judiciary Committee

Legislative proposals are always in flux. However, since I previously reported on HB 542 and other bills impacting community associations, I wanted to share that HB 542 (“HOA Revisions/Foreclosure Trustee Auctions”) was passed by the Senate Judiciary committee yesterday and will likely be voted upon by the entire Senate before long. Various stakeholders and legislators are working on the proposals. The bill as currently written would drastically change North Carolina community association law. The following provisions would apply to all HOAs and condos, whenever created, and whether the association is under the control of the developer or the homeowners: The … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – May 9, 2023

Thursday, May 4, was the “crossover deadline” in the NC General Assembly. That’s the date bills not related to taxes or spending must have passed one chamber to be eligible for consideration during the 2023-2024 legislative session. CAVEAT: In terms of legislation, “dead” doesn’t always mean “completely dead.” A News & Observer story once noted that legislative rules “are made to be circumvented, so there are many ways to keep legislation alive.” (For instance, proposals sometimes appear later in other bills as “technical corrections.”) With the crossover deadline behind us, now is a good time to revisit my last legislative update (NC … Continue reading

Proposed NC Law Changing Declaration Amendments Would Harm Associations and Owners

As described in my recent NC Community Association Legislative Update, an HOA/condo bill moving through the NC General Assembly is Senate Bill 553/House Bill 551 “Landlord/Tenant and HOA Changes.” SB 552 and HB 551 are mainly focused on landlord-tenant issues, but both include a provision that any declaration amendments made by an HOA or condo association would “only affect lot owners whose lots are conveyed or transferred after the amendment takes effect.” Such an outcome impacting ALL declaration amendments would have disastrous consequences on many associations. As a reminder, amendments to declarations can only be adopted if overwhelming supported by … Continue reading

NC Bill to Restrict HOA/Condo Collections Would Harm Associations & Owners

As described in my recent NC Community Association Legislative Update, one bill moving through the NC General Assembly is HB 542 “Protect Homeowners’ Rights.” In addition to placing further requirements on associations as to the collection of past due assessments, the proposal would prohibit the filing of a lien against an owner who fails to pay obligatory association assessments unless the amount is $2,500 “or one year of unit owners’ association assessments, whichever is lesser.” The bill’s attempts to add protections to owners not paying obligatory dues may be well intentioned, but such a dollar cap before a lien can … Continue reading