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A Minute Taker's Guide to the Galaxy of Minute Taking
Keeping Accurate Minutes is a Key Component of a Well-Functioning Condo Board
By Noah Maislin | Other articles by Noah Maislin
The pandemic has not only refocused people's priorities, but also made them pay more attention to the places they own and/or live. This movement has made many owners more engaged, more critical of what their condo board does and how problems are solved, and generally more interested in exactly what goes on at those condo board meetings.
This is why keeping accurate minutes is becoming a key component of a well-functioning condo board. Did I hear a *gulp*? Well, do not fret. I will help guide you through how to ensure you are keeping accurate and quality minutes, while also providing you with some great tips that you can use along the way.
At some point, most condo boards will have their meeting minutes come into question – meaning that they will get picked apart and analyzed. To save everyone time and effort, the more accurate and clear your minutes are, the faster this process will be.
You may feel like this is a difficult task; however, it is important to remember that board minutes are not intended to be a verbatim account of each meeting. Board minutes are intended to contain enough information to allow owners to understand the how and the when of decisions being made, any financial basis used for those decisions, and to help owners understand what is going on in their corporation overall. In providing this information, you will help maintain a healthy relationship among the board, management, and the condo's owners/ residents. This goes even further to reinforce that your board is proactive.
Now that you know why minutes are so important (I could go on, they are kind of my jam), let's dive into some handy tips:
What Details to Include
Beyond the basic elements that all minutes should include – time and date, place, attendance, quorum, etc. – ensure that you focus on recording the relevant topics as set out in the meeting's agenda. There is no need to include casual conversations, and always avoid any hearsay and accusations. Overall, use your discretion.
Record accurate attendance
Having an accurate count of attendees who were present at each meeting and for voting on motions is very important. The best method to ensure your attendance record is accurate is to prepare a list of all the owners and expected attendees (including guests and representatives) in advance of the meeting. This allows you to easily check off anyone in attendance and ensures that they are identified with the correct name and/or unit number.
The easiest way to ensure your minutes are impartial is to always approach them from a third-person perspective, even if you are part of the board. Refrain from using pronouns such as I, we, us, or you.
Be Clear It is important that the minutes allow any current or future board member to easily refer to a prior meeting, understand what may have been discussed, and the decisions that were made based on those discussions. Having clear and concise minutes is also crucial for compliance.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is very important not only in the method of minute taking for each meeting (e.g., using consistent titles, acronyms, etc.), but also in the format of the document (e.g., layout, font, spacing, etc.). Having a set template allows for ease of reference and saves time while minute taking, as you can easily identify the sections and information that needs to be completed.
Take care Editing
Always allow for ample time to edit the record to ensure that the minutes are succinct, clear, and easy to read. This includes confirming the content is relevant, the grammar is correct, and the sentences are well-formed. If you utilize an external company for this service, inquire about their editing methods and ensure that all parties agree on what methods to use.
When Restricted Records Should be Used
Most often, the board will have a policies that set out when to use restricted record minutes; however, per the Ontario Condo Act section 55(4), discussions that include actual or contemplated litigation, specific units, staff, and other private items, should be in the restricted records section of the minutes. These minutes can be requested by owners, and the board would need to provide them, however any information in these minutes that does not pertain to that specific owner will need to be redacted. (and an explanation of why there is a redaction).
Store and Back up Your Minutes
Above all, the number one important tip is to make sure your minutes are properly stored. Whether they are stored electronically or in hard copy, they should always be easy to locate, and be backed up, as you never know when you may need them.
I hope that all the tips that were covered here can help guide you and your board through to a more pain-free minute taking experience!