Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition NOW AVAILABLE!

This summer I let you know about the release of Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, a quick go-to guide that provides details on the most used motions, appropriate informal procedures for association boards, and general advice for shortening meetings. Pleased to say it was the #1 new release in its category on Amazon, as small a category as that might be. As a follow-up, the new Fifth Edition of Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules is now available! Regardless of your level of parliamentary experience, you’ll learn something new from Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition. The book complements Robert’s Rules of … Continue reading

ABA Journal Podcast on Meetings & Robert’s Rules

If you like podcasts, the American Bar Association Journal interviewed me this month for its ABA Journal Modern Law Library on “Sick of Meetings That Go Off the Rails? Robert’s Rules of Order Can Help.” The discussion covered everything from the importance of proper meeting procedure, board versus member meeting procedure, myths about meetings, minutes, parliamentarians, parliamentary organizations, and more. Depending on your preferred podcast platform, the episode can be found at: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherOvercast Here’s the Modern Law Library website for the episode:

Set Assessments at Appropriate Levels Because A Special Assessment May Not be Available to Save the Day!

Nobody likes to pay taxes, or in the community association world, high assessments.  However, Boards need to make sure that they are setting assessments at an appropriate level to account for anticipated and potentially unanticipated needs and obligations of the community. Board members have a fiduciary duty to the Association which can include making sure that they are doing what they can to assure that the Association is properly funded. Boards should do their best not to fall into the trap that can often be set by developers who may have set assessments at a lower amount in an effort … Continue reading

Estate Planning for Couples 101: Conflicts, the Power of the Survivor, Contractual Wills and Joint Versus Separate Trusts

For estate planning attorneys, the initial consultation with spouses can have some awkward moments to say the least.  Unlike with unmarried individuals, there is typically no diving directly into the minutia.  First, the attorney must recite a rather robotic disclaimer that, while one attorney representing both spouses with respect to their estate planning is rather common, it is indeed a conflict of interest from a professional responsibility perspective.  The attorney may go on to say that each spouse has the right to obtain separate counsel, and that such action is advisable, but offer to proceed with representing both spouses if … Continue reading

NC Bar Association Interview with Jim Slaughter

The NC Bar Association recently interviewed partner Jim Slaughter about association meetings, parliamentary procedure, Robert’s Rules of Order, and his two new books on meeting procedure. The article can be found in this month’s North Carolina Lawyer Magazine here:Parliamentary Procedure, Robert’s Rules, and Jim Slaughter: Award-Winning Author Discusses Two New Books and More. Jim is an attorney, Certified Professional Parliamentarian-Teacher, Professional Registered Parliamentarian,, and past President of the American College of Parliamentary Lawyers. He has written four books on meeting procedure, including Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fourth Edition (with a new Fifth … Continue reading

Fraud Alert:  New Burglary Scheme Targets Owners by Posing as HOA-Sanctioned Contractors

Depending upon your community structure and governing documents, it is entirely possible that your HOA will provide maintenance within the community.  Examples of this are where townhome community documents provide that assessments cover select items of exterior maintenance (such as roofing systems, siding, or yardwork).  Condominium associations also may have an easement to access the interior of owner units in order to access the “common elements” (frequently the interior “guts” of the walls—utility lines/plumbing).  Such maintenance will involve the community association sending out contractors to assess the maintenance needs, and also performing work.  These contractors will be arranged and hired … Continue reading

Update on Fifth Edition of Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules

Several readers on Amazon have sent me a message to the effect of, “I have your Robert’s Rules Of Order Fast Track, but can’t seem to find Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition, only the Fourth Edition for the last Robert’s. Where can I find the Fifth Edition?” First off, thanks for reading and for looking for the book! That’s gratifying to me as an author. Hope the books have been helpful. (As an aside, if you found the Fast Track guide helpful, please consider commenting or posting a review here, as that is how people find out … Continue reading

Why Is My Main Motion Not in Order? 

While there are numerous reasons why any motion may not be in order, I will attempt to give some guidance on why your main motion would not be in order at a meeting. Main motions are the most common motions, and are how business is done at meetings. You are likely very familiar with these motion, though you probably do not refer to these motions as “main motion.” Motions to have the organization take some action are main motions. For example, common main motions are “I move to adopt the budget,” “I move to adopt resolution 1,” “I move to … Continue reading

Update—Delinquent Homeowners May Have Access to Funds to Pay HOA and Condo Liens

As I wrote a few months ago, South Carolina homeowners have access to federal funds that have been allocated to assist homeowners in financial distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has now been confirmed that the program will include paying debts associated with HOA or condominium assessments, late fees, interest, liens, and foreclosure-related costs.  As anticipated, the State of South Carolina has been awarded $144,650,807.00 by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), which was established under Section 3206 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.   What does that mean for an HOA … Continue reading

Should Meeting Minutes Include Names of Members in Attendance?

A question came up during a recent online discussion about whether the names of members attending a board meeting should be listed in the minutes, and perhaps even show what time the member arrived. Here’s not one, not two, but THREE answers! First, the good news is there’s no wrong answer. At the end of the day, the minutes are what the specific body within your organization decides by majority vote it wishes to have in its minutes. Different organizations have different style minutes. Second, if you follow (or try to follow) Robert’s Rules of Order there is no answer, … Continue reading

New Appellate Decision Related to Application of Insurance Proceeds in Older Condominiums

Earlier this week, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a decision in Grooms Property Management v. Muirfield Condominium Association. The case dealt with interpreting and applying insurance provisions in the declaration of an older condominium governed by the NC Unit Ownership Act, and determining the association’s obligation to purchase insurance and the application of proceeds in the event of a total destruction. The condominium building in question had been entirely destroyed by a fire, and the cost of complete exterior and building repairs was estimated to be between $1.36 and $1.46 million.  The Declaration in this case required the … Continue reading

Remote Online Notarization Coming (Again)!

With the passage of NC House Bill 776, North Carolina joins 37 other states in adopting rigorous RON (Remote Online Notarization) policies. This brings the end to end security measures and accurate closing procedures that lenders and other industry stakeholders demand, while offering the convenience and safety customers desire. The process revolves around the software platform, one of the most common being Pavaso. This swiss-army knife solution combines the teleconferencing abilities of Zoom with document management and signing capabilities of Docusign and adds encryption and recordkeeping and identification verification. This special suite of tools works together to solve the hardest … Continue reading

CARFAX for Condos

Last month, a federal judge approved a $1.2 billion settlement for unit owners and affected families in the Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside, Florida.  The 2021 collapse was the deadliest condominium collapse in United States history and the third deadliest structure failure in United States history.  While the collapse is still under investigation, a leading factor in the collapse appears to be structural support degradation and corrosion caused by water intrusion. Champlain had obtained an engineering report in 2018 which found major errors in the construction of the pool deck, which had allowed rainwater to penetrate into and … Continue reading

An Ode to the Surviving Spouse

Losing any loved one is difficult, but losing a spouse adds another dimension of not only grief, but anxiety, fear and confusion about the future. A marriage is a team effort – duties are delegated with respect to finances, home maintenance, social graces, and the many other elements of domestic life. And so, when one spouse dies, in addition to the grief felt, the survivor is often overwhelmed by taking on new duties which were delegated to their partner prior to their death. There are, of course, many family dynamics and there can be many variations and complexities, but in … Continue reading

NC Community Association Legislative Update – June 21, 2022

ADOPTED BILL HAS IMPORTANT HOA/CONDO FIXES AND CHANGES TO HOW CONDOS ARE CREATED Due to other more pressing issues, several important bills impacting community associations were not addressed by the General Assembly in 2021. Those proposals have seen quick action this week, been adopted, and sent to the Governor for signature. Senate Bill 278’s(“SB278”) important features include that it: (1) “rescues” many older associations from concerns about the Marketable Title Act due to appellate decisions in 2021, (2) makes clear the NC Condominium Act applies to older condos when pursuing unpaid assessments, and (3) changes how condominiums are created. (The … Continue reading

North Carolina Supreme Court Issues Important Solar Panel Case

Harmony Taylor & David Wilson In a case of wide-reaching impact, the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday, June 17, 2022, issued its decision in Belmont Association, Inc. v. Farwig. An earlier blog discussed the factual background and decision from the Court of Appeals in detail.   By way of brief summary, the homeowners in this case installed solar panels on the front facing façade of their roof without approval and the homeowners association commenced fines. Nothing in the declaration explicitly regulated solar collectors, but the association, pursuant to its general authority over architectural matters and aesthetics, refused to allow … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

My newest book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, is now available! My first book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track (2012) has been very popular, and Penguin asked for a new edition of the book updated for the new Robert’s Rule of Order and to include a discussion of  virtual and electronic meetings. Proper meeting procedure is more important than ever—especially in these contentious times. With that in mind, the book also covers dealing with problem members and problem chairs. To better reflect its focus, the book has been renamed Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track: The … Continue reading

A Loved One Has Died, What Should I Do?

Whether it be a parent, grandparent, or otherwise, when a loved one dies, creating a “to do” list is not the first thing often on a grieving family member’s mind.  However, we do live in a check it off the list, “get it done” type of world and so I often have family members call me the day of or day after the death of a loved one asking for counsel.  I get questions such as “should we go to the courthouse?”, “when is the reading of the Will?” and “should I pay [enter outstanding bill here]?”.  All of these … Continue reading

Is it “safe” for community associations to allow food trucks on common areas?

Food trucks are very on trend right now, and many homeowner and condominium associations are considering inviting them to gatherings and community wide parties. Hopefully, boards think before they make a call and reach out to their attorney or manager to make sure that they are proceeding legally. Here are some thoughts to consider when choosing when or how to invite a food truck to your next community event. First, boards generally have the right to decide whether or not to invite or allow food trucks on the common area. Common areas, such as pool decks, clubhouses, community parking lots … Continue reading