Spot the Mistakes

Spot the Mistakes

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published January 2023

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It’s the annual membership meeting of a condominium association. Many are handled well with knowledgeable directors and experienced CAMs, but many aren’t. See if you can spot the mistakes this association made. There are at least 10 of them.

     Dozens of owners and residents are streaming into the banquet room with the proxy and ballot envelopes in hand that were mailed out 14 days ago. There is no one at the voter registration tables, so they find seats and complain.

     There is a disorganized buzz at the head table where the directors will sit in panel-discussion style. The president is there and appears unaware of the buzz of complaints from the residents and what is happening at the voter registration table.

     The manager arrives armed with the minute book and the returned proxies and ballots and seats herself at the head table. The secretary of the board seems to be counting heads. She is saying something about a quorum.

     The treasurer arrives with an armful of what looks like the checkbook and other sundry items and seats herself at the head table. She is joined by the remaining board members.

     There seems to be confusion at the head table. Soon the president announces for everyone to leave the room, reenter, and sign in at the voter registration table.

     As the owners are registering, other ladies are passing out ballots to those who have returned to their seats. After more confusion at the head table, the random passing out of the ballots stops. The ladies at the registration tables begin giving them to the owners as they sign in.

     With a quorum present, the annual membership meeting is called to order. The secretary reads the minutes of the last directors’ meeting.

     The treasurer’s report consists of the reading of each check written for the past month. A resident shouts out a request for a copy of the financials. The treasurer gives several excuses and blames the former manager, but the answer is—there have been no financials for anyone to review since this time last year.

     The president calls for reports from the eight standing committees. Only one is prepared to give an oral report.

     The president invites the residents who have not yet voted to do so. Those final ballots are collected by the manager. The president calls three people out of the audience to go to the back room to count the ballots. They look puzzled as if this is a surprise to them.

     The president continues the meeting, asking the members if there is any unfinished business. Several members shout out complaints about the power washing that was promised to happen last September, followed by more grumbling and complaining from the group.

     The president continues by asking if there is any new business. Dozens of hands shoot up in the air with owners shouting out complaints about maintenance and unresolved violations. Suddenly, the anger in the room explodes.

     At last, the counting committee emerges from the back room, and the crowd settles down enough to hear the winners announced. The newly elected board members go to the back room to select their officers while most residents leave.

     Did you spot the wrong procedures?

  1. Since the directors have no collective duty at any membership meeting, they should not sit together, much less sit at the front of the room at a panel-style table. The president is the chair of the membership meetings (unless that duty has been turned over to the manager) and will be at the front of the room. Other officers or committee chairs who give reports can stand where they are or go to the front of the room, give their report, and then return to their seats.
  2. Hopefully, the absent owners’ ballots and proxies were not all in the same envelope and the ballots were in the outer envelope with the owner’s signature and unit number.
  3. There is no way to determine a quorum if residents don’t sign in for themselves and as proxyholders.
  4. Management should have extra ballots, ballot envelopes, and return envelopes on hand for those who need them; they should not be randomly passed out.
  5. To simplify things, proxies turned in prior to the meeting could have already been noted on the voter registration sheets.
  6. The minutes of the last membership meeting, not board meeting, are to be read.
  7. The treasurer is unable to produce any financials. That should alarm every owner.
  8. All committee reports should be written so they can be attached to the minutes after the oral presentation.
  9. Procedures for elections and counting ballots are specifically spelled out in the statutes. It would have been better to solicit those individuals ahead of the meeting so they could be properly trained.
  10. The counting committee is required by statute to count the ballots in the same room as the meeting—not in a back room with the door closed.
  11. It doesn’t appear the agenda specifically identified each agenda item. Random comments and complaint are not proper. Only the business specifically identified on the agenda may be discussed. Any votes would have already been outlined on a limited proxy at least 14 days prior to the meeting; there should be no show of hands, voice vote, or general consent voting.
  12. The organizational meeting of the newly elected board is open to the owners. They should not have met in the back room.

     If this board had taken advantage of the various local and state-wide opportunities to educate itself, the meeting would have been more organized. An experienced manager could have helped with the mechanics of the meeting. 

     The right people at the right place with the right skills are invaluable.

Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

Owner, Florida CAM Schools

     Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM at For more information, contact, call (352) 326-8365, or visit