Are Robert’s Rules of Order Relevant to Condominium Associations in Chicago?

Well-run meetings are the vehicle of change. Without some semblance of order and organization, thoughtful intentions can quickly devolve into divisive issues. Keep your condo association board meetings on task and productive by establishing a set of rules for your meetings. One to consider is Robert’s Rules of Order.

A Call to Order

Structure matters to meetings. For board meetings to be productive, it can be helpful to engage a system, like Robert’s Rules of Order. Be sure also to check your association’s bylaws and governing documents to see if your HOA already has a procedure in place for facilitating board meetings. 

What are Robert’s Rules of Order?

Robert’s Rules is a type of parliamentary procedure that establishes a process for facilitating fair discussions and encouraging group participation. The basic elements include:

  • Motion – To introduce a new piece of business or propose a decision or action, a motion must be made by a group member by saying, “I move that…” A second motion must be also made (“I second it.”) Then, the group votes on the motion. A majority vote is required for the motion to pass (or quorum as specified in your bylaws). 
  • Postpone Indefinitely – This tactic is used to kill a motion. When passed, the motion cannot be reintroduced at the same meeting. 
  • Amend – This is the process used to change a motion under consideration. It’s useful when a board member likes the proposed idea but not exactly as offered. A member may say, “I move to amend the motion on the floor.” This also requires a second and a majority vote to decide whether the amendment is accepted. 
  • Commit – This is used to place a motion in committee.
  • Question – To end a debate immediately, a member says “I call the question” and needs a second. A vote is held immediately (no further discussion is allowed). By Robert’s Rules, a two-thirds vote is required for passage. If it is passed, the motion on the floor is voted on immediately (it’s important to note that your Condo Association’s bylaws supersede any procedure outline in Robert’s Rules). 
  • Table – Tabling a discussion sets the issue aside for it to be considered later in the meeting or at another time.
  • Adjourn – A motion is made to end the meeting. A second motion is required. A majority vote is then required for the meeting to be adjourned (ended).

Chicago condo associations can benefit greatly by following a meeting procedure similar to Robert’s Rules of Order. Not only can the rules help make meetings more organized and productive, but they also encourage greater participation and fairness. All of this to be said – Robert’s Rules of Order are not the law – the Illinois Condominium Property Act (ICPA) is. Robert’s Rules can be a good method to implement an easy-to-follow process to conducting Board Meetings, but they are best considered if your Board Meeting doesn’t have a comprehensive process already in place. 

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