Most people at some point have heard of Robert's Rules, but what exactly are those rules, and how do they apply to you? Well, if you're involved in a group, committee, or organization that conducts business through meetings, chances are you've had some exposure to these rules.
Way before the Common Interest Community existed in history - there was Henry Robert. The first edition of Mr. Robert's "rules" was published in 1876, with the name Robert's Rules of Order. After Brigadier General Robert unexpectedly found himself at the helm of several committees - he began to notice something, all these groups had different methods of conduct. He formulated an idea to bring some uniformity to the business of conducting meetings; across regions and organizations. Robert's Rules became the standard for many of those organizations. Since then, there have been many updates and revised editions. The most current is the 11th edition which just hit store shelves last week, under the title Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. It is just as significant today as it was back then. Perhaps - with our media and communication induced short attention spans - it is even more essential now.
Robert's Rules is a form of parliamentary procedure; a set of rules to guide the conduct of a meeting. These rules allow the members of your organization the opportunity to be heard, especially those with a minority opinion. It also encourages the group to conduct their meetings in an orderly fashion. It is only one of several styles of parliamentary procedure practiced throughout the world.
You might be wondering what all of this has to do with you - the Home Owner or Board Member in a Community Association. Well, as of the last legislative session, HOA's are required to use Robert's Rules to conduct their meetings. Actually, SB 204 says that "meetings must follow Robert's Rules unless the bylaws or a resolution before the meeting provide otherwise." Ultimately, your association, if allowed by your bylaws, can adopt a resolution that is a modified form of Robert's Rules. Oh, if only all rules were so simple to follow. If it doesn't suit you (or your association), just modify it so it does.
All Board Members should be encouraged to get to know Robert's Rules. It will definitely serve to make you more effective as an officer of your Community Association. The rules as a whole are a complex structure of motions, seconds, debates, amendments, and votes. If you are trying to use Robert's Rules in its unabridged state (as opposed to the one you might modify, and adopt for your group), then it would be wise to study it and understand all the intricacies involved.
If you want to create a resolution for your Community Association to use a revised set of rules, you should take into account what you need to accomplish during a meeting. Specifically, your resolution should include how comments from the floor are heard, and how motions are processed from start to finish, who can recognize them, if they need a second, and so on. Obviously, all of your resolution must stay within the confines of NRS; your modifications are not a way to circumvent anything in NRS116, or other state and local laws. When you develop a resolution to use a modified version of Robert's Rules, you are simplifying those rules to make them more accessible and easier to follow for the group.
If all of this still seems a bit murky... have no fear. There are numerous resources in the library and on the internet. A quick Google search will give you a slew of sites to choose from. Read and study from a variety of sources for better understanding. But when it comes to actually creating your modified rules, make sure you are following the guidelines in the actual text Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition.
- Gina Yenser
Terra West Management Services - Mesquite