There are certain rules and processes that must be followed when it comes to HOA elections. This will help you know a little bit of what to expect when election time comes around.
An HOA must hold an election vote before taking any of the following actions:
- Electing or removing any board members
- Levying any assessment increases or any special assessments
- Amending the governing documents
- Granting exclusive use of the common area to any group that is less than all members
The meeting to hold an election vote must be declared and held within a reasonable amount of time from the date that the majority of lots in the development are sold. This exact time frame and total number of lots varies by state and by community. It should be outlined in the governing documents for each community. Notice of any vote must be delivered to lot owners in a timely manner, and must include the date, time, and place of the meeting. Be sure that you know how many people you have to have in attendance in order to hold vote, and be sure to record/document those who do show up to the meeting to be sure that your vote results are deemed valid.
Following Election Rules
Each HOA is explicitly required by law to have a set of election rules. Community bylaws often address elections but you also need to have specific election rules in place. In order for the results of any vote to be valid, the vote must be conducted in compliance with the law. Without published election rules, which are then followed and enforced, HOAs are exposed to potential liability. Your HOA will be at risk of lawsuits from any member of the community for violation of the elections law. If this were to happen and a judge were to side with the community member in finding the HOA in the wrong, any actions taken by the wrongfully elected board could be undone. Similarly, if a community member challenged the validity of a vote that increased assessments or levied a special assessment, and the HOA was found faulty, the board would be left without the money that was needed. Election rules are in place to protect the board from running into any of these types of situations.
There is not a default set of rules to follow; each HOA needs their own set. Election rules must be drafted to comply with the law and be tailored to work with the association’s other governing documents. They aren’t one size fits all, but your legal team will be there to make sure that you are compliant.
Election rules should contain the procedures for nominations, rules for campaigning- including candidate access to media (newsletters, website, email list, etc.) and common area meeting space, ballot procedures, and procedures for uncontested, tie, and recall elections. Election rules should also specify the following:
– Exact candidate qualifications for any elected position
– Qualifications for voting, particularly the voting power of each membership (for example whether it will be one vote per unit, or one vote per person), the use of proxies, and so forth
– The voting period for elections
Each HOA must follow it’s own governing documents. In many cases, they will spell out the procedure for election votes step by step. Make sure that all forms (notice of election, proxy forms, and any other applicable forms) are sent to property owners in a timely manner and that each step of the process is properly and adequately recorded. When in doubt, put your HOA’s legal team to work. They are experts and will help you avoid any pitfalls, ensuring that all election votes are legitimate.
For board members with additional questions regarding the management of your HOA community, contact Spectrum Association Management today.