The HOA elections period can be a stressful season, especially if you have no idea what is going on. But, with a little guide from this article and your governing documents, you can easily make sense of this confusing time.
HOA Elections: What, When, and Where
Homeowners associations operate much like nonprofit corporations, with a set of board members calling the shots. These board members are democratically elected into office by the members of the association following a nomination period. Members typically vote by HOA board election ballot, with in-person elections normally permitting the use of proxies.
The details of the HOA board elections process can vary from one association to another, with state laws and the HOA’s governing documents dictating the proper ways to go about it. More often than not, board members also have staggered terms so the HOA can avoid having a complete change of the board. This way, new board members can receive guidance and advice from existing board members. The term limits of board members and officers will also depend on the HOA’s bylaws.
HOA elections usually happen every year at the annual membership meeting, though this can also vary from community to community. Again, for a more comprehensive list of election guidelines for homeowners association, it is best to refer to the HOA’s governing documents.
The HOA Nomination Procedures
There are several ways candidates can be nominated to run for the HOA board. Some associations allow all of them, while others only allow a select few.
State laws and the governing documents will help shed some light on what type of nomination procedures the HOA should use. Keep in mind that utilizing a procedure that an HOA does not allow might void the elections altogether. In the end, the association will need to repeat the election process using the approved methods.
Nominations usually start with a notice or call for candidates. This notice should include the open positions on the board, the guidelines for nomination, the qualifications of candidates, and the deadline for submitting nominations. The HOA board will need to distribute this notice a specified number of days ahead of the deadline, which will depend on state laws and the governing documents. California law, for example, requires HOAs to send the notice 30 days in advance.
Following the announcement, members then have their chance of nominating candidates. The association may require members to fill out an HOA board nomination form, which may or may not include an option to self-nominate. Other associations only ask that members send a formal letter of nomination.
Types of Candidate Nominations
Before any HOA board member elections can happen, candidates will have to be nominated. Generally, there are three methods of nominating candidates:
As the name suggests, self-nomination is when homeowners submit their own names for candidacy. While some HOAs don’t allow this, there are states that have enacted laws to protect the right to self-nominate. One such example is California under Civil Code Section 5105, which deems HOA election procedures unreasonable if they prohibit self-nominations.
2. Floor Nomination
A floor nomination happens when an HOA calls for nominations during a meeting. To make floor nominations valid, the HOA must first establish a quorum. Once the board president opens the floor for candidate nominations, members can begin nominating people. Nominations don’t need any second motions, though nominated candidates must still possess the right candidate qualifications.
If voting has already transpired prior to floor nominations, those who have already cast their votes can no longer vote for those nominated at the meeting. Ballots are typically considered irrevocable once they have been submitted.
3. Write-In Nomination
A write-in nomination happens when members write down their nominees directly on the ballot. If the write-in candidate earns enough votes to win, then the association must acknowledge their victory. The HOA should then proceed to inform the winner of the election results, at which point the winner will have the choice of either accepting the position or rejecting it.
Homeowners associations that don’t allow write-in nominations in their governing documents should make this clear to all members during the election season. This way, members will not waste their votes and invalidate their ballots.
The bylaws of a homeowners association should contain detailed qualifications for candidates. Two of the most common qualifications include:
- The candidate must be a member of the association at the time of the nomination; and,
- The candidate must be in good standing. In other words, they must not have any unpaid dues, assessments, or fines.
Some associations set parameters that may disqualify candidates. For example, an HOA may not allow a member to run for the board if they have only lived in the community for less than a year. There are also associations that don’t allow renters to run or don’t allow spouses to serve on the board at the same time.
Announcing Candidacy and Campaigning During HOA Elections
Candidates can make their candidacies and platforms known by completing a candidate statement. This statement should introduce the candidate’s name and explain a bit of their background.
A good introduction can help candidates connect with voters and make them stand out from their competition. The statement should also include the qualifications of the candidate. In other words, it should highlight the skills and accomplishments of the candidate. Homeowners don’t want to place unqualified members on the board.
Finally, the candidate statement should describe the platform of the candidate. It should detail their objectives and goals, the issues they want to address, and how they intend to achieve all of this. A good leader should have a realistic plan for the future of the community.
Not all homeowners associations organize an event for members to meet the candidates running for the board. Even with such an event in place, it is unlikely to see 100% attendance. As such, a candidate statement is the best way for voters to get to know the candidates and what they stand for.
A Smooth and Effective Election
It is imperative that everyone in the community understands what exactly goes on during HOA elections. This way, the association can hold a smooth election season each time. The HOA board can also facilitate an easier process if it makes an effort to educate homeowners.
Elite Management Services assists homeowners associations and condominiums by providing expert HOA management solutions, including help with board elections. Call us today at (855) 238-8488 or contact us online to learn more.
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