Election disputes can create havoc in homeowner associations and ranks as one of the main reasons for litigation. Even when an election dispute doesn’t pit neighbor against neighbor, it can become time-consuming and risk straining some relationships in your community. Establishing and following documented election procedures can save your HOA time, money and headaches.
Part of the problem is that Board members may not have invested the time needed to fully understand their governing documents and laws that can affect HOA elections. Thus, they stumble along on their own, which can leave the association open to election disputes, recalls and lawsuits. If your Board is stretched too thin to tackle documenting election procedures, you may want to hire a property management company that specializes in community association management or an HOA attorney. These professionals can help you develop and implement procedures that meet the criteria for your governing documents and state laws.
Every condo and homeowner association should have election rules that specify:
• Candidate qualifications
• Nomination procedures
• Voting rules
• Tabulation standards
• Communication timeframes and channels
One of the most common mistakes is not following your own HOA rules. Review your rules before an upcoming election, and make sure that you are following the timeframes and documented procedures consistently.
Send out proxies before the meeting, and follow up with homeowners to ensure that you have enough returned to proceed with the election. If you don’t have enough, contact homeowners in advance of the meeting to ask about their proxy. Do you know the quorum you need for the election? If not, check your documents so you’ll know when you can move forward or if advance contact is needed.
Finally, make sure that you have a listing of the people that are authorized to vote by unit. A common mistake is the rules stating that each unit has one vote, but then two people are allowed to vote because two people own the unit. Double voting or other deviations from your “validated voters” list can create major disputes that end in litigation. Validate every voter to protect your HOA.
Establishing and following documented election procedures reduces the potential for allegations that the election was unfair; thus, reducing the chances of legal action. When it comes to elections, you can’t satisfy every owner. However, the atmosphere will be more peaceful when everyone knows what to expect and you consistently follow the rules.
Wise Property Solutions is a property management company serving East Tennessee with offices in Knoxville, TN and the Tri-Cities, TN-VA. Specializing in Condominium Association Management, Home Owners Association Management, HOA Management and Gated Community Association Management.
Tri-Cities, TN-VA: 423-926-7373
Knoxville, TN: 865-643-8989