Boards Elections [Part 2]

Boards Elections [Part 2]

Dear Mr. Richardson, We cannot get people to volunteer to be on the board. I have been on the board and told the manager I didn’t want to run. She put my name on the ballot, and said I had to stay on the board until someone took my place. What happens if you don’t have people to serve on the board? Thanks, L.W., Encinitas Dear L.W., The usual cause for difficulty in finding volunteers is that homeowners are discouraged from volunteering by seeing directors working long hours for the HOA. The less common reason is HOAs in turmoil often have trouble filling seats with brave souls. A provisional director could be appointed by the court if the board cannot attain quorum, but this is very expensive (the director will charge hourly). You cannot be forced to serve as a director. A director can resign any time, and the board then can in an open meeting vote to fill the vacancy. The manager may be misapplying Corporations Code 7220(b), which says that a director serves until the term expires and a replacement is elected. Corporations Code 7224(c) provides that a director may resign upon giving written notice. I hope your board investigates the reasons why people are unwilling to serve, and things improve. Sincerely,Kelly Mr. Richardson, We have several candidates running for the board and one candidate is the spouse of an owner of record but she is not on title. Our board president announced in an open meeting that the candidate was not eligible to be a candidate based on the president’s interpretation of the Davis-Stirling Act. Your...
Boards Elections [Part 1]

Boards Elections [Part 1]

Mr. Richardson, What recourse does a member have if the board refuses to abide by the governing documents or state law? Our president refuses to hold the annual election in an apparent attempt to stay in power. C.S., Poway Dear C.S., 5% of the members may under Corporations Code 7511(c) send a written petition demanding a membership meeting. However, most likely the board will ignore it. I have seen members announce their own membership meeting, but this is a bad idea because it is too easy to make an error in the very technical election procedures required by Civil Code 5100-5135. A better option may be to file a court petition under Corporations Code 7510(c) for an order compelling an election. This involves legal expense, and is a last resort, but judges are normally sympathetic to these petitions and are willing to order an election. Before going to all the effort and expense of filing a court petition, make sure you have member support (and a few candidates). Best regards, Kelly Dear Kelly, Our association did not make quorum, so our election was postponed a month. Each homeowner gets 1 vote, but there were couples at this meeting so some homeowners got 2 votes. Some homeowners returned a handful of ballots they had collected. I was told each homeowner must mail or bring their ballot in themselves. Is this legal? D.P., Aliso Viejo Dear D.P., Civil Code 5115(a)(2) says that ballots may be mailed or delivered by hand to a location specified by the inspector of elections but does not specify who does that. Election rules could avoid a...
Before Amending CC&Rs, Avoid “Ready, Fire, Aim!” [10 Tips]

Before Amending CC&Rs, Avoid “Ready, Fire, Aim!” [10 Tips]

First, check with the members Amending CC&Rs usually takes a supermajority (i.e. more than simply a majority of the quorum), so strong membership support is essential. Drafting a great amendment is meaningless if the homeowners will not vote for it. Avoid controversial amendments Amendments changing assessments so that some members pay a higher or lower amount or unpopular use restrictions should be avoided. Some amendments do not require a membership vote Under the Civil Code, amendments deleting developer marketing provisions (Section 4230) or removing illegal discriminatory restrictions (Section 4235), or simply changing the old Civil Code references to the current (Section 4235), are all amendments which can be adopted by the board of directors in an open meeting. Get out the vote Explain to the members that the failure to vote (abstaining) is the same as a “no” vote. Divide up the community into sectors and divide those sectors among volunteers. CC&R amendments are not often very interesting, and apathy is usually their greatest enemy. Missing supermajority If you cannot meet the supermajority required by your CC&Rs, Civil Code 4275 allows the HOA to file a court petition to seek judicial approval – however, to petition, more than 50% of all members, not just a majority of the quorum, must vote in favor. These petitions really should be viewed as a last resort, due to the legal, mailing, and copying cost involved. Verbatim The EXACT text of the amendment must be sent out with the ballots – even if it was already previously distributed. This is required by Civil Code 5115(e). When sending amendments to members, help them by...
11 Sure-Fire Ways to Frustrate HOA Elections

11 Sure-Fire Ways to Frustrate HOA Elections

Most associations have member voting at least annually, and the process required by statute applies to all HOAs, whether 2 units in Redondo Beach or 3,000 units in Oakland. Avoid these mistakes which can doom HOA elections. 1. Ignore the procedure Civil Code Sections 5100-5135 provide a process which must be followed on member votes regarding major assessments, governing document amendments, grants of exclusive use rights, and board elections. Many smaller HOAs either intentionally or ignorantly do not follow the process, leaving their elections open to challenge. 2. Don’t have election rules Civil Code 5105 requires HOAs have written election rules in place. These rules help answer questions in advance, making for more organized and fairer elections. 3. Forget to appoint an inspector of elections When setting an election, associations occasionally fail to appoint or hire an inspector to conduct the process. This appointment must occur in an open board meeting. Inspectors may be paid professional vendors or may be homeowner volunteers. 4. Allow proxies Most developer-supplied original HOA bylaws allow for the use of proxies, by which members give to another member the right to vote on their behalf. California statutes provide little guidance as to what is a valid proxy, and proxy disputes (and sometimes chicanery) are a common problem in HOA elections. Proxies are unnecessary, since on most important HOA votes members receive ballots 30 days ahead of the election. HOAs are better served by, through member vote, amending governing documents to ban proxies except for the narrow purpose of achieving quorum. 5. Skip vote counting in uncontested elections It may make no sense to go...
The Rules on Rules

The Rules on Rules

It is important to create good association operating rules and to make sure the rule topics required by statute are also covered, but all that is wasted if the association fails to follow the required rule amendment process. Because rules are amended only by the board, the Civil Code requires special procedures to alert members in advance when boards consider changing or creating rules. Civil Code 4360 sets up the following two meeting process: The board must give members at least 30 days advance written notice, with a copy of the verbatim proposed change and a statement as the purpose and effect of the change (first meeting). At the second board meeting, considering the rule change, the board must receive member comments (if any). Notice must be given to members within 15 days after the meeting if the rule change is adopted If the change is controversial, 5% or more of the membership may, within 30 days of notification of a rule change, demand a membership meeting to vote upon its reversal. If a majority of a quorum vote to overturn it, the rule change may not be reinstated by the board for one year. The law allows for emergency rules, if immediate action is necessary to avoid imminent threat to health, safety or to substantial economic loss. Boards may pass emergency rules for up to 120 days but they cannot be renewed. In making changes to association rules, consider these five process tips: Discuss the rule. If the rule change is too complicated to draft during the board meeting, then delegate someone (the attorney perhaps?) to draft language to...