Choosing the right officials to represent a neighborhood is vital to the appearance of the neighborhood and how homeowners’ fees are used.
You find a beautiful neighborhood that you have always longed to live in. Your home and the homes around yours all have beautiful yards that are immaculately landscaped, lawns that are perfectly cut, eye-catching flowers all around and houses that are painted with precision. Everything looks great and it’s due to the neighborhood being managed by a homeowner’s association (HOA).
What is An HOA?
HOAs are organizations in residential neighborhoods that manage the outward appearance of a community. They are run by elected officials who choose a variety of vendors to help manage the neighborhood with different services. Residents of the neighborhood are charged a monthly fee for the maintenance of the community and the board manages the funds in the most effective way possible.
These board members are elected by the residents in an annual election process. While this process is familiar for people who live in an HOA-run community, there are some aspects that should be explained further, as well as the different laws governing an HOA.
The Election Process
HOAs run elections according to the basic format other associations follow.
Before delving into the process, an HOA must produce a budget, which is usually discussed at an annual meeting. When determining how much to spend in a year, it’s important to consider all election-related costs, including voting methods, security options, and who will run the contest—either your organization or a vendor management agency. Then, an HOA must set a date, nominate qualified candidates, promote the contest, conduct the election, and tabulate the results.
Depending on what works best for a community, there are plenty of voting options they can choose from:
- On-site: Most HOAs or co-ops hold their elections in person at annual meetings. This enables quick tabulation turnaround, on-hand assistance, and convenience. HOAs hold these meetings in a central location within their HOA, so it’s just a short walk or car ride to the polling station.
- Mail: For large HOAs, it may be tough to gather all the residents in one place, let alone find a location big enough to fit them. In these cases, it can be beneficial to send ballots to homes so residents can respond on their own time.
- Online: Many associations have turned to online voting as it’s the most affordable option. This process can be a secure and easily navigable online election, and develop e-proxies for your organization. Online voting is not allowed in some states, like California, so it may not apply for your HOA.
The Laws Governing HOA Elections
The election process is regulated by state laws, an HOA’s bylaws and its Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs).
Each state has localized laws governing HOA elections and the process an HOA must follow.
Some states like California require an election to be administered by a third party to increase transparency and avoid favoritism or nepotism in the process. HOA election inspectors collect ballots and provide results for the community with a completely unbiased opinion about the elected officials.
The bylaws dictate how an HOA enacts future rules, establishing the rights and responsibilities of the group. They set the number of members permitted on the board, the minimum members necessary for a quorum, frequency of contests, term limits and more.
Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions:
Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) are basically the homeowner’s handbook. They outline the rules that homeowner’s need to abide by. They also describe the rights and powers of an HOA and how it will enforce its rules, maintenance requirements and fees, construction and design standards, and the expiration of covenants.
Why HOA Elections are Important
Choosing the right officials to represent a neighborhood is vital to the appearance of the neighborhood and how homeowners’ fees are used. It is important for residents of an HOA to take part in the election process to select the most appropriate individuals for the board. Be involved in HOA meetings and ask questions about how monthly dues are used to benefit the community.