Homeowners associations have a great deal of governance over the neighborhood. However, they do not have the ultimate power. The homeowners have authority and they most often showcase it in the form of voting. Voting is a critical part of the HOA-homeowner balance, so it is critical that all HOA organizations establish a voting plan and stick with it.
You must establish a manner in which you notify homeowners of an upcoming vote. The general guideline for this element is that the notification must come in a form in which all homeowners can access. For example, a social media post might not provide access to everyone, whereas a notification via traditional mail would. Accessibility is the most important factor when it comes to a notification.
Establish a qualification threshold for determining who can vote. Typically, HOAs have a great deal of flexibility in this area. For instance, the vote can be restricted to a single vote per home, or a vote for each legal owner of the property, or even a vote for anyone over the age of 18. Whatever measure you use, it must be consistent for each home in the community.
An HOA will also need to establish how votes are executed. For example, will the vote cards be sent and returned via regular mail or do homeowners need to visit the HOA office to cast their vote in person? Similar to the notification method used, accessibility is most important. So, you will need to examine your community to determine which execution method is best.
Your voting guidelines must detail information about what benchmark, or quorum, is necessary for a successful vote. The quorum is not typically established based on the number of votes that are eligible to be cast, but instead, the number of votes cast. For example, in a community with single household votes and 80 homes, if only 30 residents cast votes, the majority of 30 would qualify for a passing vote. There would not be a need to reach the majority of 80.
All of these factors are important, but what is even more important is consistency. Whatever guidelines your organization determines for each of these elements, they must be included within your governing documents and they must always be followed precisely. An attorney can help you include your voting guidelines within your governing documents.
There are laws and guidelines that govern how an HOA can intact a vote. To be certain your organization is aligned with these guidelines, make sure you consult an attorney.
Reach out to an association attorney in your area to learn more.