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Subject: A Fair Way to Determine Voting
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MarkB21
(Tennessee)

Posts:1


09/01/2017 10:41 AM  
I am new to this discussion site, so let me thank you ahead of time for your contributions to my topic.

I am part of an HOA that has 3 different types of owners: Full-time Residents; Part-time/Vacation Residents; and Overnight Vacation Rentals.

The HOA has over 1000 properties/lots (around 600 improved lots) and about 800 owners of those lots. I am part of the ByLaws Committee recently formed to review and make recommendations for additions or amendments to the current ByLaws. The very first ByLaw addresses the definition of a Member and the fact the Members vote at the Annual Meeting for the BOD.

Here is a portion of what it states in Article I: "A member is defined as each individual person owning a vested interest in no less than 25% in one or more parcels of Real Estate located in (the HOA) on the date of the annual meeting, and in addition, must be recognized as a member of the association by the (BOD)." it continues "Each such member shall have one vote in the election of Committee members and the conducting of other business of the Association as may properly come before them."

So, at the annual meeting, most members filled out their ballots as 1 vote. Husband and wife on one property meant 2 votes if they were both present or they filled out a legal proxy. However, a couple that had purchased 22 lots turned in their ballot and told the counters to count their votes 44 times. They had an informal letter from an attorney that stated he believed they could vote based upon every lot they owned. Full disclosure: I own 2 lots, I made 1 vote.

To be clear, the meeting was a mess and I believe the election was not valid (even though I was elected). I do know I would have been elected even if every member only had 1 vote count, but I still feel this issue needs to be rectified to the satisfaction of the membership.

I know this discussion could go in many directions, so I would like to ask that we keep it in only 2 directions for the time being.

1. Since the election is in question and potentially not valid, I believe we need to rectify it so we avoid potential lawsuits down the line from disgruntled Homeowners (although there is not likely to be a lawsuit, based upon the past apathetic behavior of the HOA members).

2. Our ByLaws Committee is charged with coming up with recommendations to change the definitions on membership and voting. Any changes in the definition of membership will have to be approved in a vote by the membership, so we need to make sure that vote will not be challenged as well (by not allowing 44 votes from one couple...IMO).

Personally, it seems unfair that someone owns 22 properties and only has 1 or 2 votes, when 4 people can own 1 property equally and they each get 1 vote (4 votes for that property). Also, Improved Lots have a lot more at stake within the HOA than the Unimproved Lots (especially the junky ones that aren't even buildable or have any real value), so I'm wondering if anyone has experience with weighted voting (1 vote for an unimproved lot, 2 or 3 votes for an improved lot) which admittedly takes us in a 3rd direction...sorry.

I plan to propose 1 vote for every unimproved lot and 3 votes for every improved lot where multiple owners must designate one person as the member representative.

Thoughts?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7010


09/01/2017 11:15 AM  
My initial blush is one vote per lot regardless of what is on the lot nor who lives there.
TimM11


Posts:102


09/01/2017 11:54 AM  
Yeah, in mine, it is just one vote per unit, period. The only way for someone to have multiple votes is for them to own multiple units. The way the OP described it, an individual property could have up to four votes depending on how it was owned.

SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:205


09/01/2017 1:35 PM  
Our HOA allows one vote per household, no matter how many houses/lots owned.

FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:784


09/01/2017 3:54 PM  
I think you are interpreting your documents wrong (if you have quoted them correctly).

>A member is defined as each individual person owning a vested interest in no less than 25% in one or more parcels

So a husband and wife would be defined as two members if they share ownership of any parcel.

If a husband, wife and cousin equally shared ownership of any parcel, they would together be three members.

> Each such member shall have one vote

So each member has one vote, REGARDLESS of how many parcels they own.

As far as I can tell, the 22 lot couple is just plain wrong. They only have two votes.

FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:784


09/01/2017 3:57 PM  
Posted By MarkB21 on 09/01/2017 10:41 AM


I plan to propose 1 vote for every unimproved lot and 3 votes for every improved lot where multiple owners must designate one person as the member representative.

Thoughts?




You can propose anything you want but the chances of getting a change in voting are pretty close to zero.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:894


09/01/2017 4:33 PM  
Posted By MarkB21 on 09/01/2017 10:41 AM

1. Since the election is in question and potentially not valid, I believe we need to rectify it so we avoid potential lawsuits down the line from disgruntled Homeowners (although there is not likely to be a lawsuit, based upon the past apathetic behavior of the HOA members).

2. Our ByLaws Committee is charged with coming up with recommendations to change the definitions on membership and voting. Any changes in the definition of membership will have to be approved in a vote by the membership, so we need to make sure that vote will not be challenged as well (by not allowing 44 votes from one couple...IMO).

Personally, it seems unfair that someone owns 22 properties and only has 1 or 2 votes, when 4 people can own 1 property equally and they each get 1 vote (4 votes for that property). Also, Improved Lots have a lot more at stake within the HOA than the Unimproved Lots (especially the junky ones that aren't even buildable or have any real value), so I'm wondering if anyone has experience with weighted voting (1 vote for an unimproved lot, 2 or 3 votes for an improved lot) which admittedly takes us in a 3rd direction...sorry.

I plan to propose 1 vote for every unimproved lot and 3 votes for every improved lot where multiple owners must designate one person as the member representative.

Thoughts?


I'll start by saying that from what I've seen the vast majority of associations are one vote per lot, period (except for developers while still under developer control). Do all properties pay the same assessment? If so, I think any plan that varies the votes per lot by whether they are developed or not is not fair.

As far as your current situation, have you gotten an attorney's opinion? If it comes down to it, the only opinion that will matter will be the judge's, but a lawyer can review your docs in detail, interpret them in the context of local law and precedents, and give you an opinion that is more likely to match what a judge might decide than any guesses we can make based on the limited info we have.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:1633


09/01/2017 6:06 PM  
I'd suggest the way it's done in many, many other HOAs: One vote per lot, period, and that vote may not be cast fractionally. Multiple owners of a lot must agree among themselves how to cast their vote and if they cannot agree then that vote is not counted.

Just about any other scheme is going to lead to confusion. The owners of the 22 lots should have 22 votes between them. A husband and wife owning a single lot get 1 vote. A brother, sister and cousin who jointly own a single lot get 1 vote.

This may be the single most important change you ever make to your bylaws. If it was me, I'd propose the change and if it was voted down by the homeowners I would keep proposing it year after year after year. Eventually the other owners will see the justification for 1 lot 1 vote arrangement. I think you're bound to have heaps of problems unless and until you change it. There's a reason virtually every HOA in the country does it that way.
JeffT2
(Iowa)

Posts:346


09/01/2017 7:33 PM  
Posted By MarkB21 on 09/01/2017 10:41 AM

Here is a portion of what it states in Article I: "A member is defined as each individual person owning a vested interest in no less than 25% in one or more parcels of Real Estate located in (the HOA) on the date of the annual meeting, and in addition, must be recognized as a member of the association by the (BOD)."



I think it is pretty common for bylaws to have a provision for handling multiple owners (such as husband and wife). The provision in your bylaws is not very well written, but it does give you a way to handle multiple owners by recognizing only one person per lot. Your board can put out a statement for the next election that only one person per lot will be recognized.

What do your CC&Rs say about members and votes?
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:3642


09/01/2017 9:23 PM  
Posted By MarkB21 on 09/01/2017 10:41 AM
I am new to this discussion site, so let me thank you ahead of time for your contributions to my topic.

I am part of an HOA that has 3 different types of owners: Full-time Residents; Part-time/Vacation Residents; and Overnight Vacation Rentals.

The HOA has over 1000 properties/lots (around 600 improved lots) and about 800 owners of those lots. I am part of the ByLaws Committee recently formed to review and make recommendations for additions or amendments to the current ByLaws. The very first ByLaw addresses the definition of a Member and the fact the Members vote at the Annual Meeting for the BOD.

Here is a portion of what it states in Article I: "A member is defined as each individual person owning a vested interest in no less than 25% in one or more parcels of Real Estate located in (the HOA) on the date of the annual meeting, and in addition, must be recognized as a member of the association by the (BOD)." it continues "Each such member shall have one vote in the election of Committee members and the conducting of other business of the Association as may properly come before them."

So, at the annual meeting, most members filled out their ballots as 1 vote Would depend on how many units they owned. You get one vote per unit. Husband and wife on one property meant 2 votes if they were both present or they filled out a legal proxy Incorrect .... there is to be ONE vote cast (husband and wife are to both equally desire on how to cast their one vote.. However, a couple that had purchased 22 lots turned in their ballot and told the counters to count their votes 44 times. Again, incorrect ... should have been one vote per unit which would be 22 votes.. They had an informal letter from an attorney that stated he believed they could vote based upon every lot they owned. Either they had an idiot attorney or most likely the HOA misinterpreted the attorney letter. If the attorney letter stated they could vote based on every lot they owned ... that would be correct. However, it would be one vote per LOT not two votes. Full disclosure: I own 2 lots, I made 1 vote. You cheated yourself ... if you own two lots you would have two votes.

To be clear, the meeting was a mess and I believe the election was not valid (even though I was elected). I do know I would have been elected even if every member only had 1 vote count, but I still feel this issue needs to be rectified to the satisfaction of the membership.

I know this discussion could go in many directions, so I would like to ask that we keep it in only 2 directions for the time being.

1. Since the election is in question and potentially not valid, I believe we need to rectify it so we avoid potential lawsuits down the line from disgruntled Homeowners (although there is not likely to be a lawsuit, based upon the past apathetic behavior of the HOA members). Depends ... while potentially not quite right is majority of owners OK with the elections? If yes then let sleeping dogs lie ... If no then potentially need to address.

2. Our ByLaws Committee is charged with coming up with recommendations to change the definitions on membership and voting. Any changes in the definition of membership will have to be approved in a vote by the membership, so we need to make sure that vote will not be challenged as well (by not allowing 44 votes from one couple...IMO).

Personally, it seems unfair that someone owns 22 properties and only has 1 or 2 votes, when 4 people can own 1 property equally and they each get 1 vote (4 votes for that property). Also, Improved Lots have a lot more at stake within the HOA than the Unimproved Lots (especially the junky ones that aren't even buildable or have any real value), so I'm wondering if anyone has experience with weighted voting (1 vote for an unimproved lot, 2 or 3 votes for an improved lot) which admittedly takes us in a 3rd direction...sorry. You have to follow your governing documents and State Laws. Generally this is ONE vote per unit or lot whether developed or not. What you have proposed in your BELOW paragraph would not fly under most State Laws. The votes are supposed to be equal based on each unit owned.

I plan to propose 1 vote for every unimproved lot and 3 votes for every improved lot where multiple owners must designate one person as the member representative.

Thoughts?



JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:7010


09/02/2017 7:10 AM  
Most associations will have some sort of wording about multi-owners (even a husband and wife, or a corporation) that says one vote per lot, you all decide who the voter is and let us know. In the case of a corporation the designated voter may not show up anywhere as in not directly own a piece. It is often the corporation's lawyer.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:14861


09/02/2017 8:50 AM  
Do your governing documents (CC&Rs, Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws) specify how votes are allotted?

I ask because you only specified what the documents define as a member.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > A Fair Way to Determine Voting



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