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Subject: Finding consensus vs majority rules
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Author Messages
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:17


10/05/2020 8:51 AM  
Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

The board that I have been part of for the last year has been a consensus-finding board, which is inclusive of all parties. Finding consensus has become more difficult recently.
AugustinD


Posts:4152


10/05/2020 9:12 AM  
Posted By GregM14 on 10/05/2020 8:51 AM
Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

The board that I have been part of for the last year has been a consensus-finding board, which is inclusive of all parties. Finding consensus has become more difficult recently.
One hundred bucks says your governing documents have no requirement for the Board to be what you folks there curiously call a "consensus board."

If I am wrong, do please quote the governing documents on the point.

The South Carolina Condominium Act and Horizontal Property yada Act make zero mention of consensus. I do not recall ever seeing a state HOA/condo statute speak of a requirement for a "consensus."

Is this a condominium?

Honestly, I am kind of cynically snarling at this notion someone where you live invented and probably in gross violation of the governing documents and statutes.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3512


10/05/2020 9:45 AM  
When I was on the board, we usually voted after a lot of discussion, so the votes were unanimous

If your board has been able to come to an agreement without a vote, that's fine IF it's well documented in the minutes, but to protect everyone and the association, I think you should go ahead and take a formal vote. This prevents ambiguity and people then turning around and saying "hey, we never took an official vote, so we can't do this" or "I never agreed to that."

Don't worry about finding consensus on everything - all of you are human and the reason you have meetings and deliberate is because people do have different views on issues from time to time. This is another reason why you take a vote - if majority rules, that's what the board does. It doesn't guarantee the board will always make the right decisions - if a decision is made and you then find out it was a mistake, fix it, learn from it and move on.

If you get outvoted and feel strongly about the issue, write a one-page summary explaining your concerns and ask it be attached to the minutes, so any homeowner and/or future board member knows where you stand. Time will reveal soon enough if you were right, wrong, or somewhere in between.

In the meantime, if you're outvoted, it's still your responsibility to cooperate and do your part to make sure the actions were taken after the decision are efficient and effective. Sitting around and sulking and/or undermining a board decision by whispering and spreading rumors is unprofessional and childish.
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:17


10/05/2020 9:48 AM  
Posted By SheliaH on 10/05/2020 9:45 AM
When I was on the board, we usually voted after a lot of discussion, so the votes were unanimous




Yes, that is what I am saying by finding consensus. It is important to me that we take votes before I sign contracts (while any board member is allowed to sign contracts, I seem to be the only one that actually take the time to sign them) that we have voted so the records will indicate that I signed after a board decision was reached.

I think we need to have more meetings where we can deliberate the question before voting. We don't seem to have many meetings and do business by e-mail, which is hard to find consensus.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 9:54 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 10/05/2020 9:12 AM
Posted By GregM14 on 10/05/2020 8:51 AM
Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

The board that I have been part of for the last year has been a consensus-finding board, which is inclusive of all parties. Finding consensus has become more difficult recently.
One hundred bucks says your governing documents have no requirement for the Board to be what you folks there curiously call a "consensus board."

If I am wrong, do please quote the governing documents on the point.

The South Carolina Condominium Act and Horizontal Property yada Act make zero mention of consensus. I do not recall ever seeing a state HOA/condo statute speak of a requirement for a "consensus."

Is this a condominium?

Honestly, I am kind of cynically snarling at this notion someone where you live invented and probably in gross violation of the governing documents and statutes.



Not sure where you came up with that answer?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3512


10/05/2020 10:10 AM  
I realize the 'rona has changed the way boards conduct business, but I'm not a fan of making all the decisions or discussions via email - why hasn't your board considered using something like Zoom or GoToMeeting, or even Free ConferenceCall, where homeowners can log in and listen to the proceedings? In my opinion, email mail discussions are best left to emergencies - and they should be documented in the next board meeting with the emails preserved so homeowners can request copies to see who said what.

I don't know what you're discussing to require a bunch of meetings to get some sort of consensus - I get the feeling most of you are just indecisive and if that's the case, you (and/or they) need to stop it. Review the information you have, discuss the issue various approaches, and the pros and cons, and then take a vote and see what happens.

It sounds like you're the president if you're signing contracts - if that's the case, do your job and preside. If people are repeating themselves, there's nothing wrong with saving a decision has to be made, so you're calling for a motion. If no one has the guts to make one at that time, tell them the issue will be held until the next meeting and at that time EVERYONE is expected to have read the materials, apply careful thought and then vote however they feel. From now on, this is what's expected of board members - they don't have to agree with everyone all of the time, but they must vote on what they feel is best for the association. If they don't have to guts to make a decision and stand by it, maybe they need to rethink if HOA board service is for them.
AugustinD


Posts:4152


10/05/2020 10:36 AM  
Posted By JohnC77 on 10/05/2020 9:54 AM
Not sure where you came up with that answer?
Neither state statutes nor governing documents require a board to be unanimous in their votes for action to occur.

The bigger problems may be failing to have open meetings and conducting business possibly unlawfully by email.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 11:08 AM  
What the poster is really asking is whether the board you sit on or the board in your community works together to get things done or whether it is just a show up and vote type of board.

In other words, is it like our Congress of 40 years ago, or the one we are stuck with now.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10014


10/05/2020 12:29 PM  
Typically in SC an association can conduct business via phone and Email including voting if the vote is unanimous. It is called Action Without Meeting. This eliminates a lot of face to face meetings when everybody is in agreement. This is how my association operates. The BOD rarely meets face to face.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7579


10/05/2020 12:47 PM  
Our previous (2019) Board's votes were 95% by unanimous consent. The reason was that the directors discussed or deliberated outside of the meetings that were open to owners as is required in CA. And, yes, as Sheila points out, unanimous consent should be in the minutes for future reference.

To those of us in the audience--the owners--the Board's constant perfect agreement with NO discussion or deliberation seemed very fake, insincere, lazy and as simply rubber stamping what the Board majority wanted. Once I was on the Board, executive session minutes confirmed that many topics that should have been in an open board meeting were hidden from owners. Others are discussed in executive session.

Our bylaws, btw, do say that the votes of the majority of the Board is its decision.

I'm a little confused about Greg's note about contracts. The Board must vote to approve them. Then, the president or whomever else is authorized, sign it.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10014


10/05/2020 12:55 PM  
Greg

Yes let us find consensus then sit around the fire singing Kumbaya. Consensus is good but do not let it stand in the way of progress. Majority rules.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 1:26 PM  
GregM

I think you just got your answer, it's not what best for the community but what's in the best interest of a majority of board members.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7579


10/05/2020 1:34 PM  
Greg,, please note that John77's most recent reply makes no sense.

Our current Board majority votes are in the best interests of our corporation. When one or more oppose, on one hand, it is about the definition of what's best for the community. On the other hand, it's someone who opposes may feel that decision could cause harm to their association.

As Sheila points out, once decided by the Board, no directors should complain about the decision.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 1:47 PM  
If you actually read what the OP asked, Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

Is your board transparent? Does it actually inform the community what it is doing in the best interest of the community? Do they take surveys to get the pulse of a community on a project they may be looking to undertake?

Or, do they just show up to a meeting, whether in person or now virtually and without reading any material and vote because, well, just because.

There is a lot in what Greg asked.
AugustinD


Posts:4152


10/05/2020 2:14 PM  
Posted By JohnC77 on 10/05/2020 1:47 PM
Do they take surveys to get the pulse of a community on a project they may be looking to undertake?
In my experience the membership nearly always votes against any project that is needed but will result in a higher assessment.

The governing documents put the power into the hands of a board for good reason. For similar good reason, any member not liking what a director does can express her or his opinion at the annual election with a vote against the director.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 2:44 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 10/05/2020 2:14 PM
Posted By JohnC77 on 10/05/2020 1:47 PM
Do they take surveys to get the pulse of a community on a project they may be looking to undertake?
In my experience the membership nearly always votes against any project that is needed but will result in a higher assessment.

The governing documents put the power into the hands of a board for good reason. For similar good reason, any member not liking what a director does can express her or his opinion at the annual election with a vote against the director.



Sorry you feel the way you do.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:10014


10/05/2020 3:29 PM  
Posted By JohnC77 on 10/05/2020 1:47 PM
If you actually read what the OP asked, Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

Is your board transparent? Does it actually inform the community what it is doing in the best interest of the community? Do they take surveys to get the pulse of a community on a project they may be looking to undertake?

Or, do they just show up to a meeting, whether in person or now virtually and without reading any material and vote because, well, just because.

There is a lot in what Greg asked.




I assumed Greg meant the BOD works together to achieve a consensus not that the BOD works with all owners to achieve same. Working with all owners to achieve a consensus would be a "cluster kiss" and end up with no one getting anywhere.

The BOD was elected to run the association, not kiss/hug and make all owners happy.
JohnC77
(Washington)

Posts:207


10/05/2020 3:41 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 10/05/2020 3:29 PM
Posted By JohnC77 on 10/05/2020 1:47 PM
If you actually read what the OP asked, Are your boards consensus boards, where everyone works together to find a solution that all board members are satisfied with? Or are you majority rules boards, where a vote is taking and if a proposal has the majority vote, majority rules.

Is your board transparent? Does it actually inform the community what it is doing in the best interest of the community? Do they take surveys to get the pulse of a community on a project they may be looking to undertake?

Or, do they just show up to a meeting, whether in person or now virtually and without reading any material and vote because, well, just because.

There is a lot in what Greg asked.




I assumed Greg meant the BOD works together to achieve a consensus not that the BOD works with all owners to achieve same. Working with all owners to achieve a consensus would be a "cluster kiss" and end up with no one getting anywhere.

The BOD was elected to run the association, not kiss/hug and make all owners happy.



You're right, what the hell was I thinking?
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17008


10/05/2020 4:29 PM  
When I was on the board, it depended on the individuals serving.

My first 7 years it was basically a consensus vote.

My last year, I was seen as the enemy for wanting to follow the governing documents and applicable statues. This board was typically majority vote.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7579


10/05/2020 5:11 PM  
I agree with others who say Greg is not asking about Owners' votes/opinions here.

Even with the important deliberations and discussions among directors taking place at open meetings for owners to see and hear in my HOA, as required in CA, I'd say consensus is reached at least 85% of the time. I see I wrote previously that an abusive secretive board in '19 had 95% consensus. I should have written 99.9% consensus. Three incumbents from that board were voted down by owners in a subsequent annual election.

Maybe Greg can restate his concern, which actually wasn't framed as a question.
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