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Subject: forged proxie
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OliviaS
(South Carolina)

Posts:6


01/20/2010 4:35 PM  
We recently had our elections and one of our homeowners had 2 proxies turned in for her. Our management co. simply threw both of them out because this homeowner's vote would not count anyway (waaay behind in regime fees.) The board is looking into this and other possible problems with the election. Another board member and I are going to the homeowner's house this evening to show her the proxies. We will ask if her signature is forged on one of them, and have her sign that it is a forged signature. This person was not elected to the board so there is no quesion of removing her. We were wondering if anyone has ever had anyone do something this dishonest to get on the board, and if there is any action we could take to ensure they not voted onto future boards.
thanks,
Olivia
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


01/20/2010 5:59 PM  
Olivia,

It sounds like you already took the appropriate steps when you:

a) Disqualified the 1st proxy because the member signing it was not in good standing.

b) Disqualified both proxies when there was good faith belief that the proxy may have been forged since two were submitted.


Questions:

Why is the Board even bothering to look into if the proxies were forged?

If they were, what does the Board plan to do about it?

If they weren't, and two were mistakenly submitted, what does the Board plan to do about it?



Looking at it from a different perspective:

It is possible that the individual didn't know (or didn't remember) that they were not allowed to vote in the election. Therefore, they submitted a proxy.

It is also possible that the individual forgot that they signed a proxy when they submitted another one.

It is also possible that the individual changed their mind on who they wanted to represent them and they thought the second proxy would override the first one.

It is also possible that one spouse gave one proxy and the other spouse gave the second one without any knowledge of what happened.


Again, you already had the proper checks and balances in place. You had a list of members available who were not eligible to vote and were checking people in against that list. You also had someone making note of the proxies and caught the second proxy before it became an issue.

Based on your posting, I don't think you really need go through the extra effort to see if the proxy was forged, a case of memory lapse or lack of good communication. However, if you do want to take additional steps, perhaps a mailing to those members not eligible to vote prior to the election informing them of that fact and the reason why. Who knows, you might get some to bring their accounts current so they can vote.


Tim
RichardP13


Posts:0


01/20/2010 8:18 PM  
For Heavens Sake..I think we should put the person in front of a fire squad. Just Kidding..The humane thing would be legal injection...We have dead people and cats voting in Presidential Elections. This is just an HOA.
HB
(Oregon)

Posts:143


01/20/2010 9:08 PM  
Posted By RichardP13 on 01/20/2010 8:18 PM
For Heavens Sake..I think we should put the person in front of a fire squad. Just Kidding..The humane thing would be legal injection...We have dead people and cats voting in Presidential Elections. This is just an HOA.





This is just an HOA?? . . this coming from you of all people! Can you imagine how someone with such low ethical standards as to forge a proxy to get on the Board would handle peoples money? It may not seem like that big of a deal in the great scheme of things, but IT IS important.
RichardP13


Posts:0


01/20/2010 9:47 PM  
Posted By HB on 01/20/2010 9:08 PM
Posted By RichardP13 on 01/20/2010 8:18 PM
For Heavens Sake..I think we should put the person in front of a fire squad. Just Kidding..The humane thing would be legal injection...We have dead people and cats voting in Presidential Elections. This is just an HOA.





This is just an HOA?? . . this coming from you of all people! Can you imagine how someone with such low ethical standards as to forge a proxy to get on the Board would handle peoples money? It may not seem like that big of a deal in the great scheme of things, but IT IS important.




You are already assuming it was a forged proxy. There was no proof offered the proxy was in fact forged.
HB
(Oregon)

Posts:143


01/20/2010 9:56 PM  
Posted By RichardP13 on 01/20/2010 9:47 PM
Posted By HB on 01/20/2010 9:08 PM
Posted By RichardP13 on 01/20/2010 8:18 PM
For Heavens Sake..I think we should put the person in front of a fire squad. Just Kidding..The humane thing would be legal injection...We have dead people and cats voting in Presidential Elections. This is just an HOA.





This is just an HOA?? . . this coming from you of all people! Can you imagine how someone with such low ethical standards as to forge a proxy to get on the Board would handle peoples money? It may not seem like that big of a deal in the great scheme of things, but IT IS important.




You are already assuming it was a forged proxy. There was no proof offered the proxy was in fact forged.





I didn't assume anything. I asked a question "Can you imagine how someone with such low ethical standards as to forge a proxy to get on the Board would handle peoples money?" . . . the current Board/homeowners have a right to be concerned.
RichardP13


Posts:0


01/20/2010 10:20 PM  
IMHO....That sounds like "Assuming facts not in evidence. I can easily see how two or more proxies could have been signed. I think Tim pointed it out very clearly what may have happened:

"It is also possible that the individual changed their mind on who they wanted to represent them and they thought the second proxy would override the first one".

Very reasonable that one candidate got a signed proxy while another candidate may have changed her mind and told the lady the first one would not be allowed. Also,a candidate trying to get on the board would not have access to members in good standing and the member may or may not know they were not in good standing. If one of the candidate was a board member they would have access to that information. It wasn't clear who the proxies were given to, it just said that a homeowner had two proxies turned in for her.

In California, this would have been happened differently.

RobertR1
(South Carolina)

Posts:5164


01/21/2010 12:11 AM  
Olivia,
There is a couple things that strike me about your post, and forgive if I assume something that is without evidence.
I get a little bit of a feeling you (Olivia) are trying to be all things to all people. IF this proxie business constitutes some crime, how can you ban this person from entering into association business in the future. Forget it, you have bigger fish to fry.

The other, more troublesome subject is your statement:"Our management company simply threw out both proxies." That statement should read something like, "Our management company under assignment by the Board to be part of the committee assigned to verify all proxies and maintain security of all proxies , after consulting with the other committee members, the committe agreed those proxies are questionable and they brought the issue to the BOD for direction."

I am suggesting you go back and read the SC Laws and Acts that apply to your association, and possibly your documents do direct how to maintain the integrity of Ballots, votes and the like. Unless under some written directive from the board the M/C doesn't have the authority to muck around in the election process, other than serving as a conduit for the administrative routing of this type correspondence. I also doubt it is proper for the Board to direct just the management company to verify the voting process, this is normally done by a committee made of of members and maybe an outside observer such as a M/C secretary. If nothing is written, your Board needs to set a Policy for elections, if fact, you would be well served for the Board to develop a policy that meets the demands of any and all your governing documents. They are not that complicated and you can probably find templates you can copy at other associations or the M/C can run them down for you.
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


01/21/2010 2:24 AM  
Olivia, unlike a governmental election where once you turn the ballot in there are no do overs, in a corporate setting like an HOA the proxy with the closest date is the valid one. For instance if this person gave me their proxy to vote on 01/15/10 and then changed their mind and gave Tim their proxy on 01/16/10 then that would be the valid proxy or in this case the invalid proxy.

BTW How do you know the second proxy not the first is the “forgery”?

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
MaryA1


Posts:0


01/21/2010 8:15 AM  
If I were on the Teller Committee I would have thrown out both proxies. To me it would be the same as a member casting 2 votes or a husband and wife both voting. I guess it's human nature to always think the worst of people, but this could have been a very honest mistake. The election is over and, because this member was not in good standing and not entitled to vote any how, there is no reason to drag the issue on. Let it go and move on!!
OliviaS
(South Carolina)

Posts:6


01/21/2010 6:54 PM  
My post was asking for suggestions IF the proxie in question was found to be forged. The HOA member who had 2 proxies was willing and able to identify the proxie that was submitted without her knowledge,and with a signature on it was not hers. Our Mgt.Co. usually assists in verifying the status of the members voting. As I said in my post there were many problems with this election and the Mgt.Co was one of them. I was not in charge of this election and attempts to get the Board President to follow procedure fell on deaf ears. We have a new president and I am now on the nominating/voting committee and hopefully this year's election will be executed properly.

Maybe it was not clear from my post that I was asking for advice on maintaining the honesty and integrity of the board, or maybe most people posting to this board do not understand the concept of honesty and integrity.
RobertR1
(South Carolina)

Posts:5164


01/21/2010 7:23 PM  
Olivia, Where did that last sentence come from?
Sure not a good way to conduct an opinion discussion on this site.

The proxies were not counted, they were throwed out, they didn't do harm, the system worked, albeit not the proper system. Now you want to prosecute the suspect that you believe comitted this act. Well Olivia, go to it, just don't ask for my opinion and then suggest I lack integrity because I don't agree with you. What possible reward are you looking for that would cause you to enter into this kind of conflict. Has it occured to you that maybe, just maybe you don't know the truth?
MaryA1


Posts:0


01/22/2010 8:13 AM  
Olivia,

I'll just disregard your last comment as I think you're just a bit frustrated.

First of all, you did not state in your orig. msg that you knew one proxy had been forged. We all gave our opinions based on the fact that you were only assuming that may have happened. Now that we know "the rest of the story" we can comment more intelligently.

IMO, even though the proxy was forged, I don't believe the membership should be informed of what occured. What purpose would it serve? This person's vote would not have been counted anyway and the fact that both proxies were thrown out (which was proper procedure when two votes are recieved from one unit) means the election wasn't tainted by the forged proxy. What the board really needs to do is review their election procedures and take necessary steps to ensure this won't happen again.

You imply that the election was not conducted properly. What else occurred that shouldn't have?
GeraldT4


Posts:1022


01/22/2010 8:49 AM  
Olivia - You are clearly impassioned that business be conducted above board and for that your association is lucky to have you. Unfortunately there is no way to keep unsavory characters from joining the governing ranks, and you can't bar someone from doing so unless they are not current in maintenance fees, documented to be in arrears, and therefore not in good standing. I'd let the matter go and move forward.

Good luck!!
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


01/23/2010 9:46 PM  
Besides which the HOA really has no standing in this matter (the forgery) the person “harmed” is the person whose signature was forged and unless they are willing to pursue it with the authorities there is little you can do. Make sure provisions are in place for next time to prevent it from happening again.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
OliviaS
(South Carolina)

Posts:6


01/27/2010 1:22 PM  
OK, I'll go into the background on the two proxies (and hope this make sense) One of the proxy holders overheard the other proxy holder discussing with the Mgt.Co why the homeowner would not be allowed to vote(regimme fees overdue). The proxy owner asked the homeowner if she gave a proxy to the other proxy holder. The homeowner said "no, she had never even discussed proxies or the election with that person"
The board was made aware of this and felt it needed to look into the situation. We can not really do anything about, but try to fix our election process, which we are doing. The homeowner did appreciate our concern.
MsA
(South Carolina)

Posts:5


01/27/2010 2:18 PM  
There are several more issues surrounding this past election other than this one proxy that has been the focus of the discussion. Questions have been raised regarding the validity of numerous proxies, who filed out the actual ballot forms and why the members of the board of directors were notified by this property manager and provided the
information that a homeowner was completing voting ballots for another person who was in turn filling out these ballots for the person who actually held the proxies (he was notified the Monday after our election on Sat.; I found out this Sunday)
Many residents who attended out election complained that it was chaotic that proxies were not collected at the door and were being passed around the room. Even some of the residents who could not attend but heard have things went, they complained and were concerned of the integrity of the voting and results.

Our bylaws are rather vague in covering election proceedings and our contract with our property management company does not spell out that they are responsible for certifying our community's proxies or elections.
South Carolina 's Code of Laws, under the non profit statues, is clear that a majority vote dictates who is to be elected to the board. I am unsure if this election was up to sniff.

Question:
What do you do with this election?

As a board member, who is to act in the best interest of one's community and the residents of the community, should the improprieties of this election be hidden from our residents?

Does the current board represent the majority of votes of the quorum that was presented at this past election?
If so or if results are questionable, have we acted in good faith, in loyalty to ensure that the majority of legals were obtained.

Are board at risks any civil liability?
- insurance coverage does not cover if board members act dishonestly

Is it right to know that this is wrong and do nothing?


Remembering there are three sides to a story; yours, mine and somewhere in between lies the truth.






TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


01/27/2010 4:33 PM  
MsA,

The question is, did the previous Board accept/ratify the election results?

If they did, the new board has been elected. The membership has the option to challenge the results in court.

If the old board has not yet accepted the results, and they believe that there was conduct that could give the impression of an unfair election process, they should reject the results and hold a special meeting for the sole purpose of a re-election. The membership has the option to challenge this decision in court.


Based on your posting, I am of the expectation that the new board was seated and what is needed is corrective action to ensure this type of behavior doesn't happen again.

You said yourself that your bylaws are vague in the election process. Since you are on the board, fix that. This can be done with a policy resolution and/or a bylaw amendment.

On the public relations side, you should let the general membership know that the board is aware of complaints by the membership in the handling of the election. No need to go into specifics. Inform the membership that these issues will be addressed by a new policy resolution and/or bylaw amendment. Then follow-up on this promise and make sure the resolution is in place before the next election.

Hope this helps,

Tim

MsA
(South Carolina)

Posts:5


01/27/2010 6:50 PM  
Hi Tim.
First, thanks for replying, Your information and comments were helpful.

What is your take on the property manager receiving the compliant from the homeowner alerting him of the mishandling of ballots the Monday after the election? As stated in the earlier posting, the board was never notified of this. We became aware of this from the homeowner just recently.

Our election was held on a Saturday morning and the new board was announced before the meeting was adjourned. Since the new board was announced to the homeowners before the meeting was closed, it would seem that this would constitute ratifying the results?

Thanks again- M
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


01/27/2010 7:01 PM  
MsA,

Since you asked, based only on what has been posted, I would agree that it appears the old Board, by announcing the results at the meeting, ratified/approved the election.

The fact that someone brought an issue about it to the property manager, vs. the board, shouldn't be discounted. Most people aren't sure how to approach an issue that deals with any election process and they probably brought to the person in apparent authority who they are use to dealing with.

Based solely on what has been posted, I do believe that there were issues in the election process. That said, I refer back to my earlier post on how to move forward while still addressing the issue.

Tim
MsA
(South Carolina)

Posts:5


01/28/2010 7:33 AM  
Tim,
Thanks again for you comments.
Indeed, there is much room for improvement for how things are handled with our community's election.
You have been most helpful,
M
RobertR1
(South Carolina)

Posts:5164


01/28/2010 8:45 AM  
MsA,
Clear this up for me. Olivia started this Forged proxie thread. At some point MsA starts posting and Olivia goes away. Why was this?

Your: "Indeed, there is much room for improvement for how things are handled with our community's election."

Could the above be part of your problems?
MsA
(South Carolina)

Posts:5


01/28/2010 11:06 AM  
Hi Robert,
I stated in my postings all the issues that I have been made aware of that may question the validity of the election results for our community's board of directors held last November. The issues went beyond the one proxy that the homeowner did verify as being forged. I wanted all sides to be presented for discussion and to see if others had encountered this.

As in the earlier postings, m personnel concerns are noted.
The last comment, "...Improvement for how things are handled...,," is something that many are in agreement of and Olivia is currently working to make sure these concerns, difficulties, problems and issues do not occur at our next election.

As for why Oli has not posted lately, it may be due to her schedule.
Thanks ,M
RobertR1
(South Carolina)

Posts:5164


01/28/2010 3:50 PM  
MsA,
It is not unheard of that more than one person in the association post on this site. But, then again how would we know. But when two different folks do post on a thread, it is best to determine who supports who and try to get some sense of the community involvement.
To that end, what is the structure in the association that is taking exception to this election held at a meeting in November. If you and Oli represent others in your association, is this your first attempt at questioning the veracity of the Board, if you are? Have you thought about a recall petition at all, what is your purpose in all this, are you all ready to take over the system, if that is your aim. I read you put great weight of the importance of this forged proxy and in the same sentence refer to other things going on in neighborhood. I would also caution that what or whoever you are representing, you have some strong backing to force a change. It can be done, and there should be provisions in the documents to define how to do a recall or how meetings are to be conducted and by whom. As far as what I post, feel free to take what you want and discard the rest, take small steps in this, build a support base, and don't do anything that would get you sued by anyone, you do have the right to question, you have to have proof to accuse and many times, all you gain is the fact you were right, but nothing changes.
MsA
(South Carolina)

Posts:5


01/29/2010 6:17 PM  
Dear Robert,
Thanks again for your comments.

If anyone out there has any experience with similar elections or with wish to share what some of your HOA bylaws our regarding elections, proxies, voting,nominations,etc., any information would be appreciated.
M
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


01/29/2010 8:37 PM  
MsA,

Since you asked. Here is a link to Fairfax County Community Association Manual

It's a good place to get general ideas and information. I say general, because it is written to reflect VA laws. If you look in the administrative section, the document discusses general membership meetings, etc.


Specifically, here is what it says on proxies:

Proxies - Association members should be encouraged to vote in person, but if not possible, proxies should be used if permitted by the association’s documents, because they provide for a greater percentage of the allocated owner/member votes to be cast. A proxy is “a person who is substituted by another to represent him, particularly in some meeting or public body; an agent representing and acting for a principal. A proxy is also the instrument or document containing the appointment of such person”.13 In common terms, a proxy is the signed permission of a valid owner/member that designates another person to cast a vote in place of the owner/member. To be valid, every proxy must designate to whom it is assigned, and must be signed and dated by the owner/member.

Proxies are valid only for a specified time period or meeting date. Most associations’ bylaws permit proxies for officer elections and association matters, while others permit proxies only for director/trustee elections but not for other matters. The bylaws usually limit the number of proxies that can be assigned to and voted by a single person. A standard proxy form, instructions for completing, and a procedure to accept and record proxy votes should be established by the board and distributed with the official notice of
the election meeting. Two types of proxies, “instructed” and “uninstructed”, are commonly used. An instructed proxy authorizes the assigned person to cast the member’s vote in a designated way on each specific issue, e.g., to vote for/against a specific slate of nominees, or for/against proposed change(s) in the documents, etc.. An uninstructed proxy does not designate how the authorized person is to vote on each issue. The governing documents of an association allocate votes to the owner/members, however, some documents are silent on who may be assigned by an owner/ member to cast a vote by proxy.

While it may not be a violation to choose a non-owner, the voting membership should be reminded (via the proxy instructions) that non-owners have no vested interest at stake and may not understand the impact of a particular issue or director/trustee position to be voted. Moreover, contracted management should have no part or involvement in deciding association elections. Assignment of a proxy to a management company, its onsite agent, or representative (who is not an member of the association) causes a serious conflict of interest, a breach of professional and ethical standards, and could invite a liability claim against the directors and/or the association.


Hope it helps,

Tim
RuthF1
(Washington)

Posts:117


02/02/2010 4:08 PM  
We just had a similar situation. Our meeting is this Thursday. Last week we found out someone supposedly paid a person to go around and pick up proxies "on behalf of the board." The person was the same one who in December had done a census for our annexation into the city. She told the owners she had done such a good job on the census that she was hired by the board to pick up proxies. When asked if they should put a name (where it says if left blank the board will vote for you) she said don't worry we will take care of that.

We couldn't figure out who it was until an owner told me she had given her proxy to the woman only to take it back when she heard her tell a different story to her neighbor. The proxy had one of the board members (who wants me out) name typed into the proxy. It wasn't even the same proxy we sent out to our owners.

This is why "it isn't just an HOA". We had some angry owners who thought the board had paid to have this done. We just raised dues this year again and they were hot that we spent money on something like this.

The board member who did it said he was just trying to make sure we had a quorum for the meeting. We can't prove that he hired this person (yet) however everyone we talked to gave us new proxies and wrote on the bottom of them "all other proxies null and void" just in case. The felt pretty stupid they had given their proxy to someone they didn't know. Lesson learned that a proxy is a legal document.
DonnaS
(Tennessee)

Posts:5671


02/03/2010 7:43 AM  

Ruth,

Your Board needs to send out a letter to every homeowner, explaining how the process of voting and proxies are supposed to work according to your own documents. Members seem to be believing anything and everyone who shows up at their door. Post this, mail this and make a clear statement in anyway that you can. Even I got confused as to who is in charge here.
RuthF1
(Washington)

Posts:117


02/03/2010 8:19 AM  
Donna,

Interestingly enough the PM thought it was no big deal and told us to just drop the issue about finding out who was behind it. As Robert and Mary can tell you (i think you might remember me ) from issues that they helped me with almost a year ago, our PM is a nightmare. This is also one board member who has been obstructing everything we try to do because he feels the PM should be doing everything and the BOD is just a figurehead. Thank Goodness all the other BODs have come around and realized they have a job to do.

By the way Robert and Mary THANK YOU for ALL your help. The last 6 mos have been challenging but we are really starting to see headway. Mostly because I make sure we are following our bylaws and R&Rs to the T and I make sure all the BODs are copied on everything we do before we do it. We also keep the owners in the loop so there has been less push back when we have to do the unpopular things.

We finally have just about all of the board on the same page regarding getting a new PM and have actually gotten as far as contacing another PM company who has been highly recommended by some of our owners. They are A+ rated and certified by the BBB. A little more expensive but I think it will be worth it in the end. I'm glad we did this slow and methodically, documenting all of our issues with the PM so there should be no surprise when we change.

We are going to discuss why the Proxy is an important document at the meeting Thursday without going into the drama of the issue. But I agree with you Donna that a letter needs to go out to everyone to explain you don't just give your proxy to anyone who comes to the door.

You want a laugh? We sent an article with the meeting notice about the Census coming up (we had a short one because we were just annexed into the city) with safety tips so owners don't get scammed. Guess they didn't read the part about don't give info to someone you don't know LOL.

Again, the issue wasn't that someone asked people for proxies, it was that they were telling the owners they were collecting them on behalf of the board. We are 99% sure it was the one board member however until we are 100% we can't do anything. However once we have confirmation for sure... dude is gone... Then there will be peace on our board... at least for awhile.
RuthF1
(Washington)

Posts:117


02/03/2010 8:19 AM  
Donna,

Interestingly enough the PM thought it was no big deal and told us to just drop the issue about finding out who was behind it. As Robert and Mary can tell you (i think you might remember me ) from issues that they helped me with almost a year ago, our PM is a nightmare. This is also one board member who has been obstructing everything we try to do because he feels the PM should be doing everything and the BOD is just a figurehead. Thank Goodness all the other BODs have come around and realized they have a job to do.

By the way Robert and Mary THANK YOU for ALL your help. The last 6 mos have been challenging but we are really starting to see headway. Mostly because I make sure we are following our bylaws and R&Rs to the T and I make sure all the BODs are copied on everything we do before we do it. We also keep the owners in the loop so there has been less push back when we have to do the unpopular things.

We finally have just about all of the board on the same page regarding getting a new PM and have actually gotten as far as contacing another PM company who has been highly recommended by some of our owners. They are A+ rated and certified by the BBB. A little more expensive but I think it will be worth it in the end. I'm glad we did this slow and methodically, documenting all of our issues with the PM so there should be no surprise when we change.

We are going to discuss why the Proxy is an important document at the meeting Thursday without going into the drama of the issue. But I agree with you Donna that a letter needs to go out to everyone to explain you don't just give your proxy to anyone who comes to the door.

You want a laugh? We sent an article with the meeting notice about the Census coming up (we had a short one because we were just annexed into the city) with safety tips so owners don't get scammed. Guess they didn't read the part about don't give info to someone you don't know LOL.

Again, the issue wasn't that someone asked people for proxies, it was that they were telling the owners they were collecting them on behalf of the board. We are 99% sure it was the one board member however until we are 100% we can't do anything. However once we have confirmation for sure... dude is gone... Then there will be peace on our board... at least for awhile.
RuthF1
(Washington)

Posts:117


02/03/2010 8:20 AM  
sorry about the duplicate post. my computer was slow so I clicked twice
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