HOA Elections and the Nomination Process

Steven G. Rappaport

For many years, under HOA law (Chapter 720, Florida Statutes), there was a requirement that HOAs take nominations from the floor at their annual meeting. This put many people at disadvantage because if there was another nomination process prior to the annual meeting, people could put their name in advance and campaign for votes to the disadvantage of those who would later nominate themselves from the floor.  With condominium associations, as distinct from HOAs, you were not permitted to nominate yourself from the floor as the statute (Chapter 718, Florida Statutes) prohibits floor nominations. However, with HOAs, there was always a requirement to allow such nominations. Several years ago, Chapter 720 was amended to state that if an HOA’s election process took nominations prior to the annual meeting, you would not be required to take nominations from the floor on the date of the meeting (Section 720.306(9)(a)). The statute does not really define what it means by “election process”. Therefore, our interpretation up until recently had been that the board could adopt procedures or rules identifying an election process to take nominations prior to the annual meeting. Recently, some recent arbitration decisions ruled that the HOA’s election process must actually be spelled out in the HOA’s governing documents, such as the bylaws.  Therefore, if you are an HOA, and you wish to be able to have nominations taken prior to the annual meeting so that you are not required to take additional nominations from the floor, you must make sure that your bylaws or your governing documents spell that process out expressly, as opposed to only having board-adopted election procedures.  Since we are entering into the time of the year where many HOA’s are going through their elections, it is our recommendation that you consult with your HOA attorney to make sure that your governing documents and your election materials have a pre-call for candidates. If it is not, we recommend that you amend your documents to confirm that your election process is run in accordance with Chapter 720 and with your HOA documents moving forward. Steven G. Rappaport is a...

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How to Enforce a Penalty for HOA Violations


As community association attorneys, one of the problems we face quite often with our association clients is how to prevent violations of the governing documents and rules of the communities. How do we prevent the homeowner from painting their house pink? How do we prevent people from hanging towels outside on the common element rails and doing other things that really are violations of the rules and regulations and the governing documents? And what a lot of board members and managers don't realize is that associations are sort of mini-democracies. What does that mean, exactly? There's a certain level of “due process” that associations must follow if they're going to fine somebody or if they're going to suspend somebody’s right to use the pool, or their right to use the tennis court. And one of the things that's common among both the Condominium Act and the Homeowners Association Act, is the fact that an association must establish a committee of non-board member owners who will hear complaints that the board has imposed regarding violations of the governing documents. This group serves as an independent body that decides whether they're going to uphold or approve the board's actions and decisions in relation to imposing fines and suspensions. Furthermore, both Acts require that the owner who was in violation and subject to a board-levied fine or suspension be provided with at least 14 days’ notice as well as the opportunity to be heard before this committee to present their case. This gives the person in violation a chance to present their opinion and present their evidence of why they think that the fine and the suspension should not be imposed. Only then, when it's all said and done, can the committee ultimately decide whether to approve or reject the fine or suspension. What we often face as association lawyers are situations where perhaps that procedure wasn't followed, where a board or managers just decided that this person violated the governing documents, and the violating party all of a sudden has a $1,000 fine on their account. When they come to us to try...

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