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Jack Hanson: HOAs Gone Haywire, Part III: The 411 On Everything You Need to Know About HOA and COA Board Elections

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Jack Hanson: HOAs Gone Haywire, Part III: The 411 On Everything You Need to Know About HOA and COA Board Elections

When a common interest community, such as a gated subdivision, is built, the developer is in control of the HOA or COA — which handles management of the neighborhood — until 90% of the houses are closed. Then the Association is turned over to the residents, who, at that time, elect a Board of Directors whose raison d’etre is to enact and enforce provisions that protect the homeowners’ investments.

Over the last two decades as the head of The Melrose Management Partnership, I have managed, on behalf of well over a thousand Associations, over 200,000 dwellings of all shapes and sizes, as well as overseen Melrose franchisees who manage numerous communities. And I can tell you the Board electoral process is vital to the ongoing stability — not to mention the sanity — of the Association and the neighborhood as a whole.

As I attest to in part one and two of my HOAs Gone Haywire series — When Homeowners Association Living Goes Haywire: How To Prevent The Common Problems Of Living Under An HOA or COA and HOAs Gone Haywire, Part II: How To Avoid The Most Common Pitfalls Of HOA And COA Management a more informed homeowner can prevent most Association-related conflicts, imbroglios and disappointments. Just a basic understanding that, to a degree, you have to give up being king or queen of your domicile in exchange for being part of your neighborhood democracy can take you far.

The same goes for the basics of the HOA and COA electoral processes. Unfortunately, election disputes are not reserved for the national stage. But homeowners who are informed about how a healthy HOA or COA election process works can prevent most of the polarizing divisiveness, dirty politics, and downright malfeasance that mar the domestic serenity and stability that Association-managed neighborhoods are there to offer in the first place.

With that in mind, here is the 411 on how HOA and COA elections run (and are run right, rather than run into the ground):

If you move into a neighborhood still under developer control, your vote won’t count for diddly squat at first: HOAs and COAs are democracies… but not while the neighborhood is still under development. While the developer is still in control of the Association, they will have several votes per lot to the homeowners’ one vote. During that period, the developer will de facto appoint the Board — usually with his own employees — in an effort to safeguard their investment. The process differs from state to state: in Florida, for instance, when 50% of the homes are sold, a homeowner must be placed on the Board and voted for only by other residents. This helps to facilitate the ultimate transition to a fully homeowner-run Board. When homeowner votes outnumber the developer’s votes, the first democratic election by homeowners for the HOA or COA Board will take place. For HOAs in the state of Florida, this transition is required 90 days after 90% of the lots are sold.