Minnesota homeowners who are part of a homeowner association (“HOA”) have the right to full participation when it comes to deciding how community issues will be handled. Whether it is an in-person vote or by an absentee ballot, voting allows homeowners to make their choices count.
You Have the Right to Vote
Homeowners who are part of an HOA have the right to vote about things that are of concern to the community, in addition to participating in the election of the board members to make decisions on their behalf. The HOA is required to notify homeowners at least 21 days in advance of an annual meeting, and at least 7 days before any other meeting that will take place. Minnesota homeowners still have the right to vote if they are unable to attend a meeting.
Many people may view an HOA as a small democracy. Just as in a true democracy, voting is an essential privilege that comes with the territory of being a member. As with a small democracy or a large democracy, voting on any issue can come with a little controversy.
Voting helps to lead the members and representatives of an HOA relating to matters affecting the present and future of the community. Establishing a smooth process for voting helps dealing with difficult situations or conflicts that may arise, and assists homeowners in feeling comfortable and welcome by their community members.
Minnesota Statues, starting with section 515B.3-108, outline voting procedures for HOAs in Minnesota. While these statutes provide the framework, the laws of each Association should be more detailed. It is very important that HOAs follow the these procedures so that the voting process is as accurate and fair as possible. Making sure that proper voting procedures are clear and accurate will help when the need for interpretation of provisions arise.
What are the Issues?
Included with the notice of an HOA meeting, members should also receive a statement of the issues that will be addressed and voted on. This type of advance notice ensures that all members are informed and aware of Association business and encourages members to participate in the process. When there is detailed information about a particular situation and how it will be addressed, members can feel more comfortable that their concerns have been heard and considered.
What is on the Ballot?
One of the most important details of the voting process is the ballot. When a meeting addresses multiple concerns or if there will be multiple options to vote on, a clear ballot is important to ensure members are not confused or unaware of the issues at hand. A ballot that is worded incorrectly can cause members to submit an inaccurate vote, so it is important to use clear and precise language to ensure everyone fully understands.
Who Can Vote?
When the meeting finally begins, there will need to be a determination of voting eligibility. Each Unit in the HOA is entitled to one vote. Members may submit a vote in person or by proxy. A proxy will generally need to be registered and submitted in writing prior to the meeting. The HOA should provide its homeowners with clear information about how to vote so that all members are able to participate in the decisions of their community.
Bringing Peace to Your Meetings
Clear, strong policies regarding how HOA meetings should be conducted can help keep meetings on track and decrease confusion and frustration by homeowners. Drafting specific provisions in the governing documents assists in maintaining control of meetings and can be extremely helpful in making sure meetings run effectively.
At Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC, we know that finding your way through the requirements of voting and other homeowner association procedures can be difficult. Contact us today for more information about how we can help!