A community association or HOA is both a communal living environment and democratic institution, governed by an elected board that has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the association as a whole. The board itself is governed by an association’s covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), which themselves must adhere to state laws and provisions. There are several layers at play here, but what sets everything in motion is fair and open elections. Unless a community rocks the proverbial vote, lackluster appointments can be made, rational voices can be silenced, and the entire system can begin to crumble.
Thus it’s important for board members, would-be (or could-be) board members, and residents alike to be familiar with the election process, so they can not only participate fully, but also identify if something is amiss.
Always On Time
When it comes to elections, it is crucial for a board to know and act accordingly when specific things need to happen; this timetable or checklist is dictated by both the community association or HOA’s own CC&Rs and by Nevada state law – mainly Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 116.
Among other things, NRS 116 requires that associations stagger their elections for various board positions to prevent the election of an entirely new board each year. For an example, in a scenario where the board generally consists of five members, one year the voters might weigh in on two candidates, and then three the next. That way, new blood is infused into the board without losing the institutional memory that the current board represents.
Prioritizing an open, consistent election timeline is one way to combat resident apathy, which is a constant challenge for boards and community managers alike, according to Brian Molina of Desert Community Management, LLC, in Las Vegas. “I would estimate that with approximately 90 percent of the associations I have managed, we cannot get enough volunteers to run for the board,” he says. “Homeowners in Nevada tend to be anti-homeowners’ association. This results in a minority of volunteers. And with a minority interested in association affairs, it can be construed by the majority of homeowners that elections are rigged, and that board members are hand-picked. As such, a priority in holding elections is to ensure openness and to avoid perception of hand-picking candidates.”