HOA Owner Voting - No Response a "Yes" Vote?
A veteran manager in the Utah HOA industry recently told a lawyer at Morris Sperry that he manages a Utah community association in which the board (with the help of an attorney member) has decided that it is just too hard to get the required 67% approval of owners necessary to approve declaration amendments. So, in a clever solution to this problem, they decided that they will treat any owner who does not respond to a voting request as a "yes" vote. Not surprisingly, amendments to their declarations are now easier than ever! In a perverted twist on voting, unless they get more than 33% of the owners to vote "no," every amendment the board propose passes without any problem! You don't need a single person to vote "yes," or at all, to get amendments to the declaration to pass!
It only takes a minute to think of the fun any owner in this association could have. Just get enough owners to demand a special meeting and vote on a particular issue and your are in business. Sometimes it only takes a handful of owners to demand a special meeting. The board must send out the ballots and apply the same rules they are applying to their amendments. You don't like that rental restrictions . . . demand a special meeting and watch the association board scramble to gather enough no votes to prevent your amendment from passing!
After you quit laughing, a hard reality sets in. The ultimate effect of this voting rule is a letter from an attorney hired by an owner demanding that the association undue all of its bogus declaration amendments and threatening a lawsuit. It is not a question of whether these amendments will be challenged, it is just a question of when and how much it will cost the Association in attorney fees to come to their senses and undue the amendments passed using this laughable voting rule.
Naturally, our veteran manager expressed concern over this voting practice and was told by the board that an outside attorney had offered a legal opinion and that this was a legal way of voting. This is why community associations (condominiums, PUDs, Townhomes, and homeowners associations) should seek out the advice of the HOA attorneys at the Morris Sperry law office. Community association law is a complex area of law with no mercy on general practicioners and dabblers who have one HOA case a year. Would you go to a divorce lawyer for estate planning? Would you want someone who handles personal injury cases to file your bankruptcy? The lawyers at Morris Sperry have one focus - HOA law. That's all they do. Why would you go anywhere else for your HOA legal questions and risk the type of advice that this poor association received?