Our firm won an interesting HOA election case two weeks ago in arbitration before the DBPR. I think the case makes for some good precedent here in Florida and deals with an issue that has been plaguing HOAs for all eternity.
As we know, each and every year, we get complaints from people that live in HOAs who say “I want to get involved in the affairs of my community. I want to run for the Board. But every year, we can’t get a quorum at the annual meeting, so there is no election and the same Board has now rolled over for a decade.”
Well the case that we won is called Turner v. Butler Farms and it somewhat put a stop to that nonsense. Here’s what happened. At Butler Farms HOA the governing documents allowed people who want to run for the Board to submit their names to be candidates in advance of the annual meeting. The Board sent out a notice that there are 3 Board seats up for election. Our client, Mrs. Turner was the only person in the HOA to submit her name in writing as a candidate for the Board.
Of course, on the night of the election, the HOA is unable to obtain a quorum at their annual meting. Therefore, the Board took the position that there is no election and the same Board rolls over for another 2 year term. Now, Mrs. Turner was furious, because she was saying I’m the only person who submitted my name for three available seats ——- and the statute is clear —– if there are less candidates than available seats —-NO ELECTION IS NECESSARY. WHO CARES THAT THERE WASN’T A QUORUM AT THE ANNUAL MEETING? I WANT MY SEAT ON THE BOARD!
The Arbitrator held that even though this is in an HOA:
- Since the association allowed names to be submitted in advance of the annual meeting, and
- since Mrs. Turner was the only person who timely submitted her name to be a candidate and
- since there were less candidates than available positions,
no election was necessary —- and it was irrelevant that there wasn’t a quorum at the annual meeting.
And the Arbitrator also held that the 3 directors whose seats were up for re-election do not automatically roll over — because they never submitted their names to be candidates either. So the arbitrator appointed our client Mrs. Turner to the Board and said she is the only member and is allowed to fill the other two vacancies.
This is the first time I am aware of a case in an HOA where there was no quorum for the annual meeting, but someone who wanted to get on the board actually got on the board. And if nothing else, it’s the right decision because it allows more people to participate in the affairs of the community. Here’s someone who was the only person to step up and volunteer. Why in the world shouldn’t she be allowed to volunteer?
So, the bottom line for HOAs about to conduct your election, if your governing documents allow people to submit their names in advance of the annual meeting, and there are less names submitted than available seats, it is irrelevant if you have a quorum at the annual meeting — no election is necessary — and the people who submitted their names are your new Board members.
To view the actual decision click here.