FAQ - HOA Elections

How much experience do you have in holding elections for common interest developments in California?

We have more than 35 years of experience holding elections for large and small homeowner associations. We have held hundreds of elections for every type of common interest development and serve all 58 counties in California. We have never had an election contested because we are experts at holding elections.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections charge a rush fee for last minute engagements?

No. There is never a rush fee charged to our clients. We appreciate your business.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections charge an extra fee for elections held on weekends?



Does HOA Inspector if Elections charge an extra fee if you are required to have more than one inspector involved in an election?



Our community association is nearly one thousand homes. Do you have the staff to handle large associations?

Absolutely. We can handle one-thousand homes or more anywhere in California. Our staff is more than adequate.


If our homeowner association hires you as our inspector of elections will you prepare the ballots, and all instructions the owners will need, or do we need to hire an attorney to prepare anything?

Regardless of whether the election is for directors, an increase in regular or special assessments, the restatement of governing documents, or otherwise, we will provide the appropriate ballots and instructions as part of our service.


Can you provide our HOA board with a questionnaire that can be provided to board member nominees designed to obtain information that will help owners decide how they should cast their ballot? This is particularly important for us because we have several off-site owners and several new owners.

Yes. Please see: Questionnaire for Board Member Nominees.


What are advisory elections?

Sometimes boards hold elections for advisory purposes only, in order to determine the desire of the membership regarding a particular issue. When boards hold elections where the authority to make a particular decision rest with the board, and not with the membership, such advisory elections can be held informally without the need to comply with the association's formal, written election rules.


I am a board member. Does receiving compensation for serving as a board member put me at risk? I would like to paid if I provide the service of inspector of elections.

You are definitely placing yourself at risk if you are paid to be the inspector of elections. See: Protection of HOA Directors and Officers Against Personnel Liability.


Our HOA wants to elect a new board of directors and vote whether to approve restated governing documents in the same election. Is there an additional charge for this?

Yes. The additional fee is 25%.


What happens if our HOA has a tie vote for directors?

While California law does not provide a remedy, there are ways to address this issue. See: Tie Votes - HOA Board Elections.


We are a small HOA with lots of deferred maintenance and other problems to solve. No one wants to run for the board. What can we do to encourage owners to run for board positions?

I suggest that you encourage all owners to read: Why Should You Run for Election to the Board of Directors, How to Get Elected to the Board of Directors of Your HOA, and What Happens if Nobody Runs for the Board. Under no circumstances should the association compensate board members.


What happens if no one wants to serve on the board of our small condominium association?

In accordance with the California Corporations Code, all homeowner associations whether incorporated or not, must have a board of directors. Without a board, an association cannot conduct business which means that insurance policies cannot be renewed, rules enforcement ceases, lawsuits cannot be filed or defended, and all maintenance comes to an end since vendors and contractors cannot be paid. Management companies have no authority to appoint directors and must immediately cease serving the association. A court may appoint a receiver which is a very expensive alternative.


Our homeowner association has extreme difficulty in obtaining a quorum to elect directors. Can we adopt a rule and charge homeowners a fee who refuse to vote or at least appear at our meetings so we can reach a quorum?

No. The fee would actually constitute a fine and would be unreasonable and unenforceable. I suggest something more positive such as a raffle prize for those who cast ballots.


What can happen if our HOA board fails to hold an election of directors on time?

The failure to hold elections for HOA directors can have serious consequences. See: Failure to Hold Board Elections on Time and Most Common Reasons Board Members are Recalled.


What can happen if the board of directors of a homeowner association fa ils to take or maintain minutes of their board meetings?

The board of directors of all corporations in California, including the non-profit mutual benefit corporations utilized by California homeowner associations, are required by law to take and maintain minutes of all board meetings. Minutes are the official records of the proceedings of a corporation 's actions. See: Board's Failure to Take and Maintain Minutes.


I am part of a group that wants to recall the board of directors of our homeowner association. They violate the Davis-Stirling Act and our governing documents constantly. We have been told that recalling an HOA board is very expensive and complex. What is your opinion?

Recall elections are not complex if you have the right knowledge and experience. They are also not expensive. In fact, we do not charge more for recall elections than we do for ordinary elections. If your group is serious about recalling the board of your association, please call me so we can set up a Zoom meeting with the recall committee. You will learn what you need to know, and the consultation is free. See: Petition for Recall of the Entire Board of Directors, Recall Elections - Board of Directors and Most Common Reasons Board Members are Recalled.


A group of owners within our homeowner association are planning to initiate a recall election of the entire board of directors. We expect the ballot to be divided into two parts. First, owners will choose yes or no on the issue of recalling the entire five person board, and then, if successful, the owners will get to vote for the nominees to fill the vacant positions. Can the five individuals who are subject to the recall, nominate themselves for election to board if they are recalled?

Absolutely, as long as they otherwise meet the qualifications to serve on the board. Each of the five board members subject to the recall, must be evaluated as individuals. Because of the way the law is written, it is not unusual for a recall committee to want to recall one or two members, but they recall the entire board because it is easier and more certain to be successful than removing the one or two targeted members. The other acceptable members, often run again with the blessing of the recall committee.


Our HOA does not have election rules and we have not held an election for well over one year which is in violation of our bylaws. Is it legal for us to hold an election for directors even though the board has not adopted election rules?

Holding an election for directors without having adopted election rules is preferable to not holding an election at all. Under these circumstances, the inspector of elections will rely upon the association's bylaws and California law, but this is not a substitute for the requirement that boards adopt election rules. The election can be held, but your board still needs to adopt election rules for future elections. See: Election Rules - Example.


Our HOA board is intending on holding a secret ballot meeting to approve or disapprove a special assessment. Given there no nominees to announce, are we still required to send our a pre-ballot notice to the membership? We would like to avoid the 30 day period before ballots can be mailed.

You are still required to send out the pre-ballot notice because other information is required to be sent to the membership at least 30 days before the ballots can be mailed.


Is HOA Inspector of Elections a member of any professional organizations?

Yes. We are members of Community Associations Institute (CAl) and the California Association of Community Managers (CACM).


Has anyone ever challenged the election results when you have acted as the inspector of elections?

No. In more than 35 years of conducting HOA elections, no one has ever challenged the results. During that period, we have conducted more than one thousand elections for board members, and to approve or disapprove, special or regular assessments, recalls of board members, restated or amended governing documents, a loan to the HOA, transfers of common area to members, and other reasons.


What are the most common reasons elections are challenged?

Historically nearly all challenges to HOA elections have taken place in situations where associations have failed to hire a professional, experienced, third party inspector of elections. The law concerning HOA elections is complex and requires strict adherence. Many of the challenges that take place include claims that not every member received a ballot, or that contain ballots, allegedly returned, were not counted. The claims often allege that the inspector of election was a biased homeowner and not objective as required by law. Formal challenges to HOA elections are brought in a court of law.


Are members of a homeowner association required to live on the property in order to serve as a director?

No. A nominee must own a unit or lot in order to serve on the board, but is not required to live on the premises. An association may create a rule that requires an owner to have owned his or her unit or lot for at least year before running for the board, but this is not mandatory. It is permissive under California law.


A member of our homeowner association sued the association and wants to run for the board. It this permissible?

Unfortunately, yes. The California Legislature passed a law in 2020 that permits owners who are suing their board or the association to run for the board.


A member of our HOA is a convicted felony for robbery and wants to run for the board. Can he do this?

Possibly. The California Legislature passed a law in 2020 that permits convicted felons to serve on their HOA boards unless it will prevent the HOA from obtaining a fidelity bond. You will need to check with your insurance carrier.


We have many owners that speak Mandarin Chinese. Do you have someone on your staff who speaks Chinese that can attend our annual meeting when we count the votes for directors?

Yes. One of the owners of HOA Inspector of Elections is from China. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, the dialect from her home city of Wenzhou, China, and, of course English.


Will HOA Inspector of Elections conduct its services by Zoom if requested?

Yes. We can provide our inspector of elections services in person or by Zoom depending on the location and preference of our client. Zoom meetings almost always save homeowner associations money.


Does your company prefer to hold HOA elections by Zoom or in person?

Unless our client has a preference, we prefer Zoom meetings. Elections in which the ballots are counted via a Zoom meeting always save our clients' money.


Our community association recently held a board election by Zoom Meeting. We have 20 units, and the quorum is 11 units. Ten of the units mailed a ballot to the inspector of elections. However, two members from different units attended the Zoom ballot counting meeting. Neither had mailed in a ballot to the inspector of elections. Did we legally meet the quorum requirements?

Yes. The mailed ballots as well as the members who attend the meeting, all count toward the quorum requirement.


Our small community association scheduled a meeting to count ballots for a special assessment. A quorum was achieved. Nobody on the board showed up and the management company did not attend. Only one homeowner attended. Was it lawful for the inspector of elections to count the ballots?

Yes. If the ballots received established a quorum and the homeowners were provided proper notice, the ballots could be counted, and the results announced.


What is the procedure you utilize for Zoom meetings?

HOA Inspector of Elections provides every member of homeowner associations with written link instructions so they can join a Zoom meeting either by computer or by phone. The instructions are included as part of the pre-ballot notice. We strongly recommend that either the management company or board send the link to the membership by email at least one week before the election to make it easier for members to join the meeting. If boards want to continue the meeting after the votes are tabulated, we turn the hosting over to the management company or board.


Is it possible to hold an election online?

No. The Davis-Stirling Act currently requires a paper ballot using a two envelope voting system for elections of directors, removal of directors, special assessments, amendments to bylaws, amendments to CC&Rs, and for the granting of exclusive use common area. Even if the law is changed, we recommend the use of the existing system because it makes it far less likely that any fraud will take place.


What are the types of elections that you have held?

We have held secret ballot elections for: (1) Election of Directors (2) Special and Regular Assessments, (3) Recall of Directors, (4) Amendments to CC&Rs, (5) Amendments to Bylaws (6) Repeal of Operating Rules, and (7) Grants of Exclusive Use Common Area.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections provide election services to Tenancy in Common (TIC) associations?

Absolutely. We provide election services to Tenancy in Common (TIC) associations located anywhere in California.


If our board receives a properly drafted and signed petition to recall one or more board members, is the board required to hold a recall election?

Absolutely, upon receiving a properly drafted and signed petition for the recall of one or more directors, the board shall cause notice to be given to the members entitled to vote that a meeting will be held at a time fixed by the board not less than 35 nor more than 90 days after the receipt of the request. If the notice is not given within 20 days after receipt of the request, the persons entitled to call the meeting may give the notice or the superior court of the proper county shall summarily order the giving of the notice, after notice to the corporation giving it an opportunity to be heard. The applicable code section is California Corporations Code Section 7511 (C).


What are the reasons that justify the recall of a board of directors?

Unless the circumstances are highly exceptional, homeowners usually resent having a recall election scheduled within three months before or after a regularly scheduled election of directors. Consequently, scheduling a recall election during these periods are nearly always unsuccessful. See: Most Common Reasons Board Members are Recalled.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections handle Delegate District Voting for community associations?



Do the secret ballot, two envelope requirements apply to homeowner associations where votes are cast by delegates or other elected representatives?

No. However, many homeowner associations that are organized with delegate voting choose to use the secret ballot, two envelope procedure in order to provide the membership with confidence that the election will be conducted fairly. Delegate voting is not common in California except for associations with more than 1,000 members.


Will HOA Inspector of Elections provide us with a count of the ballots received prior to the actual counting of the ballots at an open meeting?

Yes. Upon request, we will provide existing board members, candidates, and the management company a ballot count as often as reasonably needed. We fully understand the importance of providing this information.


Is it possible to elect a board by acclamation if the number of nominees is equal to or less than number of open board positions?

Yes. It is possible, but given the legal requirements, the procedure is not often utilized. See: Acclamation-Uncontested Elections for Board Members. Elections by acclamation take more time and cost more than standard elections.


What happens if we don't achieve a quorum at our election meeting?

Effective January 1, 2024, in the absence of a quorum, associations may adjourn a membership meeting to a date no less than 5 and no more than 30 days after the adjourned meeting, at which time the quorum shall be 20%.


Does California law permit two co-owners of a unit to both serve as board members at the same time?

Yes, however a homeowner association may disqualify a person from nomination as a candidate for the board of directors, if the person, if elected, would be serving on the board at the same time as another person who holds a joint ownership interest in the same separate interest as the person, and the other person is either nominated for the current election or is an incumbent board member. The majority of HOA election rules prohibit two people who are co-owners from being nominated or serving on the board at the same time.


Are write-in candidates required to be permitted by the Davis-Stirling Act?

No. While write-in candidates may be permitted by an association's governing documents, by implication, they are not permitted unless the governing documents provide for write-in candidates.


Are nominees for election of directors required to be nominated by a nominating committee if an association's bylaws call for the establishment of a nominating committee?

No. Owners that qualify can nominate themselves or another qualified homeowner.


Our HOA has only five units. Is it possible for our homeowner association to avoid the expense of utilizing the two-envelope secret ballot process?

If your association's bylaws or CC&Rs state that each unit is represented on the board, your association is exempt from the secret ballot process. See Civil Code Section 5100(f). The members of the association will still be required to elect officers including a president, secretary, and treasurer.


How can anyone be certain that the inspector of elections will act fairly and objectively?

The contract that we sign for election services is between the Inspector and the association which is either a corporation or an unincorporated association. The board members that sign the agreement are not a party to the agreement. The inspector of elections owes a duty to the association and every member of the association to act fairly and honesty, and to follow the law. We take our responsibility very seriously. When an election has been concluded, we want the person or persons who did not prevail to agree that the election was conducted fairly and honestly.


Can our HOA request that the inspector of elections number each ballot so we can reduce the possibility of election fraud?

No. California law does not permit any markings on election ballots that could possibly be used to link a ballot to a member.


What is the greatest source of fraud in HOA elections?

The greatest source of fraud is the use of fraudulent proxies. That is precisely the reason proxy forms are no longer required to be distributed to voters in California and the reason most associations have amended their bylaws to prohibit the use of proxies. See: Voting to Amend or Restate HOA Bylaws - Reasons and Voting to Eliminate Proxy Voting.


Has California ever considered permitting HOA elections to be conducted electronically?

Yes. Electronic voting measures have been introduced in the state legislature but have never been approved due to concerns about the ease of committing fraud. Most of the few states that have tried electronic voting have reported problems and some are expected to return to the customary system used in California and most other states.


Are candidates for the position of director permitted to obtain a list of HOA members so they can send election material to them?

Yes. Homeowner associations are required to keep a record of its members including their names, property addresses, mailing addresses, and email addresses. Members are permitted to inspect and copy the information unless an owner opts out of providing the information by notifying the association in writing that the member prefers to be contacted by means of the alternative process described in California Corporations Code Section 8330(c).

The information may not used for personal or business purposes. If must be used for a purpose reasonably related to association business such as an election. Any person who misuses a membership list can be held liable for damages caused by the misuse, plus punitive damages for a fraudulent or malicious misuse.


What happens after I send in my Nomination Application to the Inspector of Elections?

Your nomination application will be mailed to every member of your association along with the other nomination applications and the pre-ballot notice that is required by law. It is therefore important for every nominee to complete the optional part of application form which provides every nominee the opportunity to provide the membership reasons to vote for them. It is also important to write neatly or print the information using black ink so that members of your association have no difficulty reading your information.


Who is permitted to witness or closely observe the counting of ballots by the inspector of elections?

Any member of the association has the legal right to observe the opening of the ballot envelopes and the counting of the votes, as long as they do not interfere with the conduct of the election. They may not observe how each member of the association voted.


How are tie votes for directors resolved?

The decision is left to the inspector of elections to determine whether the association’s bylaws or election rules provide an answer, and then utilize the method set forth in those documents, if any. If the bylaws or election rules do not provide an answer, the inspector of elections will usually request that the candidates agree to the flip of a coin. Otherwise, a run-off election will be required to break a tie vote.


After the election of directors, when do their terms commence?

Newly elected directors are seated immediately after the inspector of elections announces the results of the election. The only exception would be if the association's governing documents establish a different date. This is extremely unlikely.


I am not currently on the board of my condominium association. I have a group of homeowners that wants to recall the board of directors. Can you assist us?

Assuming the recall group properly submits a recall petition to the board of your association, the board will have the obligation to arrange an election. If we are selected by your board, both sides will experience a fair election process that meets all requirements of the law.


I have learned from several sources that it takes approximately 105 days to hold an HOA board election or other secret ballot election. Why does it take so long?

The California legislature passed a new in 2019 that went into effect on January 1, 2020. The law forces HOA boards to follow numerous time-consuming procedures and timelines that make it impossible to materially reduce the time to hold HOA elections. The law also made it far more expensive for associations to hold HOA elections. We generally require 95 to 100 days for elections.


Our HOA will be voting to restate our governing documents very soon. Will your company send each member a copy of both the existing and proposed restated documents?

Absolutely. Every owner must be provided the opportunity to compare the existing documents with the proposed restated documents before they vote.


Are nominations from the floor required by the Davis-Stirling Act?

No. However, the bylaws or election rules an association may permit nominations from the floor.


I lost my ballot. How can I obtain a replacement?

Simply call or email our office and we will immediately mail a replacement ballot package to you.


Can an owner of a unit or lot substitute their own ballot for the ballot provided by the inspector of elections?

No. Only official ballots distributed by the inspector of elections can be counted.


Is it lawful for co-owners such as spouses, to run for the board and serve as board members at the same time?

Yes. It is lawful, but an HOA board can adopt election rules that prohibit a co-owner from being nominated as a candidate for the board if he or she, if elected, would be serving at the same time as a co-owner. Such a provision may also be added to the bylaws as an amendment in order to make the restriction more difficult to overturn. Many homeowners are uncomfortable with co-owners having control of two out of three or two out of five votes on an HOA board.


Can Nominations be disqualified if the deadline for submitting nominations has passed?

Yes, unless the bylaws or election rules allow for an extension of time.


Does your firm act as the inspector of elections for organizations other than homeowner associations?

Absolutely. We can act as the inspector of elections for any type of corporation or unincorporated association such as private clubs, unions, fraternal organizations, mutual water companies, charities, and other types of organization anywhere in California.


Our HOA is self-managed. I'm sure you work with many management companies. Can you refer our board to a competent manager that provides good service?

Absolutely. We work with HOA management companies in Northern, Central, and Southern California. If you are self-managed, we can probably refer your board to a professional homeowner association management company that serves your area.


Does your firm provide any other services in addition to acting as the inspector of elections for common interest developments?

Yes. Another division provides HOA assessment collection services throughout California. The website is Pacific-AssociationCollections.com. A separate division provides court judgment collection services: PRCCollections.net. Michael Chulak has also provided expert witness and consulting services for attorneys, management companies and homeowner associations more than 150 times. For professional minutes: HOARecordingSecretary.com


Our community association is self-managed which puts a significant burden on the board. Since you work many management companies, can you recommend one or two HOA management companies to us that we can interview?

Yes. Self-management does not make sense given all the laws that association boards must follow in California. We often recommend management companies and on site managers to self-managed associations.


Is it possible for our HOA to amend our bylaws and CC&Rs to require that a super majority of the board make certain types of decisions?



Our board would like to pass an election rule that makes it mandatory that all nominees for the board of directors appear at a candidate's forum to answer questions presented by the owners. Is this possible?

No. This would be a non-permitted qualification. See: Candidate Qualifications for Board of Directors.


Can a homeowner association sell or transfer exclusive use rights to a portion of the common area to one homeowner?

Yes, provided that two-thirds of the membership vote by secret ballot to approve the transfer.


Can our HOA amend its election rules to include a candidate forum for those members running for the board?

Yes. A candidate forum makes sense for every HOA, large or small, because it provides owners the opportunity to ask questions of candidates that must be answered publicly. An association can easily add a requirement for a candidate's forum to its election rules, but it can also be deleted easily. A provision in the bylaws would be more permanent.


Can a community association amend its governing documents to limit the ability of the board to spend money on items not included in either the approved operating budget or in the budget established in the association's reserve study?

Yes. Any such amendment should be very carefully drafted by an experienced HOA attorney. The proposed amendment will need to be approved by the membership utilizing the two envelope secret ballot procedure.


We have had owners within our community paint their homes some rather usual and unattractive colors. Can we amend our CC&Rs to require owners to select from a list of approved paint colors?

Absolutely. Many associations do this in order to maintain an attractive appearance in their community. This tends to increase property values.


Our association's water bills have dramatically increased over the last few years because the cost of water has skyrocketed. Can our community association amend our CC&Rs to prohibit the washing of cars anywhere within the community?

Yes. Your HOA can amend its CC&Rs to prohibit members from washing vehicles, boats, and trailers anywhere on the premises. Since car washes recycle their water, utilizing a car wash saves water and it transfer the cost to the users.


Can our HOA amend our CC&Rs to require owners to utilize a tenant lease addendum when renting their unit that protects the association?

Yes. See: Voting to Require Tenant Lease Addendum.


Is it possible for our homeowner association to vote to transfer common area attic spaces to individual unit owners making the attics a part of their units?

Absolutely. See: Voting to Transfer Common Area Attic Space.


The board of directors of our community association, as well as many non-board members are concerned about the fact that one member of our HOA has purchased several condominium units within our homeowner association. As a result, he has the right to vote all of his units, including any he may acquire in the future. He will soon have enough votes to exercise substantial control over selecting board members and establishing policy. Can we amend our governing documents to limit the number of votes he may exercise notwithstanding his acquisition of more condominium units?

Yes. Many homeowner associations are amending their governing documents in order to prevent such situations. The amendment must be drafted by an experienced HOA attorney and then approved by the membership utilizing the two envelope, secret ballot process. See: Voting to Limit Voting Rights.


Our HOA's CC&Rs require the payment of a $5 late fee if an owner is delinquent in paying their monthly assessment. Since the amount is so low, many homeowners pay late which causes a cash flow problem. Can our HOA amend our CC&Rs to increase the late fee to $10 or 10% whichever is greater?

Absolutely. An HOA attorney can prepare a simple amendment that must then be approved using the two envelope, secret ballot  process. Many homeowner associations with low late fees are approving such amendments in order to improve their cash flow and revenue.


Can our HOA vote to create staggered terms for the election of directors?

Yes. Many community associations are amending their bylaws so that directors serve two year terms with about half of the directors being elected each year. This results in continuity which is very important to every HOA. Amending bylaws of an association requires a vote of the membership using the two-envelope secret ballot procedure.


Are the boards of stock cooperatives required to be elected by secret ballot?

Yes. All common interest developments must elect their boards by secret ballot.


Do you provide consulting services to homeowner associations and HOA management companies?

Yes. In addition to HOA Consulting, I also provide consulting services and expert witness services to attorneys throughout California.


Can an HOA amend its CC&Rs to prohibit smoking in certain areas?

Absolutely. Amendments to prohibit. smoking are becoming more common each year. Such restrictions reduce fire risks, health hazards, and nuisance issues. They also tend to increase property values. See: Voting to Amend CC&Rs - Smoking.


Can we amend our HOA Bylaws and Election Rules to create term limits for board members?

Yes. When SB 323 went into effect on January 1, 2020, it prohibited term limits for directors of homeowner associations. The California legislature subsequently amended the Davis-Stirling Act to permit associations to establish term limits for directors. See: Voting for Term Limits for HOA Directors.


Our HOA board is concerned about people bring dangerous breeds of dogs into our community such as pit bulls at rottweilers. Can we amend our CC&Rs to prohibit such breeds?

Absolutely. More and more HOAs in California are amending their CC&Rs in order to minimize both serious injuries and even death. An HOA attorney can prepare the amendment which must be approved by a quorum of the membership by means of a two envelope, secret ballot election. See: Voting to Minimize Liability for Dangerous Animals.


Can our community association amend its CC&Rs to protect the view of homeowners?

Absolutely. The views available from some homes are very valuable and should be protected like any other valuable asset. See: Voting to Protect Views in Community Associations.


Our HOA is small and we have historically had great difficulty in finding members willing to serve on the board. Is it possible for our community association to hire one or more professional board members?

Yes. It is unusual, but it can be done. You probably will be required to amend your governing documents to allow for paid non member directors.


Our HOA is constantly struggling to achieve a quorum when we vote for directors which is frustrating and ends up costing the association and its members unnecessary additional costs. What do you recommend?

It is recommended that you direct your members to: Why You Must Vote for Directors.


Our community association has been self-managed for many years which has been disastrous for the association and its members. We have a new board and want to make certain the association never repeats the mistake of forgoing professional HOA management. Can we amend our CC&Rs to require professional property management?

Absolutely. Many homeowner associations that have poor results with self-management are amending their CC&Rs to require professional property management.


If our homeowner association needs to restate or amend our CC&Rs or Bylaws, can you refer an attorney to our board or management company who has experience in this area the law?

Yes. Do not hesitate to call if you require a referral.


Can our homeowner association utilize our association's bylaws as a substitute for election rules and is there a default set of election rules we can rely upon?

No. The California Civil Code does not have a set of default election rules and clearly requires associations to adopt formal election rules. Associations that do not adopt election rules are in violation of California law.


What are some of the reasons community associations amend or restate their corporate bylaws?

HOA bylaws address elections of directors, elections of officers, the holding of regular board meetings, executive session meetings, emergency meetings, qualifications of directors, recalls of board members, and more. Sometimes the bylaws provided by the developer of the association are inadequate, obsolete, or simply don't reflect the desires of the membership.


Is it permissible for ballots to be mailed to the board or management company?

No. Ballots should always be mailed or delivered directly to the inspector of elections. If ballots are mailed or delivered to board members or the HOA management company, it is easy for an owner to accuse the board or management company of discarding ballots from specific individuals, thus tainting the fairness of the election.


The bylaws of our HOA establish the quorum for elections including a reduced quorum requirement in the event a meeting is adjourned for lack of a quorum. If the reduced quorum is not achieved, is the board required to try again?

There is no required number of attempts a board must make to achieve a quorum except as set forth in the bylaws and/or election rules. If the board concludes after two attempts that the membership is not interested in participating in the election process, it can stop soliciting ballots. On the other hand, if the total number of ballots received is very close to a quorum, it may decide on one further attempt. The board has discretion but must exercise its fiduciary duty to the membership when making a decision. If a quorum cannot be achieved, the inspector of elections will retain the unopened ballot envelopes since any member has the right to petition the superior court for a reduced quorum requirement. If an election does not take place, each existing board member remains on the board until the next election or his or her resignation.


Our HOA management company has suggested they can save our HOA money by conducting our election of directors. Is there any reason not to use them?

Absolutely. They cannot lawfully act as your association's inspector of elections. See: Who is Prohibited from Being an Inspector of Elections.


What is the rationale for not allowing HOA boards of management companies to mail out and/or receive election ballots?

Prior to the new law being passed, the state legislature received numerous complaints that many boards and management companies were not sending ballots to certain owners, and in some cases were trashing ballots in order to make it more certain that the existing board members would be reelected or that no quorum would be achieved, resulting in the same board members keeping their positions. The result was a new law requiring an independent inspector of elections.


What does the inspector of elections do, if he or she receives an unsigned envelope?

The ballot cannot be counted if the envelope is unsigned.


What functions can our management company perform in connection with board elections or other secret ballot elections?

Only two. The management company may mail Nomination Applications to the owners, but they should be returned directly to the inspector of elections in order to reduce the possibility that the management company might be drawn into any dispute regarding the election process. A better practice would be to have the inspector of elections mail out the Nomination Applications. The management company can also mail a copy of the Election Rules to every member of the association. Owners are entitled to a copy of the Election Rules by mail or by means of their being posted on the association's website.


Is it permissible for homeowner associations to fine owners who refuse to vote in HOA elections, or at least submit a ballot to be counted toward establishing a quorum?

No. Neither the Davis-Stirling Act nor the California Corporations Code authorize an HOA board of directors to fine members of an association for not voting.


Can an association disqualify a member from voting if the member is delinquent in paying their assessments?

No. Members can vote even if they are in collection.


Is an inspector of elections required by law to verify the qualifications of candidates for election to the board of directors?

No. Verifying candidate qualifications is not one of the legal duties of inspectors of election. Notwithstanding, if an owner was to challenge the eligibility of a person to run and serve as a board member, the inspector of elections can require the person to produce proof of eligibility.


What is the process for disqualifying a candidate for the board of directors?

Regardless of the reason for disqualifying a person from nomination, a homeowner association may not disqualify the person if the person has not been provided an opportunity to engage in Internal Dispute Resolution (lDR) with the association.


Can an association disqualify a member from voting if the member has failed to pay fines assessed after a proper hearing and notice?



Is it permissible for homeowner associations to offer gifts to members of their associations for voting in HOA elections?

Yes. As long as it is authorized by the board in their election rules and funds are budgeted for the gifts, it is permissible.


Who is entitled to vote when a unit or lot is owned by a legal entity that is not a natural person such as a corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership?

The governing authority of the entity has the power to appoint a person to be a member for purposes of voting in elections.


Can a bank that has foreclosed on a unit or lot cast a vote in a secret ballot election?

Yes. Any legal entity that owns a unit or lot can appoint a representative to vote in a secret ballot election.


Our homeowner association acquired a condominium by means of a foreclosure. How does the association determine who has the right to vote on behalf of the HOA?

Unless the governing documents address this situation (and most don't), most boards vote to cast the ballot for quorum purposes only, leaving it up to the membership to determine who will serve on the board, etc. This is fair and eliminates any conflict of interest issues.


Can the spouse of a record owner in California run for the board of directors of a homeowner association if their spouse is not on the board or does not run for a board position?

Possibly, but not likely. It depends on how the governing documents define the word "member". See: Proof of Membership - Secret Ballot Elections.


Can someone present a signed, but unrecorded deed in order to meet the qualification requirements for running, for the board of directors?

Unless the bylaws of your association include highly exceptional language, the answer is no. The Davis-Stirling Act requires all nominees to be members which are nearly always defined as record owners. Record owners are owners created by a recorded instrument, usually a recorded deed.


Can Delinquent Homeowners Run for the Board?

Possibly. If an association's election wles are silent on the subject, a homeowner who is delinquent in paying his or her assessments, may run for the board. However, an association's election rules may prohibit owners from running for the board if they are delinquent in paying their assessments.


Who is entitled to vote when a unit or lot is held in the name of a living trust?

A named trustee of the trust has the power to vote. Typically, the name of the trustee of a living trust is part of the name of the trust. For example: The John Doe Living Trust of 2021.


Can a homeowner that is in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vote in a secret ballot election?

No. Once an owner files for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, the bankruptcy trustee obtains the right to cast the ballot for the unit or lot.


If someone combines two condominiums, do they have the right to cast one or two votes?

They will have the right to cast two votes because they will still own two units.


What is the record date and what is its significance as it relates to HOA board elections?

The record date is the date used to determine who has the right to vote in an election being held by a community association. The record date is usually, but not always, the date the ballots are mailed. The record date is defined in the bylaws of every homeowner association. See: Record Date for Meetings and Voting.


Can a developer of a common interest development nominate a non-member candidate for election to the board of directors of an association?

Yes. They can nominate a person consistent with the governing documents of the HOA and the regulations of the California Department of Real Estate.


If our homeowner association hires you as the HOA inspector of elections, will we be able to contact you after business hours or on weekends if necessary?

Absolutely. We fully appreciate how important HOA elections are to all members of the association. Accordingly, we will provide you with a cell phone number so you can reach us whenever necessary.


Can HOA Inspector of Elections prepare election rules for our homeowner association?

No. Election Rules must be prepared for an association by a California licensed attorney. An excellent attorney prepared document is on our website for educational purposes only. It should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice.


Our association does not have election rules. How long does it take to adopt election rules?

Election rules are adopted like any other operating rules. They must be reduced to writing, sent to the membership, and voted upon by the board of directors at an open board meeting. Members must be provided a 28 day notice of the meeting. While owners may not vote on the proposed election rules, they may comment on them before the board votes. Election rules do not go into effect until 90 days after they are adopted by the board.


We just held an election for directors of our community association. The person who received the highest number of votes insists that he should be president. Does he have the right to assume the office of president?

No. Officers are elected by the board of directors at a noticed board meeting. The number of votes each director received has no legal bearing on the election of officers.


If I mail in my ballot, but change my mind, can I rescind my ballot and submit a new one?

No. Under California law, all ballots submitted are irrevocable.


As part of your services, does HOA Inspector of Elections provide proxy forms to members of homeowner associations?

No. Given that most all elections are held by secret ballots mailed by each member to the inspector of elections, proxies have become obsolete.


What is SB 323?

Senate Bill 323 became law in California on January 1, 2020. It substantially modified the law regarding the conduct of secret ballot elections. It is the law followed by HOA Inspector of Elections.

Given the new law, elections for directors now take about 100 days from start to completion. Other elections require approximately 70 days from start to completion.


What happens if our homeowner association does not reach a quorum?

The answer will be found in your association's bylaws, election rules, and possibly in the CC&Rs. The answer will be found by the inspector of elections when he or she reviews your association governing documents. See: Adjournment of Meetings.


May I physically bring my completed ballot to the offices of HOA Inspector of Elections prior to the counting of the ballots?

Voters are required to deliver their ballots according to the written instructions delivered with the ballots.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections contract with the community association or the management company?

The contract is always between the inspector of elections, Michael Chulak, and the homeowner association. However, it is common for the management company to sign the agreement as agent of the association.


Why did the California Legislature create the current law for all secret ballot, two envelopes elections?

The rationale expressed by the legislature is that it had become very clear that some HOA boards, had improperly influenced the outcome of elections and that a system needed to be created to assure HOA members that their elections were being conducted fairly. While the system in place is not perfect and takes a great deal of time, it does work and associations are now assured of fair and accurate results.


I have been nominated to run for the board of directors of my HOA but have changed my mind, can I have my name removed from the ballot?

If the ballots have not been prepared and mailed the answer is yes. If the ballots have been prepared and mailed , your name will remain on the ballot. If that happens, you and/or the board should promptly notify the membership of your withdrawal. If you are still elected , your withdrawal will be considered a resignation from the board.


Our next election for directors is nearly one year away. Can we book you now for our election next year so we can reserve a specific date?

Absolutely. We have many HOA clients that book a date a year or longer in advance.


If the board of directors of an HOA elects a director to serve as an officer, can the director refuse to accept the position without resigning from the board?

Absolutely. The director continues to serve as a director. However, it is important to note that every corporation including homeowner associations, is required to have a President, Secretary, and Treasurer. A single director can be elected by the board to serve in more than one officer position.


Does HOA Inspector of Elections hold elections for Mutual Water Companies in California?



What can happen if the board of our community association refuses or fails to hold an election when the bylaws of the association require the election to be held?

If the election is simply delayed for a month or six weeks probably nothing will happen other than some owners will be displeased. On the other hand, if the board fails to schedule an election by the time the election was scheduled to be held pursuant to the bylaws, the board risks that one or more members may file suit against the association for failing to comply with its governing documents. This is likely to result in the existing board not being re-elected. The cost of defense may or may not be covered by insurance. Boards should avoid placing their associations in such a position.


What are the consequences of not holding a proper HOA election?

The results of an election can be challenged in court and it is possible for a court to require the holding of a new election under some circumstances. We are not aware of a successful challenge in situations where a homeowner association has hired a professional inspector of elections, but the risk of a challenge does exist. This is one of the reasons most homeowners do nor want to be appointed by their board to be the inspector of elections.


Are election rules required to be delivered with the secret ballots?

The election rules must be delivered with the secret ballots or posted on the association's website.


Our HOA will be voting to approve Restated CC&Rs and Bylaws very soon. When are the ballots mailed will you be mailing copies of the proposed documents to the members of our association?

Yes. In order for the Inspector of Elections to certify the election, the proposed documents to be voted upon need to be mailed with the ballots. Otherwise, there could be a dispute about which version of the documents were received and voted upon. This could result in a contested election.


The CC&Rs of our homeowner association expire very soon. Can our board extend the expiration date and, if so, how do we do it?

Yes. Please see: Voting to Extend Term of CC&Rs.


What should our new board do after we receive the Certification of Election from the Inspector of Election?

You should provide every member of the association with a copy of the Certification of Election within 15 days of the election and record the result in the minutes of the meeting. It is a good practice to attach a copy of the Certification to the minutes. The new board should also distribute a notice and agenda for a board meeting at which the new directors will elect officers. Four days notice must be given.


May we distribute your articles to others and add them to our website?

Yes, provided we are given credit for writing the article. Every one of our articles includes our identifying information at the bottom which must be included. There is no cost for using our articles.


Would you be able to serve as a provisional director for an HOA?

Yes, but I would not be able to serve as the inspector of elections if I was appointed by a court to be a provisional director. See: Appointment of a Provisional Director for an HOA.


Can Nominations be disqualified if the deadline for submitting nominations has passed?

Yes, unless the bylaws or election rules allow for an extension of time.


What can possibly happen if our homeowner association does not take and retain minutes of meetings?

First it is necessary to define the term meeting under California law. A meeting is a gathering of a quorum of directors at the same time and place to hear, discuss, or deliberate upon any item of business that is within the authority of the board. A meeting can be in person, by phone, or by zoom. The board shall not take action on any item of business outside of a board meeting. Minutes are the official records of the proceedings of an association's actions. Associations are obligated to keep minutes of board and membership meetings. This includes incorporated and unincorporated associations.

Minutes are required to be taken at board meetings, membership meetings, meetings of committees with decision making authority, executive committee meetings, and architectural committee meetings.

HOA boards must be aware of the following:

  • Banks require corporate resolutions to be reflected in board minutes to open new bank accounts;
  • Banks require corporate resolutions to be reflected in board minutes to change the persons authorized to sign on bank accounts;
  • The enforcement of operating rules requires that they be adopted in accordance with California law. This requires that the minutes of the association reflect that every step was followed:
  • Mortgage lenders may charge borrowers higher rates if they are not provided copies of minutes generally for a two year period;
  • Mortgage lenders may refuse to make loans secured by condominiums in associations that do not keep minutes of meetings;
  • The IRS and FTB require complete and accurate corporate minutes when they are auditing books and records of an association;
  • Any Certification of Election prepared by the Inspector of Elections is required to be incorporated into the minutes of the meeting held to count the ballots;
  • Certain actions of the board to collect delinquent assessments are required to be memorialized in board minutes. Failure to do so may provide a delinquent owner a defense to the association's collection action;
  • All members of an HOA are legally entitled to copies of all meeting minutes;
  • Disciplinary hearings are required to be held in an executive session of the board with certain information reflected in the minutes of the meeting;
  • The decision of the board to spend money, outside of budgeted items, must be voted upon and the vote reflected in the minutes of a meeting;
  • Any reimbursement made to a board member must be reflected in. the minutes of a board meeting;
  • Reports of dangerous conditions and the action the board intends to take to address the reported conditions must be reflected in the minutes in order to minimize liability. This also holds true for criminal activity;
  • Without minutes, creditors may take the position that certain debts are personal debts of board members and not the debts of the corporation;
  • The minutes should always reflect that a current financial report was generated, reviewed by the board, and approved; and
  • The minutes of prior board minutes must be approved, if acceptable.

There are other reasons to maintain corporate minutes, but boards must always keep in mind that they are required by law to be taken and maintained.