Improper HOA Election Behavior
Can your HOA or condo board endorse a slate of candidates? What about notifying owners of what board members believe are untrue claims by candidates? This week's tip provides a guide to appropriate board behavior during elections.
The Neutral Board
"Whom to elect is really up to the owners," says Robert Galvin, a partner at Davis, Malm & D'Agostine PC in Boston who specializes in representing condos and co-ops. "Boards shouldn't endorse candidates and shouldn't badmouth candidates."
Could you notify members if you believe a candidate is making false claims? "If somebody says something that's factually untrue, you could correct that," says Galvin. "But I wouldn't try to insert myself in the process and say, 'So-and-so is dishonest.' If a candidate says, 'We're spending too much on oil' when the building is heated by gas, you can correct that."
James Donnelly, president and CEO of Castle Group, a property management company in Plantation, Fla., that manages 55,000 association units, agrees. "You have to distinguish between the board and officers," he says. "It's the board's job to hold the annual meeting and election. Often there are directors on the board who are also running. The board should have no political role in the election. The directors are competing and should be able to say whatever they want within the law."
An endorsement seems harmless. Why not do it? "When the board is endorsing a candidate, it could be construed as very unfair," says Galvin. "I also wouldn't encourage candidates to run as a slate. Candidates should be treated as individuals. When boards run as a slate, the election tends to get too politicized and becomes like a red and blue state thing."
To learn more about what board members should and should not do around elections&mdash:and the consequences of missteps&mdash:read our new article: HOA Governance: Know Your Place During an Election.