Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 122 May 2006
Dear Parliamentarian Vol. 122 May 2006
Answers to your Parliamentary Questions
"Dear Parliamentarian" is written by the author of Parliamentary Procedures Made Simple: The Basics, an 80 minute video that tells how to have better meetings.
I found your web page to be very interesting. I live in the state of Texas and my homeowner's association has just put a 55,000 assessment and judgment against my property for work done on the town homes many years before I moved in. The former owner knew this assessment was going to be made 3 years prior to my buying from him as did the association.
Two years after my purchase, I get the demand letter. Of course this has been in litigation now for over 4 years and my resources are depleted.
Their story is that I was a "slick" investor and knew that the property would substantially increase in value in a few years. And, because I was leasing six months prior to buying, that I should have known all of this. I did not even live in this city at that time.
I have several questions. After all of this litigation, I have just found out from my attorney that I am NOT suing for any type of damages (he says the law does not allow for associations to be sued), only to defend my title. The association DOES have a "Board of Directors" insurance policy. And, he says that their in no "amendment" of any kind that can be filed.
2nd. My attorney WILL NOT make a claim on my title policy because he says that this is not covered.
I realize that I now have issues not only with the Association, but my attorney as well.
Q. Can a homeowner's association put assessments on my home for work previously done, long before I lived here?
I filed suit against the former owner which the judge granted them a "summary judgment". And the judge let my suit against the association stand.
Q. Is there any way that I can collect any type of damages if I win before a jury? My attorney says that I cannot.
Please help me if you can. I will anxiously await your reply.
We are not attorneys here. But in most states sellers are to disclose all information when selling the property. What was the summary judgment of the judge? Perhaps you need to get a new attorney. I will say this that the liens go with the property. I am surprised it did not show up on the title search. I am sorry I can't be of more help. This shows that when buying property in an HOA one should contact the association to see what is going on with the property.
Kelly Clark wrote:
I am the Secretary of the Rocky Point Athletic Booster Club. We have approximately 25 active members who attend our board meetings on a regular basis. We have a question that needs clarification. I hope that you can answer it for us.
An officer of our local Athletic Booster Club has continually disobeyed the Board of Directors. She continually does whatever she wants. She openly insults other members, accuses other members of taking money without cause, sends out correspondence without approval and attacks other members on how they vote. She is openly hostile and confrontational if she does not get her way. She has been formally warned that her behavior is unacceptable no less than six (6) times. She is about to be removed from office for remainder of the club’s year (which ends August 31). However, elections for the upcoming September office were held last month. She was again elected into office. Since that time, it has come to the Board’s attention that she organized members is the room to vote according to her preference, not their own. She openly attacked members afterwards who did not vote the way she wanted. Does the current Board have the right to remove her from the upcoming year’s Board?
Your help on this matter would be invaluable. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Kelly A. Clark
You certainly have an usual problem and unfortunately in Athletic Booster Clubs there are frequent conflicts like this. I am surprised that she would still be eligible to be considered again for office. It looks like you need to address this in your bylaws. At this time you can't remove her from the upcoming board because she has not begun to serve. If you prevented her from serving you would be nullifying an election by the members and that would be in violation of your governing documents. If she is causing this much problem, have you considered removing her from membership? Has the board had a meeting with her to resolve whatever conflict is going on between this member and the board?
Thank you for your response. We have indeed met several times this year to
try to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, the officer in question refuses
to believe she has done anything wrong. We have now removed her from
office. However, the room is split almost completely down the middle with
those for and against her; and we would not be able to obtain the two-thirds
vote to remove her from the club. As it is, she is seeking to sue the club
for her removal and those officers who brought it about. She has spread the
contents of the executive meeting all over town in hopes of gaining addition
support from uniformed people and to mar the current officers. Her behavior
will only continue to drive a wedge between the members and cause good
people to leave. In the end only the children will be hurt and that is
something I am unwilling to allow. I am given the responsibility of trying
to bring this matter to some sort of conclusion that everyone can live with.
I thank you again for your help and once the new board meets in the end of
June we will discuss her removal for the next year. You website has been an
great tool. Which I am sure I will refer to often. Thanks again.
Have you thought about having someone "neutral" do conflict resolution so that peace can restored to your organization?
This is certainly gone beyond parliamentary procedure. You need a peace maker! By the way I have learned about a group founded on Biblical principles that there entire purpose is peacemaking and solving these kind of problems. I was introduced to this organization at a seminar that I took last fall with other parliamentarians. I was surprised that it was brought up in this context, but we were talking about parliamentary in church meetings. So in that context it was appropriate. If you would like to know more about this organization, I can tell you there web site. Best wishes to you all.
DUFF GUILLOTTE wrote:
I find your sight very interesting as I am in the middle of the formation of a new HOA.
we are a PUD of approximately 58 single family homes located in Spokane, WA. There is a common area and we currently pay $240.00 a year per owner to the PUD Association being administered by the Declarant. Every owner who purchased a home knew hat it was a part of an HOA and that there was a common area I.e. the PUD was in place from the beginning of the planning for this development and lots were sold accordingly.
The last house to be built and sold is under construction now. The Declarant has asked that we obtain signatures from 100% of the owners (or a strong majority) declaring their approval of those who have volunteered to form a board and elect the officers (Pres., Vice Pres., secretary and treasurer) in order that there can be a transfer from the Declarant to the HOA. We have never been able to get 100% of the owners to sign anything.
Three weeks ago we ( a small group of about eight home owners) placed a notice of meeting on every door in the PUD announcing a meeting to be held and inviting everyone who could to attend. We mentioned we would be forming a board and electing officers per the CCR. However we did not have with us any of the Bylaws. What we had was the CCR and the idea that we could form a board out of those attending the meeting and then nominate and elect the officers. We thought we could then supply the Declarant the signatures gathered at that meeting along with the minutes and then meet with the D. to have the records etc. transferred.
But I have heard from the D. that they want a strong majority of the owners(100%) signed on . So I have the idea that we should go door to door again when people are home and show them that we met and formed a board and elected officers and ask if they will sign on to this start. The secretary of the D. has told me that 75% might satisfy the D.
AS you can probably tell, there seems to be a disconnect in trying to get this PUD into our own hands. We have a CCR and the D.'s secretary said she will mail me the bylaws if she can locate them. I thought we could create our own after the Pud was in our hands.
Can you help me sort this out. We simply want to get the PUD into our hands. Do we need to have all of the owners electing a board and officers?
I'm not even sure of what questions to ask. Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Duff G.
Dear Duff G,
Thank you for writing. We just participated in a process where the developer turned the association over to the members. It's too bad that developers don't see that far ahead to have a procedure in hand. In our association the Articles of Incorporation had the procedure and time at which everything was turned over to the owners. There was also information in the bylaws. The proper procedure is to call a meeting giving notice according to the bylaws or the state codes concerning this. The quorum is set either in the bylaws or the article of incorporation. The attorney who drew up our developer's documents had the quorum in both the articles of incorporation and bylaws which turned out to be a blessing to us because he set the quorum number too high and we were able to fix it by the developer amending the articles of incorporation. Our documents also required that we elect a temporary board until our annual meeting that is determined in the bylaws. You will never get a hundred percent to agree to anything. Most developers don't know what they are doing. You need to work with their attorney who may understand the correct procedure. The attorney for our development had set the quorum at two thirds of the members. That is impossible to attain. As a registered parliamentarian, I wrote a letter to him and explained that 25% was sufficient and perhaps high but the lot owners wanted that number. Because the developer could amend the article of incorporation we were able to have a meeting and elect a temporary board. Before you do anything more, you need to get all the documents, thoroughly read them and be fully informed before you do anything. The developer wanting a 100% may be confusing changing covenants with turning over the association. If your members need some help let us know, but we would charge a fee for helping you straighten this out.
The Parliamentarian McConnell, RP
We are a small church and wonder who gets to name a new Standing
Committee. Our Bylaws do not state but do say that the Board will
determine the responsibilities of Standing Committees and it also says
that the Congregation will hear reports of all Standing Committees at our
Annual Meeting and Act on those reports. Nowhere does it tell us who is
able to name a new Standing Committee -- is it the Congregation or the
Board of Trustees?
Who appoints the members to your standing committees right now? If it is the board of trustees, then they would also appoint the members of this committee. Usually boards appoint the members of such committees.
Thanks so much for responding. Right now our Chairs enlist their own
members of their committees. What I was more interested in is who
creates a new standing committee -- if it doesn't say in the bylaws would
it be the Board of Trustees or the entire congregation? We want to
create two new standing committees: Newsletter and Website.
We really want to do this correctly. In the past I believe that the
Board has created standing committees. But now we're not so sure that it
should be the Board's prerogative.
I appreciate your help.
I am sorry that I did not understand your first question. Usually standing committees are written in the bylaws under an article entitled "Committees." Each committee should be stated and the purpose of the committee and its duties (not administrative duties). You might want to see our Web Site parli.com Go to the link that says "bylaws." It will give an example there. So if your bylaws are written correctly, and you actually have an article entitle "committees," then you will need to amend your bylaws and add these two committees to it. If you don't have an article in your bylaws on committees, then the members must vote for these committees. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, page 473, states, "by a resolution which is in effect a special rule of order and therefore requires notice and a two-thirds vote for adoption."
The Parliamentarian....just what we needed to know. Thanks so very much. You've
clarified a lot of things for us. We'll get busy now and straighten
things out as far as our bylaws go.
If a vote is taken by the members to change a rule that was established during the year does the rule stand through the coming years unless it is changed by another vote of the membership. I have a meeting on Wednesday May 17 and would like the answer before 12:00 Mountain time if possible.
Thanks very much
Yes, any thing that is adopted continues until it is reversed or changed by the membership. Some rules only take a majority vote to change. If this is a rule of order which has to do with parliamentary rules,( election rules, rules of debate) it must have previous notice and takes a two thirds vote to adopt. If it is an administrative rule,(like everyone must wear name tags at meetings), it only takes a majority vote to adopt, if previous notice has been given. If no previous notice has been given, it will take either a two-thirds vote or a majority of the entire membership.
Hershel Donaldson wrote:
How many times should a constitution and by-laws be read before being adopted?
This is for a church.
If more then one can the second and third reading only address the changes?
You need to follow the provisions in your bylaws that apply to amending them. Normally there are not several readings of bylaw amendments before adoption. If you go to our Web Site<parli.com> you will find a link on the blue side bars entitled 'bylaws". These articles will tell you the process of how to handled amendments and revisions of bylaws. There is an article entitled "amending bylaws". This idea of "second and third" readings comes from public bodies such as city councils, but it is not done is organizations or churches.
If the nominating committee presents a slate which includes persons who are not eligible to run for office; one is term limited and the other has not been on the board sufficient time, according to the by laws, what are our options?
Can we accept nominations from the floor for those positions?
Do we have to delay the election and send the committee back or is their task finished and we move on?
Is it ok to disband the nominating committee and not accept their report for making an illegal recommendation?
What do your bylaws say about this matter? Do you ever have nominations from the floor? We need to know what your bylaws say before we can give an accurate answer.
Linda Guy wrote:
The bylaws says that people can only serve for two terms.
The bylaws allow for nominations from the floor.
Thank you for writing back. This is how to solve your problem.
1. When the nominating committee gives its report, if you are not the presiding officer, rise and make a point of order, by saying, Mr.(or Madam President) I rise to a point of order," If the president knows how to respond, the president will reply, "Please state your point." Then you can reply, "Nominees A and B are not eligible to serve because the bylaws say .... Therefore they don't meet the eligibility requirements and should be removed from nomination." Hopefully that will take care of that.
2, Your bylaws say that you can have nominations from the floor. So the president should open the floor to nominations and read the the eligibility requirements. Anyone nominated should meet these requirements and be willing to serve if elected. So people need to come to the meeting prepare to nominated someone for these positions and have gotten assurance that their nominee is willing to serve.
3. If you can get people to step up to the plate at the meeting, I would not recommend delaying the election. You need to see what you bylaws state about when the people take office. If it isn't for a while, then you might be able to postpone the election and request that the nominating committee meet and find nominees that meet the requirements. If the committee doesn't want to co-operate then it might be wise to appoint others to the committee.
It sounds to me that the nominating committee wasn't informed about the eligibility requirements or didn't know how to approach selecting nominees. I would give them the benefit of the doubt. Another way to help resolve this situation is to resolve it before the meeting. If the committee knows that some of their nominees can't serve if elected, they could meet and come up with new nominees who do qualify that would solve your problems.
I am a new HOA president of a 1200 home community.
Any information would be welcomed and appreciated.
Thank you ~
I loved your blog
What would like to know? How to conduct a meeting? It looks like by
the size of your organization you will need to be on your toes. :-)
Hi there ~
How to conduct a meeting. I bought Rogers Rules of Order.. and then called an Orientation with my board members to discuss proper protocol... so it helped a little, but still not smooth
We have some feisty residents that like to talk out of order, (one of them a board members wife) so I try to say, I am going to stop you there and have you save your comments for the public open forum.....
Our first meeting (before the orientation) was a disaster, people getting upset about violations, weeds, etc.. and NO Order
Our second meeting I made an announcement to the public and reminded them that this is a board meeting and public comment & questions should be headed until they are inviting prior to a vote and/or until the end of the meeting for public open forum and then we have a 3 min time limit due to the ## of people, By the second meeting I had held the board orientation and asked the board to support me when I stopped public interruption out of turn, and asked them to have no side bars, etc... and we went to a timed agenda. ( board members wife STILL speaks out of turn)
SO I am hoping our third meeting will be even better... we'll see.
It is hard with the residents. Your not going to make all of the people happy.... and people are upset that they get a violation because of weeds, but then in the same breath complain about the empty investor homes that are in total disarray and why are we not doing anything about it???
The people HATE the management company and if we don't make changes soon, they will stop hating and blaming them and start blaming us.. : )
So, we are in turmoil over here...
I have done a lot of good, but the public doesn't know of all the private battles I fight ( with the builder, the management company)
I also got us a $27,000 grant from the developer to replace plants and got the Landscape Co. to gift us the rest of what we needed, which is AWESOME...
but when I walk out of my home, I get stopped by irate resident about silly things
"" Why do I have to submit for a screen door, I'm an adult I know to paint it the same color as the house, you don't need to tell me...""
How do we get rid of the management company...... They write too many violations.... and the community still looks sub par (because of all of the empty investor homes, which I am trying to have the builder take responsibility for since the investors have ignored our violations)
People just bitching and complaining. I give my speech.... about the CC&R’s are there to help to maintain the integrity of our community and submittals are to help with consistency and uniformity of the scape ( and I try to be humorous and say this will ensure you don't wake up to a bright purple screen door on your neighbors house) or explain, just because leaving your trashcan out doesn't bother you , it may drive your neighbor crazy.... and your neighbor may think a bright purple door and orange house is beautiful and you would be embarrassed to have company over if he did that, so the CC&R’s are there to protect and serve everyone.... and were there when you purchase your home... BUT it doesn't help. People are always on the defensive about their castle... YET want everyone else to clean up their yards... ARRRggghhhh
I work a full time job, I already feel like the Pres position is a second full time job ( calling the city for code violations, call the principal to decrease damage to property from bus stop, working to get grants/gifts) It is never ending, yet the resident all complain and I seriously feel like I want to throw in the towel.....
Help : )
Any, all pointers, speeches, comments, suggestions, tips, PC ways to tell people to grow up : ) are appreciated...
I want to do well and serve my community and I am about ready to get burnt out
Thank you !!!!!!!!!!
If you go to our Web Site, parli.com, you will find a lot of helpful information about how to conduct meetings and stream line them. We also have books and videos/DVD's in book store that can help you. We have one product entitled "handling the unruly members.' It can be also bought with "how to conduct a meeting." As president I would know my governing documents inside and out. I would also be well grounded in conducting meetings. And finally i people skills. A lot of problems in HOA can be solved in officers remembered these things.
1. People don't like being told what to do when it concerns their property
2. People buy a house not an HOA
3. People don't understand CC&R's or even care about them
4. People don't read their governing documents or even understand how an HOA is helpful
5. People believe they are king of their castle.
6. People don't care or even know about self-government nor do they want to participate in it
and those that do want to participate in it usually want to be dictators.
Now armed with that information, let me give you some ideas.
1. Since you are a large association, I would form a welcoming committee. When someone new buys into the association, the committee greets the new people with a small present (perhaps a plant) or some cookies. They have in booklet with all the documents and rules of the HOA. This booklet should include the names and numbers of the board. Another nice thing that you could do is have a list for new people to the community, who are not familiar with the community, of hair dressers, car repair people, yard care, handy men, furnace and air conditioner, plumbers, electricians, service people that we all need to know about. Then briefly go over with them about meetings and what is expected of them as members of the HOA and what benefits they receive from being in an HOA. I really think if this were done a lot of problems could be headed off at the pass and HOA's would see a lot more interest and co-operation in their associations.
2. It sounds like you are doing a good job with meetings. The videos that I mentioned might help the board members, but as president you are responsible for enforcing meeting rules and keeping order. This is what I would recommend. That you send out a newsletter telling all the good things that you have accomplished as a board. Then let them also know what is required of the members when attending a board meeting. Also let them know the rules of discussion during open forum and if members continue to disrupt the board during its meeting the member will be removed from the meeting. Then enforce it. We must insist on order and respect.
3. Perhaps more association meetings are needed for the members to make motions and conduct business. We are doing more of that here. This is a good way for members to learn to govern themselves.
4. Handling the management company. Look at the contract that you have with them. See how you can get out of it. But first I would meet with them and tell them what you don't like that they are doing. Put in writing what you want them to do and not do. You are the customer and they represent you not themselves. Let them know that if they don't comply you will be finding a way to get out of the contract and find someone else. Be firm but kind.
5. Finally, in another letter to the members take the most frequent questions that you are asked and answer them in a newsletter. Then put this in your welcoming package. That will solve a lot of problems.
Finally, I think if you explain to the owners that all you are doing is upholding the CC&R's which state that certain things must be done. The homeowners have two choice either to change the covenant which is hard to do or sell their home and find an association that they feel is less restrictive. But for know they are expected to comply with all the CC &R's. They should have asked to read these before they bought. Ignorance is no excuse.
Hope this helps.