California’s HOA Election Laws Could Be Coming to Utah

Jan 22, 2022

Have you ever wondered exactly how an HOA election process takes place? Who administers the election? Who decides who is eligible to be voted into a board position? How reliable is the election process and is there any bias? These questions and several others are why the State of California implemented a new law requiring all elections be managed by a third party service. This new law, known as the Davis-Stirling Act, has provided benefits to homeowners in California and some say it could be coming to Utah.

What is an HOA Election?

When you and your family move into a community that is overseen by an HOA board, the members of the board are voted into their positions. These positions include a secretary, a president and other roles depending on the community size and location. More importantly, these board members dictate what happens with the residents’ monthly HOA dues. They choose services, hire maintenance workers and landscapers to ensure the community is well-kept.

Each year, HOA communities hold an election to nominate new individuals to these coveted positions. This process allows homeowners in the community to voice their opinions by way of election and make changes to their community.

What is the Problem with HOA Elections?

In many states, including Utah, there is no process to over see the election and validate its results. The election can still take place, but it’s often riddled with bias – bias toward certain neighbors, friends or even family members. Without a 3rd party official to oversee the election, there’s a greater chance that the people voted into the board might not be the best fit for the job. Instead, they are someone’s close friend or family member. This, in turn, causes favoritism and may allow for HOA funds to be mismanaged over time.

California Introduces the Davis-Stirling Act

To mitigate bias in the HOA election process, the State of California introduced a new law thatĀ requires all HOA elections to be administered by a 3rd party individual. These individuals, commonly called HOA election inspectors, provide everything the election process needs – notifications to the residents about an upcoming election, distribution of election materials, collection of ballots, tallying up of votes, the announcement of elected officials and they are responsible for any questions about the process.

How Does a Community Choose An Election Inspector?

While every community is different, there are a few rules HOAs need to follow when choosing a 3rd party inspector.

First, the 3rd party individual may not belong to the community. This reduces chances of bias in the entire process and makes for a fairĀ election for the community’s residents. Next, the individual must be licensed by the California Board of Accountancy (CBA). This is, of course, for the State of California only, but we can reasonably imaging licensing is required for any inspector in other states. The HOA election inspector may also be a notary-public. While this is not strictly required, it is encouraged.

When Will Utah Adopt this Law?

Utah’s current HOA election laws are up in the air. However, based on the success of this new voting law in California, we can expect Utah (and other states) to implement changes in the next 10 years. The requirement of a 3rd party individual to oversee the process creates a better experience for the election and for the residents of the community.

If you reside in an HOA-ran community, be sure to ask your current board officials any questions you may have about the election process.