Recently, a California court found that a HOA (also known as a homeowner’s association) has the authority to adopt election rules for the election of directors when the rule is reasonable and does not conflict with the HOA’s governing documents. This is an important decision that establishes how HOAs can govern elections. A copy of Friars Village Homeowners Association v. Hansing can be found here.
Charles Hansing (“Plaintiff”) sued his HOA, the Friars Village Homeowners Association (“Friars Village”) after he attempted to run for the board of directors of Friars Village. Friars Village is a HOA governed by the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act and operates under amended articles of incorporation and bylaws. The Friars Village Board of Directors (“HOA Board”) also adopted a rule that prohibited someone from running for a member on the HOA Board if they were related to a current director by blood or marriage, also known as the Relationship Rule by the Court. The Relationship Rule was not in the by laws or articles of incorporation.
Plaintiff challenged the rule because his wife was currently a member on the HOA Board. Plaintiff sued after the HOA Board denied him from running to be on the HOA Board. The trial court upheld Friar Village’s Relationship Rule, and Plaintiff appealed.
The Court found that the Relationship Rule was reasonable because it was based upon the HOA Board’s desire to prevent a voting bloc by having two members of the HOA Board from the same family. The Court also found that the Relationship Rule was consistent with Friar’s Village governing documents. The Court further rejected the proposition that the Relationship Rule prohibited the Plaintiff from nominating himself, which was allowed under Friar Village’s articles of incorporation and by laws.
Friars Village Homeowners Association establishes that a HOA can adopt its own election rules setting forth additional requirements or qualifications that are not stated in the HOA’s by laws or articles of incorporation as long as the rules are consistent with the HOA’s governing documents and are reasonable. Although the Court’s decision was based upon a review of the HOA’s governing documents and the specific election rule, other HOAs would be able to follow the Court’s reasoning in creating their own election rules.