HOA victory – the power of one person

Colorful exploding party popper

Victory party popper. © DepositPhotos.com

“On the honor system”

In the May newsletter I wrote about a president who declined to provide financial information to his HOA board of directors. He used the phrase “on the honor system.” When my friend, a board director, insisted on seeing details before approving checks, the president and board resisted, finally voting her off the board on the grounds that she was impeding the work of the association.

No right to remove a board director

The board had no right to remove her (see our article here). And of course board directors MUST see financials if they are to fulfill their duty of care. In Washington state all homeowners have the right to see all the documents of an HOA (read RCW 64.38.045). My friend publicized the matter on neighborhood social media and invited people to come to the annual membership meeting and run for director themselves.

The Annual Meeting was rowdy

I boldly accompanied her to the meeting. After the meeting was called to order, she raised her hand and moved to have me attend the meeting as a consultant. The president briskly said, “Motion denied.” But she persisted, along with others, and the members voted loudly for me to remain. I was able to help with procedure in a pretty raucous meeting. At the meeting, the board provided more financial information than had ever before been made available. Best of all, four new people were elected to the board of directors.

Just speak up!

Sometimes people want to make a change, but are hesitant to speak up. They say something like “I suggest that…” or “I would like to…” The fact is that a member has a right to make a motion, and should just use the standard jargon, “I MOVE THAT…” This is powerful! The president or chair cannot “deny a motion.” Read our article Making a motion is a power move. The group is the final authority.

The power of one person

I’m very proud of my friend, though sorry for the emotional wear-and-tear that she had to go through. I hope that you readers, if confronted with secretive and controlling leadership, will muster allies and take steps to uphold the democratic process. One person can make a huge difference.


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Ann Macfarlane

Ann G. Macfarlane is a Professional Registered Parliamentarian. She offers an interactive and user-friendly way to master the key points for effective, efficient and fair meetings. Her background as a diplomat and Russian translator enables her to connect with elected officials and nonprofit board directors and give them the tools they need for success. She is the author of Mastering Council Meetings: A guidebook for elected officials and local governments.

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