Navigating HOA Elections in California: A Guide for Homeowners

HOA Elections are a complicated and confusing arena for homeowners to navigate. HOA elections are governed by multiple sets of rules and regulations, some of which are regularly changed or updated by the California legislature. The rules and regulations include the Davis-Stirling Act, the California Corporations Code and the Association’s own governing documents, which include Bylaws, CC&Rs and Election Rules.

How to make sense of it all?

The good news is that there are ways homeowners can educate themselves about the HOA election process.

First, look at the dates your HOA Bylaws and Election Rules were adopted. The California legislature made a number of changes to the HOA election process in recent years, so older Bylaws and Election Rules are more likely to include sections that are out of date or in conflict with current regulations. If your HOA governing documents were adopted or amended in 2022 or sooner, they are likely to be current and compliant with current regulations. If they are older, they may contain provisions that are no longer consistent with current regulations.

Second, read California Civil Code §§ 5100-5200. These sections are known as the “Davis-Stirling Act” and they contain the rules governing HOA elections in California. It may seem daunting at first to read legislation directly, but the language of these regulations are actually pretty clear and easy to understand. We refer to them all the time.

Third, if there are conflicts between your HOA governing documents and the regulations, apply the hierarchy of documents, which is laid out in Civil Code § 4205:

  1. (a) To the extent of any conflict between the governing documents and the law, the law shall prevail.
  2. (b) To the extent of any conflict between the articles of incorporation and the declaration [i.e. CC&Rs], the declaration shall prevail.
  3. (c) To the extent of any conflict between the bylaws and the articles of incorporation or declaration [i.e. CC&Rs], the articles of incorporation or declaration shall prevail.
  4. (d) To the extent of any conflict between the operating rules and the bylaws, articles of incorporation, or declaration, the bylaws, articles of incorporation, or declaration shall prevail.

Fourth, ask for help! Experts such as Pro Elections are usually happy to answer calls and emails from homeowners with questions. It’s what we do all day long as California HOA election experts, so we are happy to share our knowledge.