Condo Media - April 2018 - 56

The Region

RHODE ISLAND

Every Vote
Counts, Unless ...
How to Ensure Votes are Valid
[by Mary-Joy Howes, Esq.]

The association's governing documents provide the unit owner with
a certain number of votes, either
one per unit, or a specified number
calculated in accordance with the
percentage interest allocation. Most
boards and property managers are
aware that certain percentages or majorities of these votes are required to
properly conduct association business
for things such as amending the declaration and electing board members.
What most are not aware of is there are
procedures that must be followed to
ensure that those votes being cast are
valid. This is a very common problem
in associations. The Rhode Island
Condominium Act ("The Act") gives
explicit direction regarding voting and
there are almost always additional
requirements outlined in detail in the
governing documents for the condominium. The following are some of the
most common misconceptions and
assumptions.
DESIGNATED VOTERS
If there is more than one owner, any
owner can cast the vote, right? It is assumed that just because someone is an
owner, they can show up and vote. This
is, however, only the default rule found
in the Act, if the declaration does not
provide otherwise.
Pursuant to § 34-36.1-3.10(a)
of the Act:
If only one of the multiple owners of
a unit is present at a meeting of the
association, that person is entitled
to cast all the votes allocated to that
unit. If more than one of the multiple

56

CONDOMEDIA

owners are present, the votes
allocated to that unit may be
cast only in accordance with the
agreement of a majority in interest
of the multiple owners, unless the declaration expressly provides otherwise.
There is majority agreement if any one
of the multiple owners casts the votes
allocated to that unit without protest
being made promptly to the person
presiding over the meeting by any of the
other owners
of the unit.
Many condominium documents do,
however, provide specific direction
for units with multiple owners when
it comes to voting. Generally, association documents that cover this issue
will state that the unit owners must
formally designate, in writing, who
will be the voter for that particular
unit. This is often referred to as a
"designated voter form" and it must
be signed by all owners and filed with
the board. This would also apply to
units that are owned by a corporation.
Some documents also have special
rules governing the procedure when a
unit is owned by a husband and wife,
usually these requirements allow the
husband or the wife to cast the vote.
The important takeaway here is to not
assume, and to always check the documents and to keep an accurate and
updated roster of members.
ABSENTEE VOTERS
If an owner can't make the meeting, someone can be sent to vote in
their place, right? Another common
misconception is that owners can just
"send someone" to vote for them.

Pursuant to § 34-36.1-3.10(b)
of the Act:
Votes allocated to a unit may be cast pursuant to a proxy duly executed by a unit
owner. If a unit is owned by more than one
person, each owner of the unit may vote
or register protest to the casting of votes
by the other owners of the unit through
a duly executed proxy. A unit owner may
not revoke a proxy given pursuant to this
section except by actual notice of revocation to the person presiding over a meeting of the association. A proxy is void if it
is not dated or purports to be revocable
without notice. A proxy terminates one
year after its date, unless it specifies a
shorter term.
Based on the foregoing, for someone
other than a unit owner to cast the vote
for that particular unit, a proxy must
be given by the unit owner who wishes
to assign the right to vote. While the
terms of the Act must be complied with
as to proxies, the specific association
documents almost always speak to the
appropriate form of the proxy required
and who can hold a proxy. Many times,
a unit owner may only give proxy to another unit owner. The governing documents often impose additional requirements and specifications such as that
the proxy is only valid for the meeting
for which it is given, or for some other
time period, and that the proxy must
be filed with the board within a certain
period of time prior to the meeting for
which it is being issued.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - April 2018

Contents
Condo Media - April 2018 - BB1
Condo Media - April 2018 - BB2
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover1
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover2
Condo Media - April 2018 - Contents
Condo Media - April 2018 - 2
Condo Media - April 2018 - 3
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Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover3
Condo Media - April 2018 - Cover4
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