Can Investors Vote in Condo Elections?

September 25, 2023

Investing in a condominium is not just about owning property. It also involves a stake in the decision-making processes and governance of the homeowner association. Condo board elections are an essential aspect of condominium living. They are opportunities for unit owners to come together to shape their condo association's policies and management. 

One common question we often get asked is whether investors who own condo units, but don’t reside in them, can vote in these crucial elections. In this post, we’ll explore the rules regarding investor voting rights in condo elections, along with relevant legal regulations and common practices employed by condominium associations. 

What Are Condo Elections?

Condo elections are a democratic process through which the unit owners that belong to the condominium association select representatives who make decisions regarding its management and administration. They are also used as a means of having owners weigh in on important issues affecting their community. 

The right to vote in a condo election is an important aspect of condo ownership because it ensures owners get a say in the governance of their investments. Condo elections have many different purposes, such as selecting a board of directors or trustees, amending bylaws, approving budgets, etc. 

Investors Versus Residents–Who Can Vote?

In most condo elections, investors who legally own units have the same voting rights as resident owners, whether they reside in these units or not. 

However, the rules differ depending on local jurisdictions and condominium associations. While some extend the rights to all investors and resident owners, others limit voting for unit owners who own them purely as investments.

Legal Framework for Voting Rights

The rules regarding investor voting in condo elections are primarily governed by the condominium association’s governing documents and local and state laws.

Condo associations are commonly structured as nonprofit corporations, and their bylaws usually outline the rules and regulations concerning voting rights. These may explicitly state that all unit owners, regardless of their occupancy status, have the right to vote in elections. 

However, it’s important to remember that the legal landscape around condominium ownership varies from state to state. Unit owners and investors should refer to the state’s condominium laws to understand their specific rights and responsibilities regarding condo elections. 

Common Requirements in Condominium Associations

Most condominium associations have inclusive policies that permit all unit owners, including investors, to vote in their elections. This is preferred because it helps ensure that all stakeholders in the community have an equal voice in its management.

By allowing investors to vote, the association also promotes an environment where critical decisions receive input from a diverse group of owners. 

However, it’s important to note that not all condominium associations adhere to such an inclusive voting policy. Some associations implement more restrictive voting policies, only allowing investors to vote if they meet specific requirements. These can be: 

  • Residency requirements: Condominium associations may have residency requirements outlined in their governing documents. These requirements may state that only owners who use their condominium units as their primary residences have full voting rights. Investors who do not reside in their units may have limited voting rights or may not be eligible to vote in certain elections.
  • Ownership duration: In some cases, condominium associations may impose ownership duration requirements for voting rights. For example, they may require that an investor own their unit for twelve months or more before becoming eligible to vote in condo elections. This measure is sometimes implemented to prevent certain investors from influencing elections shortly after purchasing units.
  • Good standing with the association: Condominium associations often require that unit owners, including investors, are in good standing with the association to exercise their voting rights. Being in good standing typically means that an owner is up-to-date on their condo fees, assessments, and any other financial obligations to the association. Owners in arrears may have their voting rights temporarily suspended until their account is made current.
  • Type of election: The type of election being conducted may also influence voting rights. Some associations differentiate between various types of elections, such as elections for the board of directors, budget approvals, and bylaw amendments. Voting rights may differ for each type of election, and some associations may have more stringent requirements for certain decisions.

These restrictions are typically detailed in the association’s governing documents, such as the bylaws or declarations of the condominium. 

Online Condo Elections

If your condo board elections are just around the corner, consider offering an online voting option. This will allow all residents and investors to participate in the elections, including those who otherwise would not be able to get to a physical polling station during the designated time frame.

ElectionBuddy will help support you at every step to ensure your association takes full advantage of the cost savings and high data security that online elections offer. For more helpful information, don’t miss our blog post on whether voting results for a condo have to be posted!

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