Re: Consensus and voting bylaws
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 09:11:02 -0800 (PST)
On Jan 9, 2013, at 7:07 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:

> I don't know your jurisdiction, but your state likely has enabling 
> legislation for condos or HOAs, and this legislation probably spells out 
> strict notice and voting rules for certain decisions, like Board elections or 
> special assessments.  To stay legal, you should comply with BOTH state regs 
> AND your own consensus practices 

Agreeing with Philip, and adding: Legislation for condos in DC does not say 
they have to actually take a vote. It only states the minimum number of votes 
necessary to make certain decisions--sometimes 51% and sometimes 75%. 

Consensus represents a 100%  positive majority vote which is recorded in 
minutes from organizations using parliamentary procedure as a unanimous vote. I 
doubt if it is necessary to state this equivalency in your bylaws but there it 

Another helpful thing our lawyer told us about the board dominance specified in 
condo legislation is that the Board can always delegate authority for 
decisions. The thing it cannot absolve itself of is the responsibility for the 
decision. This means if the membership makes a decision that affects the 
standing of the homeowner's association, the board is still responsible for 
that decision. 

This is good because the Board can be inexpensively insured against bad 
decisions made in good faith so Board members cannot be financially endangered 

So when our membership makes a decision, the Board at the next meeting 
"ratifies" that decision. It assures the powers that be that the decision was 
properly and legally made and the Board stands behind it. (I doubt if "stands 
behind it" is legalese but Phillip would know the correct terminology.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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