A term limit is a restriction on the number of terms a person can serve as a board member. Term limits, if any, are normally found in the bylaws. If properly drafted, term limits can be positive.
No Term Limits. If there are no term limits in an association's governing documents, directors can be elected and re-elected to the board until they cease to be qualified to serve on the board.
Strict Limits. Strict term limits that allow owners to serve one or two terms and then forever bars them from the board are unworkable. It is much too difficult to recruit members to serve on the board. Also, what happens when everyone in the association has served on the board? Accordingly, strict limits should NOT be adopted.
Flexible Limits. A more common term limit is one that allows directors to serve two terms and then requires them to step down for a year. This allows other owners the opportunity to serve on the board without permanently barring seasoned directors from serving at a later date. Even this kind of limitation can be problematic if no other owners are willing to serve on the board. To avoid this problem, term limitations should only take effect if there are people willing to run for the board.
Bylaw Amendment. Term limits can be added by means of a bylaw amendment and then revising the election rules. It is unclear, but it may be possible to impose term limits by amending the election rules without the need of amending the bylaws.
NOTE: Beginning January 1, 2020, Senate Bill 323, sponsored by Marjorie Murray's Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL) made extensive changes to election procedures. One of the many errors in their bill voided term limits adopted by associations. This was corrected in 2021 when the Legislature amended Civil Code §5100 to allow associations to adopt term limits for directors.
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