A motion to exclude renters from service on committees of the Seven Lakes Landowners Association [SLLA] is on the agenda for the Association's Thursday, May 28 Open Meeting.
President Chuck Leach, introducing the motion, said the question of whether tenants can serve on committee arose during the last Board's term.
Leach said the Association has benefitted from the "advice knowledge, and expertise of some of our long-term renters."
He added that he personally believes long term renters in good standing should be able to serve on any committee, though they should serve in a non-voting capacity only on the Finance, Judicial, and Architectural Review Committees.
Leach said a question had also arisen about the eligibility of a spouse to serve on an SLLA committee when they are not listed on the deed of the property.
To clear up that question, SLLA attorney Roger Knight was consulted.
Knight, who provided his answer in an email to Community Manager Ray Sohl, said if property was acquired by a married couple but only one was listed on the deed, the unlisted spouse was nonetheless a co-owner under North Carolina law, and therefore a member of the Association, and able to serve on Committees.
If the property was acquired by one spouse before the marriage, however, the deed must be altered to include the unlisted spouse in order for him or her to be a member of the Association.
Where tenants are concerned, Knight said the Association could create a tenants' committee or create non-voting tenants' seats on other committees.
However, he wrote, "Tenants are not owners and are therefor not by definition members of the Association and cannot vote in elections or serve on committees."
Knight provided no further explanation of that opinion referencing state law or SLLA legal documents.
According to Leach, Knight said that some Association decisions had been overturned in court because tenants had voted on them.
"I just don't understand giving up talent because someone is not a homeowner," resident Bob Miller said.
"I think it is a shame that the expertise is not accepted," Director Joy Smith said. "I would like the expertise."
"I don't think it matters what any of us think," Leach said. "Now we have a ruling from an attorney."
Although Knight had suggested the options of establishing a non-voting seat for tenants on any committee, Leach made a motion to forward to the Open Meeting a policy to exclude renters from all SLLA Committees, "based on the legal opinion provided."
Director Sandy Sackmann seconded the motion, which passed four-to-three with Smith and Director Mary Farley opposed and Director Mark Gyure abstaining.