Simple Rules of Order for Community Associations

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Parliamentary procedure is simple in principle, and valuable in practice. Rules of Order help guide a Board meeting, a Unit Owners meeting or any assembly. Fairly and properly utilized, the Rules of Order protect everyone’s rights.

In large or complex bodies, parliamentary procedure can be exceedingly complicated. In the most formal versions of the Rules of Order, there are layers upon layers of motions and it can take and advance degree to understand or administer them. In most community associations, the approach is more informal. Nevertheless, because a Board can only act through a motion (that is recorded in the Minutes), some form of Rules of Order remains valuable. These principles can keep the well-intentioned Board on a straight path.

  1. Basic Principles of Association Parliamentary Procedure:

1.1.     Only one subject may claim the attention of the assembly at one time.

1.2.     Each proposition presented for consideration is entitled to full and free debate.

1.3.     Every member’s rights are equal to every other member.

1.4.     The will of the majority must be carried out, and the rights of the minority must be preserved.

  1. Motions

2.1      The proper way for an individual to propose that the group take a certain action is by making one of the following motions:

2.1.1.  Main Motions are for bringing questions or propositions before the assembly for consideration. The assembly can consider only one main motion at a given time.

2.1.2.  Subsidiary Motions are for modifying or disposing of the main motion being considered. A subsidiary motion can be proposed while a main motion is before the assembly, and it is proper to vote upon a subsidiary motion before voting upon the main motion.


2.1.3.  Privileged Motions have no connection whatsoever with the main motion before the assembly, but are motions of such importance that they are entitled to immediate consideration. The main business before the house may be temporarily set aside to address a privileged motion.

2.1.4.  Incidental Motions arise “incidentally” out of the business of the assembly, and have very common characteristics.

  1. Motion Procedures

3.1.     The general procedure for the consideration of any motion shall be as follows:

3.1.1.  A member rises and addresses the presiding officer. The officer should be addressed as Mr. or Madame President or Mr. or Madame Chairman.

3.1.2. The member is recognized by the presiding officer. When a member has been recognized, the member is the only member entitled to present or discuss a motion.

3.1.3. The member proposes a motion. The motion should begin “I move that” followed by a statement of proposal. It is not permissible to discuss the merits of the motion either prior to or immediately following the formal proposal of the motion.

3.1.4. Another member seconds the motion. The member states: “I second the motion” If nobody seconds the motion, the presiding officer may ask: “Is there a second to the motion?” If there is none, he may declare: “The motion is lost for want of a second”

3.1.5. The Presiding officer states the motion to the assembly. When a motion has been properly proposed and seconded, the chairperson repeats the motion to the assembly. In may then be spoken of as a “question”, a “proposition”, or a “measure.”

3.1.6. The assembly discusses or debates the motion. To speak, a member must obtain the floor in the same manner as when presenting a motion.

  1.          The presiding officer should show preference to the proposer of the motion.
  2.          A member who has not spoken has prior claim over one who has already spoken.
  3.          The presiding officer should alternate between proponents and opponents of the motion.
  4.                      The presiding officer should recognize a member who seldom speaks in preference to one who frequently speaks.
  5.          Discussion is limited to the question that is before the assembly.

3.1.7.  The presiding officer takes the vote on the motion. Before taking the vote, the chairman ask, “Is there further discussion?” or “Are you ready for the question?” The chairman proceeds to take the vote by announcing: “All in favor of the motion (state the motion) say ‘aye’. The chairman then says “Those opposed say ‘No’.”

3.1.8. The presiding officer announces the results of the vote. The chairman announces the vote by saying: “The motion is carried; therefore (state the intent of the motion).” or if the vote is in the negative, the chairman states: “The motion is lost.”

3.1.9. Another motion is then in order.

3.2.     A Motion may be amended (a) by addition or insertion to add something to the motion that it did not contain, (b) by eliminating or striking out to subtract or eliminate something from the original motion, or (c) by substitution to eliminate something from the original motion and substitute something else in its place. An amendment may be hostile, but it must be germane. A hostile amendment is opposed to the spirit of the motion to which it is applied. To be germane, an amendment must have direct bearing on the subject of the motion to which it is applied. An amendment may nullify the original motion, but if it relates to the same subject matter, it is germane.

3.3.     An amendment to the motion shall be considered an amendment of the first rank and an amendment to an amendment shall be considered an amendment of the second rank. No amendment beyond the second rank is permitted. If it is desired to amend two separate and unrelated parts of a motion, it must be done with two separate amendments of the first rank. Until an amendment of the second rank is voted on no other amendment of the second rank is in order. Until the amendment of the first rank is voted upon, no other amendment of the first rank can be proposed.

3.4.     Amendments are voted upon in inverse order of proposal, i.e.:

3.4.1.  Discussion is held and the vote is taken upon the amendment to the amendment.

3.4.2.  Discussion is called for and the vote is taken upon the amendment to the motion.

3.4.3.  When the vote on the amendment has been taken, discussion on the motion as amended is opened and when that is completed, a vote is taken upon the motion as amended.

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