Q: We live in 100 unit condo. At least two of the condo board members live close to us. Since moving here about three years ago we have witnessed these board members, the president, the secretary, regularly reprimand other residents about different issues. For example: the president knocked on my neighbors door telling her she was not allowed to have her dog, and that she would have to get rid of it. Another time, and this has happened often, she will tell residents where they can/cannot park, leave notes on their cars, etc. Now, these parking spots are not for reserved residents, but visitors parking spaces that are supposed to be for anyone. She also told a neighbor that their window shades needed to be replaced as they did not look good. Granted, they did not, as they have a cat and it looked like the cat may used them for entertainment. What I find especially sad is the president does not handle these complaints in a professional manner. She shares her complaints with other residents…I’ve had people in other buildings call me to inquire about some of these issues. This does not concern me. It is not my business! I hate that she gets other people involved resulting in a lot of unnecessary conflict and hard feelings. Her behavior has caused tension between a lot of our neighbors who have taken sides. Sad.
My question: Is it appropriate for board members to address these issues themselves? Shouldn’t any and all issues be brought to the attention of the manager so they can be investigated by him in a professional manner? Should the president or secretary be knocking on peoples doors in an attempt to enforce rules/by-laws when they aren’t actually rules/by-laws? In the above stated cases the president was proven wrong. My neighbor was able to keep her dog. The others were able to park in any spots that were not reserved. Karen.
A: There are Presidents, and there are Presidents (and I am not referring to Washington, DC). Most board officers I have worked with for more years than I want to admit, are hard working, have a good understanding of the rules and regulations and rely heavily on (a) other board members, (b) management, and (c) the association attorneys.
But over the years, I have also encountered board members – typically Presidents – who are on an ego trip. They want to be called “madam president”. They believe they have the absolute power to run the association, and the “rules be damned”.
What can you do? First, talk with other board members, assuming they have the same concerns as you. While directors can only be removed from office by the unit owners, officers can be removed by the rest of the board, although they have to remain board members. So perhaps the other board members will “thank her” for her service, and make her Secretary, or some other office holder.
You can, of course, mount a good old fashioned political campaign to “throw the rascals” out of office. Your bylaws will spell out the procedure and the requirements to do this.
And you can always put your hat in the ring and try to get elected to the board.
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As summer is upon us, and many of us find time to read a relaxing book, here are some suggestions. Marvin Nodiff, an experienced community association attorney in St. Louis, Mo.(and fellow member of the College of Community Associaton Attorneys (CCAL) has written a number of fascinating, humerous books based on his years of representing condominiums. He has taken real life situations and fictionalized them somewhat. Here are some of his books, which are available online: The Dark Condo; HOA Gobsmack; Special Assessment, and No Spitting on the Floor. Enjoy.