Q: We are reaching out to you not as “dissidents” or “trouble makers” as we’ve been called by our condo association board president, but rather as frustrated unit owners in need of some guidance.
Based on numerous situations and examples, we have come to the conclusion that our association board members lack integrity and professional management skills. Their actions reflect these characteristics and create a very negative environment for many residents of our building.
Numerous unethical, though not illegal, actions have taken place with no accountability of their actions.
The root cause in our opinion is the president who has held this position for more than 16 years. He manipulates the residents, controlling the election process and handpicks the board year after year. As a result, the president has retained power while enlisting board members with limited or no knowledge on how an association should be run.
This in turn has lead to lack of full transparency of the expenditures and an inconsistent application of the condo association rules and regulations. For example, the board refuses to provide a clear and concise statement of cash flow, won’t audit our building’s financials, overspends on special projects without providing details or explanations to unit owners as required by law, fines homeowners on a whim, overspends (by $30,000 a year) on the condo board attorney to defend these unwarranted fines, and not only pays the association board president but increased her salary by 30 percent last year.
Furthermore, the president has leveraged her dominance over the association attorney and has made numerous changes to the association’s bylaws and regulations, targeting specifically those who have voiced opposition to her elections or ideas.
We have contacted and consulted with various attorneys and other professionals, but we are wondering what you think we should do about this situation.
A: Your condo board association president is being paid? And, her salary was increased by 30 percent last year? And, you can’t find enough votes to get her thrown off?
This sounds like a perfectly dreadful situation and while you say no laws have been broken, many states have specific condominium laws that regulate condominium associations. Most of them contain specific requirements for auditing financials of the association and the documentation that must be given to its members on a yearly basis.
You’re going to need to find out how many residents also believe the situation in your building is outrageous and whether they’re willing to stand behind you to throw out the president or perhaps the entire board of directors.
You can try to do it on the cheap, by simply voting her out. But if that doesn’t work, you might try finding a litigation attorney who specializes in local condo board law to assist you in suing the board.
If you are correct in your assessment of the manner in which the board and its president has conducted itself, you may need to remind the attorney that represents the board that he or she represents the condominium association and not the individuals on the board. But you’ll need to consult with an attorney on this issue.
Your circumstances are not unique. It often happens that individuals who live in condo buildings that do cause trouble for boards and don’t have a legal right to demand what they claim.
Whether you find that you are right or not, you may decide that you can’t live in a building run by others and may need to live in a single family home where you control your surroundings to a greater degree.
Good luck. Let me know what happens.