Tips for removing your condo board president

Residents tired of 'nasty' letters, lax rule enforcement

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 6, 2012

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Residents tired of 'nasty' letters, lax rule enforcement

Benny Kass
Inman News®

DEAR BENNY: We are a small association of approximately 80 units. Our problem is that our president enforces only select rules. He is constantly sending nasty letters about barking dogs, playing Frisbee with dogs off the leash (this is done in a remote retention area) with no people around, and kids squealing as they play at the pool.

However, he will not enforce the parking rule, which states "no overnight street parking or parking on the grass." He also took all the garbage cans from the pool so there is nowhere to dispose of trash, but he allows smoking, and people drop their ashes on the pool deck or wherever they are. What recourse do we have? --Rebecca

DEAR REBECCA: The short and simple answer: "Throw the rascal out." Every association has bylaws, and they all contain language giving guidance as to how to remove a board member.

Board members are elected by the owners, and only the owners (based on the percentage vote spelled out in the bylaws) can remove a director. However, officers are generally elected by the board, and in that situation the board can also remove an officer, but not from the board itself.

How many board members are there? Have you discussed your concerns with the other board members? Are they afraid of the president?

You cannot act on your own; you need to gather a large group of owners so that you will have sufficient votes to remove the president from the board. This is an election year; mount a good old-fashioned political campaign, just as if you were managing a senatorial or even a presidential election. Hold meetings in owners' apartments, and prepare and circulate a letter to all owners explaining your concerns.

But keep in mind that you need to garner support, and not every owner will go along with you. You will have to arrange to have the board secretary set up a formal meeting time and place, when the recall vote will take place. And you will need to get proxies from those owners who do not plan to attend.

Community association living is democracy at its best and sometimes at its worst. If you cannot get sufficient support to remove the president from the board, you basically have three alternatives: (1) try to get elected to the board; (2) put up with the activities of the president; or (3) move out.

DEAR BENNY: I purchased a condo in November 1984. I was the first homeowner here. Two years ago a woman moved into our complex and did not like our rules. Since then, she has disseminated false information to homeowners to get her colleagues on the board along with her. She is now the president and the only liaison between our "new" lawyer. She has totally taken charge.

We have a pet rule, "No pets over 30 pounds." Letters were sent out under our old board in October 2011 stating that pets weighing more than 30 pounds had to be removed by this month and that the board of directors would consider no further appeals for a variance of this rule.

One of the board members is not in compliance and will not enforce the rule. I have documentation as well as pictures of this board member posing with her large dog. Where do I stand? Should I have to pay for another lawyer to make the board do what is right? Our association lawyer will not talk to me and says she works for the association, which in short, is our president. --Lou

DEAR LOU: Your situation is no different from Rebecca's that I just answered. Unfortunately, there are a number of board members who are on an ego trip; they want to be called "mister or madam president." They know that many owners are like sheep, and will merely follow along with the crowd and not rock the boat or "throw that rascal out" of office.

As I asked Rebecca, have you talked with the other board members? Do they really support the president?

And are you alone in this venture or can you gather a large group of owners? There is strength in numbers, and the more owners you have on your side, the more the board will listen to your concerns.

You may have to retain another attorney to guide you through the process. If you have a number of owners supporting you, they should share in the cost of that lawyer.

DEAR BENNY: I have a listing on a condo for sale/lease. There are 49 units and 13 are currently tenant-occupied. My client requested permission from the board to lease his condo subject to selling or a lease with an option to purchase, but the association denied the request.

Who determines how any units can actually be used to rent? Is there any recourse for my client? --Ava

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