R.D. from Arkansas writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Wow! I own a condo in Arkansas. POA/Board members and president of board have announced a special assessment fee for new paint job. They only got two bids and those bids were taken in summer. They painted in the middle of winter (December in Arkansas) but they paid the summer rate! I went over and saw right off they did not know what they were doing and damaging our place. Over spray everywhere, I emailed the board. They were happy with the work! Well, I saw them working in unsuitable conditions. I must have sent 100 email and pics. Told them it was already peeling. Also, I asked painter, how many coats you putting on? He said two. I said how? Reply at one time. Board president knew them, I went to board meeting, and she would not let me talk. President did nothing to help us. She took up for painters whole time. Our condos are badly damaged and paint is peeling everywhere. President would. It use bond. President singled me out, gave me a fine, did not follow bylaws, or did I get 30 days to Fix the violation, the money was taken out of my POA, with out my ok. I confronted president of board about knowing the painters and I got a nasty letter. Saying things that were not true about me, trying to make me be quiet. Everything I said is coming true. What can I do? They ripped us off! $30,000 just on the two coats at once, that I had specs of!
Mister Condo replies:
R.D., you certainly have a lot of issues jumbled up into one great tirade. Let’s break things down and see if we can’t get you headed in the right direction. Let’s start with the basics of a Property Owners Association, or POA. The POA gets its authority in the same way a condominium, timeshare, PUD, or other community association does. There is a charter with detailed instructions on the rules of governance. Your state also has some laws that protect you and the POA in issues of governance. There is a Board of Directors, democratically elected from within the association members and the Board is charged with carrying out the business of the association. They do this by holding regularly scheduled Board meetings, which are open to members like you to observe. Unless specified for member comment, members may only observe. The Board handles votes and issues. There may be a period of time allowed for member comment but members are usually silent during the bulk of the Board meeting. Once per year, there is an Annual meeting for all members where comments and votes from the members determine the association’s budget and the election of Board members as their terms expire. Unless otherwise specified, the elected Board members vote amongst themselves for the various officer positions, including Board President, who has the job of presiding over the Board and usually has a few other executive tasks to deal with, like signing contracts and other official documents of the association. That is your POA governance in a nutshell.
The bidding and awarding of the painting contract was the charge of the entire Board. While it is common practice to receive three bids on contracts such as painting, it is not always practical or possible. I imagine that there were two bids for the Board to consider and they chose the contractor they thought best suited for the job.
From what you have described, this contractor did not do a very good job providing the painting services contracted for. I don’t blame you of your fellow homeowners for being upset about the shoddy work. However, the painting contractor worked for the POA, not the homeowners. It is the charge of the Board to go after the painting contractor for remedy to the situation. If the contract specifying the job was not prepared in such a way that the Board can sue, there may be little left to do but cry over such a lousy job. The Board will need to make repairs to the paint job and decide if it is worth suing the original contractor for the money to do so. This is an area where the POA’s attorney may be useful. Also, I would suggest the POA use an attorney to review any future painting contract so that there is contractual wording to prevent such a shoddy job from happening again.
I can tell from your letter that you don’t particularly care for your POA Board President. It would seem that the two of you lock horns regularly. That is too bad. The President is an unpaid volunteer leader from within your community. This is someone you should volunteer to help, not fight with. Regardless of what issues you were fined for, you are entitled to due process. You should first receive a letter of violation where you are invited to address the Board to discuss the rules you are accused of violating. After consideration, the Board may then decide to levy a fine against you. The Board President does not have the authority to simply fine you. There is a process that must be observed. If not, you may wish to hire an attorney to take action against the Board. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Good luck!