Category Archives: Board

Resigning Condo Board Members Creates Quorum Vacuum

D.L. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 26-unit community. The Bylaws state that 5-people are elected to the board annually. The property manager called the annual meeting to be June 21st however, prior to setting the date, 3-board members resigned, leaving only 2-board members.

How can the property manager call a meeting with only 2-board members approving the date? Also, since there are only two (2) board members, how can the annual meeting take place when there is not a quorum?

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., resigning Board members create a challenge for any association. It puts the burden of maintaining and governing the association on the remaining Board members. Most condo documents allow for interim appointment of Board Members by the remaining Board members so that the association can continue to govern itself until the next scheduled elections. Your Annual Meeting should be open to all unit owners. The two remaining Board members should run the meeting, with one functioning as President of the Board until the elections are held at the Annual Meeting. In a small community like yours, there are only 21 unit owners left to consider for service on the Board, assuming the three that resigned are no longer interested in serving. With such a small pool of potential Board Members, it is quite possible that you will have a vacancy or two on the Board until volunteer leaders come forward. Your existing Board will suffice until then. The alternative is to have an ungoverned association with no authority to pay the bills or make decisions on behalf of the association. That could lead to a very expensive dissolution of the association or a possible court-appointed receiver to handle the business of the association. You don’t want that! My advice would be to encourage other unit owners to serve and for you to consider volunteering to serve to help get your community back on track for good governance. All the best!

Condo Board Makes Parking Rules That Favor Board Members!

S.D. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our board has set up three classes of owners with respect to parking. 1. Owner that have only one car and a one reserved parking space. 2. garage owners not permitted to used visitors parking at all. 3. Non-garage users with multiple cars that can park any number of cars in visitor’s spots. This third category benefits board members without garages and have multiple cars. A new rule was passed by the board that garage owner must park their car in their garage only and cannot use visitor’s spots at any time. But multiple car owners and park 4 cars in visitor’s spots. This of course harms all owners that have lost their visitor spots. What recourse do owners have to make these rules more equitable?

Mister Condo replies:

S.D., when a Board behaves in a manner contradictory to the wishes of the majority of unit owners, they are usually tossed out of office. This can be done at the Annual Meeting or, if enough people are upset with their decision on parking, via a recall. Or, if a majority of unit owners are OK with how the Board has divvied up the parking, things can continue as they are. The Board does control the parking lots and the rules for their use. However, the Board does not have unchecked authority. The authority ultimately lies with the unit owners and who they elect to represent them. Enforcing parking rules is one thing. Creating rules that favor the Board members is quite another. I would not hesitate to bring this possible abuse of power to as many of your neighbors as possible and start looking for new volunteers to serve on your Board. Good luck!

Condo Board Closes Pools Versus Maintaining Them

T.K. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have 2 outdoor pools. For the past 2 years, 1 pool has been closed – no reason given. This year, none of the pools are opened. I was planning on attending the yearly board meeting that was to begin at 7 pm last evening. However, upon showing up for it we were told it wouldn’t be starting until 8 pm as they were “running late”. I have my own theory as to why they were delaying. What recourse do we have with regards to our pools not being opened and not being informed as to the situation? Our maintenance fees go up every single year without hesitation. Aren’t they liable to honor the dec’s & bylaws with regards to maintaining & operating the pools? So FED UP!

Mister Condo replies:

T.K., being fed up is a good start. Now, it is time to take action. I am sorry that you and your fellow unit owners are being denied full use of your amenities. Pools are a major amenity for many associations and you are correct that their care and maintenance is the responsibility of the Board. However, many associations fail to collect enough money in common fees to properly handle all of the fiscal responsibilities of the association. Even though as a unit owner, all you see is common fees that go up every year, that is no indication that enough money is being collected. Ultimately, associations need to have really good budgets and really good Reserve Studies adhered to in order to thrive. Would you be surprised if I told you that your common fees may need to rise 20 – 30% for that to happen? Would you support a Board that raised the common fees in order to meet the financial obligations of the association? The problem is that the Board is comprised of democratically elected unit owners who must run for election and reelection to serve their community. If they raise fees, they may not be returned to office as that is always an unpopular course of action. However, I can assure you, if the association ties their hands by not raising enough revenue to operate properly, you can expect your pools to remain closed. That is likely the tip of the iceberg. Are roofs being properly maintained? How about parking lots? How about walkways? Underfunded associations are easy to spot. The problems don’t all appear at once but they do surface. I would encourage you to have a candid conversation with your Board and fellow unit owners. If there is no money to make the repairs, you might want to be the one who suggest that common fees be raised. Without that extra capital to work with, I doubt much will change. Good luck!

Service Animals at the Condo Pool!

A.F. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are a pet friendly condo. However, we do have common areas like our pool deck that does not allow pets. I like dogs but more and more residents are turning up on the pool deck with their ESA dogs, its turning into a dog park – the condo management don’t know if they can enforce the pool deck rules and ask the ESA dogs to leave?

Mister Condo replies:

A.F., this is an area where the association needs to tread lightly. Service animals are not pets and, unfortunately for the association, are not subject to the same restrictions that the association can place on pets. There are a lot of lawsuits based upon discrimination of people with ESAs. The association doesn’t want to become embroiled in such a lawsuit. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice here. However, I would be remiss in my friendly advice duties if I didn’t tell you that you should speak with an attorney verse in both association law and service animal laws in your state to make sure the association doesn’t misstep. There may be reasonable accommodations that can be made that allow the folks with service animals to enjoy the common amenities while not imposing on the rights of the other users. I am not saying it will be a perfect solution but there may be a way to accommodate the desires of all. Get the advice of the association attorney and enjoy your amenities, without creating a lawsuit. Good luck!

Underfunded Condo Association Leaves Common Area Repair to New Owner

S.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

One year ago, an owner financed the sale of condo. Now the new owner says there is a serious drainage problem outside back sliding doors. He asked the HOA to fix the problem but there is no money available to do so. The HOA gave the new owner permission to do the job. Then the new owner got city inspectors involved who do concur that there is a major problem. Could the property potentially be condemned? New owner is telling us to either renegotiate our deal, thereby sharing cost of the job, or he will renege on the deal, putting all of the expense back on us. What can be done?

Mister Condo replies:

S.M., HOAs with insufficient funds often make bad decisions. In this case, a really bad decision is coming back to haunt the association. Exterior drainage problems are the problem of the association and should have been repaired by the association, not the unit owner. Further, the correct way to raise money for such a repair is to raise common fees, levy a special assessment, and build a Reserve Fund for future repairs and improvements. The phrase “no money available” indicates to me that there is also no Reserve Study in place and that the common fees have probably been way too low for way too long. The immediate problem facing the association is the possibility of a city inspector condemning the property. While that is an extreme measure, it is possible of the unit is in such disrepair as to cause the inspector to make such a call. Typically, even if a citation is given, the association has enough time to make the repair and avoid condemnation (unless human life is at stake, i.e. a collapsing roof or broken foundation). Assuming the repairs can be made by the association, get an estimate on the job, levy a special assessment or take an HOA loan (if eligible) and handle the repair. Then, sit down and take a good look at the budget for the association. Chances are common fees should be raised this year and for several years to come until the association gets back on sound financial footing. This may prove unpopular with unit owners but it is necessary for the association’s long-term fiscal health and to make sure the Board doesn’t need to make future bad decisions on needed repairs. All the best!

Has the Property Management Company Breached Their Co-op Contract?

A.S. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I moved into a co-op recently. The board hired a new management company. After being unsatisfied with the property manager in place (3 months) the management company suggested we take the receptionist with limited skills and no license/certification as the new property manager. The board agreed for some insane reason and this girl has made it her mission to drive off all of our contractors and service providers to bring in the people the management company uses. There is talk of kickbacks. They have done this on other properties. Every memo, directive, repair or task this girl executes is wrong, mismanaged and just turns out badly. She has offended and outraged a dozen usually nice normal shareholders with her behavior, demands, and stop work orders. She is also the management company owner’s new girlfriend and he obviously wants her on some property. Can she act as property manager with only 1 ten-hour online class and zero experience in construction, property management, facilities, etc.? The contract between the co-op and the management company states we have a property manager, a receptionist and an Acct Exec. They are in default of their contract, correct? Please let us know.

Mister Condo replies:

A.S., you have made a lot of accusations here and, if true, are certainly worth contacting the association’s attorney to discuss. Breaking a management company contract for an association of your size is no simple matter. Just because you claim the management company is in default does not mean that they are. You would need to be prepared to prove it, very likely in court, as the management company would be likely to sue for breaking of the contract. My best advice to you is to speak with the association attorney. As for the Board’s “insane reason” to agree with the management’s company proposal to use a secretary as the property manager, it is time to call them to task for making such a decision. The Board is comprised of elected members. They can be recalled or voted out of office at the next election cycle. People that use “insane reasoning” have no business representing the financial interests of co-op owners. This is very real money of the co-op owners they are spending and protecting. They need to behave like the Board of any business and make decisions that are in the best interest of all shareholders. It would appear to me that they have shown exceptionally poor judgment in this matter. Of course, that also means you need to be ready with a slate of new volunteers to serve on the Board. Without that, this Board may continue to serve the association poorly. In that case, putting the blame on the management company is only half correct. Good luck!

Condo Landlord Thwarted by Pet Ownership for Renter Rules

J.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Master Deed By-laws state only one pet per condo. House Rules state one pet per condo and then states no renters can have pets. Paragraph two speaks of renters having no pets. Paragraph three speaks of lessees needing to provide 2 references. Our lessee has one pet. POA wants to fine us because they say the House Rules say no pets for renters. I believe someone signing a lease for longer than 30 days is considered a lessee, not a renter. How do I fight this without an attorney? Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

J.C., I am sorry you find yourself at odds with your association over the pet rental rules. The terms “renters” and “lessees” are generally interchangeable so it would appear that your documents are in conflict with themselves. This is actually not that uncommon as many associations simply use a boilerplate as a basis for their documents. If there were no verbiage about the pet restrictions on renters, I would say you are in the clear. However, even though it appears to be in conflict with an earlier statement on the subject, the fact that there is a restriction on pets for renters elsewhere in the document, I would say you will not be successful in challenging the association’s position. You can challenge the association by filing suit, seeking arbitration, or whatever other method of dispute settlement is available to you. However, if you do not wish to hire an attorney, you will do so on your own. The association on the other hand would likely use the services of an attorney to defend themselves. In my non-lelgal opinion, the association will prevail. Good luck!

Antiquated Condo Parking Lot System Ineffective and Unenforceable

C.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The Manager of my Condominium does not exercise any control about the occupancy of the scarce parking lots. All these spots are numbered and some others (each for one each) and others are for visitors (without numbers), that is for the first that arrive. Can the owners know the parking spot numbers belonging to all others owners? Then we (the owners) can make a match to them and find abusive neighbors. There are many people that duplicate the hang tags or recycle from the former tenants and even have numbers that not matching with the numbers on the parking lots. The manager has mentioned that the number of each parking lot belong to the “privacy information”. Is this true?

Mister Condo replies:

C.S., it sounds like your association is using a very poor system of parking lot management. While it may fall to the Property Manager to enforce this system, I would complain to the Board that their system is ineffective and being rampantly abused by residents. All the Board needs to do is adopt a modern parking lot solution to get the problem under control. If they refuse to do that then the chaos will continue. Privacy issues are a legitimate concern and many people are not fond of outsiders (burglars, for instance) entering a property and inspecting vacant parking lot numbers to determine who is and isn’t at home. Vacant space equals a vacant unit. That might encourage a burglar to attempt a break-in. Many associations use alternate parking space assignments for just this reason. My advice is for you to write to the Board and ask them to modernize the parking lot assignment system. Then, the Property Manager is far more likely to be successful in enforcing the rules of the new system. All the best!

Condo Board Refuses to Hold Annual Meeting!

J.W. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo association elects board members at the annual association meeting. The current board will not schedule the annual election. The current board just keeps making decisions. How can a non-board member force the board to schedule an annual meeting so that new board members can be elected? The By-Laws call for the annual meeting to be held in April and they must give a minimum of 21 days’ notice.

Mister Condo replies:

J.W., if your Board is operating outside of the governing documents (it sure sounds like they are), you can do a few things to correct the situation. First, you can speak with other unit owners and call a Special Meeting of the unit owners following the method to do so outlined in your governing documents. This requires some organizational skills on your part and you do need to follow the proper procedures to do so. Your goal in this meeting would be to recall the current Board (essentially remove them from office) and replace them with better volunteer leaders who will follow the rules of governance for the association. This is serious business and I would even recommend that you speak with an attorney who specializes in community association law to guide you. This will cost money but is worth every penny, in my opinion. Your second option is to sue the Board for not following the governance rules of the association. This option may force the annual meeting but will do little to remove the Board members who are not following the rules. Your third option is to leave this community. That is a drastic measure but if you can’t find better volunteer leaders to run this association, you can either live with the out of rule-breaking Board or sell your unit. Communities get the Boards they deserve. If your fellow unit owners aren’t outraged that this Board isn’t operating by the rules, it is time to leave. It is only a matter of time before more than missed meetings are unearthed. Boards that operate in this renegade fashion are usually breaking multiple rules. This can cost every member of the association dearly in their pocketbook if left unchecked. You have your work carved out for you. Good luck!

Condo Move In Fees Create Budget Excess!

J.G. from Illinois writes:

I’ve tried submitting this blog question online, but I keep getting an error message saying I didn’t enter the “recaptcha” correctly.  It’s just a check box, so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.  I hope you’ll consider this question for your blog. We’re trying to determine the proper treatment of fees collected that are outside the normal monthly assessments.  We have a move-in fee and occasionally collect late fees for monthly assessments.

Our condo rules state:

“There is a $500.00 fee for moving in that is non-refundable to cover cleaning and future rekeying of the building. ”

Our condo declaration states:

“…the Board shall supply to all unit owners an itemized accounting of the common expenses for the preceding year actually incurred and paid, together with a tabulation of the amounts collected pursuant to the budget or assessments, and showing the net excess or deficit of income over expenditures plus reserves.  Any amount accumulated in excess of the amount required for actual expenses and reserves shall be credited … to the next monthly installments due…”

The IL Condo Act gives the Board the right to determine how to distribute excess as long as it’s not prescribed in the condo documents.

We’re expecting an excess this year due to a large number of unit turnovers.   Are we obligated to credit this to the owners?  Or, can we move any excess to reserves since it wasn’t “collected pursuant to the budget” (i.e. not part of the budget that all owners paid assessments for)? Thanks for any advice, opinions, or references!

Mister Condo replies:

J.G., I am sorry if the “recaptcha” tripped you up and I am glad that you emailed me instead. The “recaptcha” is needed due to deter the large amount of attempted SPAM that used to flood the website. Thank you for your vigilance. I am neither and attorney nor an expert in Illinois condo law so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. For a legal opinion, you should contact a local attorney who specializes in community association law. At face value, I would say that you should return any monies that were over-collected before simply depositing them to the Reserve Fund. This would be in keeping with the spirit and intention of the law which is to protect homeowners from paying more than needed or agreed to in their vote to approve the budget at the Annual Meeting. At the very least, I would offer the unit owners a vote on how to use those funds at next year’s Annual Meeting. Chances are, it isn’t such a large amount that you would get much pushback to moving the funds to the Reserve Fund where it can be used to protect all unit owners. I salute your thinking and commend you for increasing your Reserve Fund but my advice is to follow the spirit and intention of the law and even your own governing documents so that no init owner can cry foul and demand their money back. All the best!