Category Archives: Communications

Do Condo Boards Have to Take Minutes?

E.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

When condos board meet to hey have to take minutes?

Mister Condo replies:

E.G., absolutely! Minutes are the only official record of Condo Board Meetings. Without Minutes, it is as if the meeting never happened. Condo Boards are representatives of a corporation and have a responsibility to the shareholders of the corporation (the unit owners) to maintain proper records of actions they take. Not every item discussed needs to be in the Minutes but every vote taken certainly does. A Board that operates without taking Minutes risks being sued by any unit owner who doesn’t agree with decisions made by the Board. While state laws vary on what must be included in the Minutes, almost all are based on some type of Corporation Act and some type of Condominium or Common Interest Act. These laws typically demand that Minutes be kept and be made available to unit owners upon request once approved by the Board. This protects both the Board and the unit owners. Some Boards farm out the actual recordkeeping to a Property Manager or other third party but the Minutes need to be submitted back to the Board who votes on their correctness and ratifies them into association records. I hope your Board is keeping Minutes. Thanks for the question!

Board Cites “Attorney/Client” Privilege in Questionable Condo Document Amendments

E.C. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Board of Directors are amending our documents without the required 75% of the membership. I was told that two legal opinions were obtained by the BOD stating they have the right to do so. When I requested a copy of the legal opinions, the Management Company said they were invoking Attorney/Client privilege and I was refused. I am an owner of this Corporation and believe these opinions were obtained and probably paid for with my money. Should I be entitled to see these documents?

Mister Condo replies:

E.C., the short answer is “yes” but there are certain caveats in place to protect the Board. In other words, they have the right to withhold the documents during the period in question. I doubt it has anything to do with “attorney/client” privilege as much as it is an action they are taking as an Executive Board, which your governance documents likely give them the ability to do. Either way, if your documents or state law don’t allow them to amend your documents without a 75% vote, these amendments can and should be challenged by you or any other member of the association. You will want your own legal opinion, if necessary. Also, and more importantly, feel free to vote these folks out of office at your earliest convenience. Amending documents should not be done secretly, covertly, or improperly. Regardless of “legal opinion”, the will of the unit owners needs to be respected. These folks were elected to serve, not clandestinely revise the amendments to the association. I would interfere loudly with their plans and then prepare to vote new Board members in to office who will do a better job serving the will of the people. It may very well be that your association needs to revise its bylaws. Holding a meeting and involving the majority of unit owners as outlined in your governing documents is the way to do so. Good luck!

Condo Board Keeping Election Results Private

V.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Voting for three trustee positions with four individuals seeking a position was done primarily via proxy ballot. At the annual meeting, a quorum was not achieved. Some unit owners believe we have an obligation to post the results of the ballot count even though there was no quorum. What is your opinion?

Mister Condo replies:

V.M., results of any vote, proxy or other, are association records. As such, all unit owners have a right to see the results. However, allowing access to records and posting the results are two different things. I would say that any unit owner who wishes to see the results should request the record inspection. The association may or may not charge a small fee for the record inspection as detailed on your state law. My advice would be to always keep communication channels open between unit owners and the Board so as not to give the appearance of impropriety. An informed constituency is generally happier than one that is kept in the dark.

The lack of quorum at your Annual Meeting has no effect on this but it does bear the question of why proxy voting is required and why unit owners are not attending the Annual Meeting. This is common in seasonal properties (i.e. beach communities where owners may not be present year-round) but uncommon in associations where unit owners are typically at home. If the reason for no quorum is unit owner apathy, the unit owners have no one to blame but themselves. As long as the Board has nothing to hide, I would publish the results of the vote just to keep everyone happy and informed. All the best!

New Condo Owner Asks to See Association Records

J.S. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does a new owner, 7 days, have the right to see minutes and running balance sheets from previous years? She did not ask for any of this before she bought. If so, is there a time limit to which I have to get her this information? Thanks!

Mister Condo replies:

J.S., all unit owners, regardless of how long they have owned, have a right to inspect association records. That certainly includes bank statements and Minutes of meetings as these are official records of the association. Unless the association has something to hide, this should be a request that is simply honored. Failure to do so, on the other hand, could lead to a lawsuit from this new owner as you would be violating the unit owner’s rights by withholding this information. There may or may not be a time limit on honoring this request depending on your by-laws and your state law. My advice is to offer it forthwith. All the best!

When is a Condo Guest More than a Guest?

S.W. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Florida condo provides parking sticker for unit owner that lives in unit plus 2 guest passes. My son visits 3 days a week & stays overnight & hangs the permanent guest pass. Board wants him to lie in tenant form that he lives in unit & pays rent. By laws / condo docs state guest can park for a limit is 30 days, for a period of 4 months, except for family members. Board member stated the car will be towed if just using a guest pass. He is my son, therefore a family member & we do not falsify written documents. What are my rights? Also, sometimes I drive his car that is also registered to me.

Mister Condo replies:

S.W., I am sorry you find yourself at odds with your association over your son’s car. You should not be asked to falsify documents but you should also respect the rules of the association. Obviously, the association feels as though your son’s car being on property so frequently is a violation of the rules. You don’t feel that way so there is a disagreement between you and the association over the interpretation of the rules. Let’s start with the premise that you own both cars and want to keep them parked on association grounds. If what you have told me is correct, that isn’t allowed. You get one parking sticker per unit and that is being used for your car. You also get two guest passes that were designed for the specific use of short-term visiting guests. The association has very specific rules on what defines a guest. I can’t tell you specifically how to interpret those rules because you end the statement with “except for family members”, which clearly your son is. What are the rules for family members? Is there a form to fill out indicating that he is a family member? If so, fill it out and follow the rules for family members. If you continue to use the guest pass and the Board feel you are violating the rules, they may begin to fine you and/or tow his car as they have threatened to do. Many associations have these parking restrictions in place so that unit owners don’t skirt rules about long-term visitors and family members taking vacation within units. My guess is that the association is in the right here but you may wish to seek a legal opinion from a local attorney and see what additional rights you have. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least and I am sure neither you nor your son are seeking to be uncooperative. It would be nice to take a deeper look at your documents to see what you are doing “wrong” in the eyes of the association. If all it takes to satisfy them is filling out a form that says he is a family members and not just another visitor, I would likely advise you to do so. All the best!

Upstairs Condo Flooring Creates Downstairs Condo Nightmare

T.A. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Can an HOA threaten or sue me to not call or complain about the constant noises from the unit above mine. It’s like hammering or whatnot. They changed their flooring around January or February of last year and it seems like not a minimum adequate sound barrier was put. I’ve had to call the police several times. Now he’s saying I’ve aggressively approached him using profane language. Not true. I’ve approached him civilly twice and the last time I asked him to “please! Stop the noises or I’m going to have to call the police”…he said call them and slammed the door. He’s now “saying in harassing him by calling the police and aggressively threatening him? Whatever the case, I’m in Florida. Can they sue me or threat me to stop calling the police non-emergency number when the noises get unbearable?

Mister Condo replies:

T.A., I am most sorry for your unfortunate predicament. In today’s litigious world, lawsuits abound and just about anyone can sue anyone else for seemingly ridiculous reasons. You and I are no exception so there is always the possibility of a lawsuit. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let me address the basis of your complaint and what you may be able to do using your rights as a unit owner inside of a condominium. Step 1 is to review your condo documents regarding peaceable enjoyment of your unit. Also, take a good look at what it says about flooring. Many condominiums prohibit the installation of hardwood or laminate or tile flooring in units that reside above other units. If your upstairs neighbor violated that rule by removing carpeting and installing a new floor, this is relatively simple to fix. You write to the Board about the rule violation by your neighbor and the Board will take action to remedy the situation. This will involve the Board, not you, citing the unit owner for the rule violation and the fines they will incur until they remedy the flooring. If your association has no rule about flooring types, you likely have the right to peaceable enjoyment. You are going to write to the Board about the noise emanating from above and the Board should take action. If they don’t and there is no legal remedy available to you, you should consider selling and moving to an association that values peace and quiet. You have an expectation to minimal noise. Living beneath hardwood or other flooring creates a really bad environment for sound intrusion, which is exactly the reason it isn’t allowed in many condos. My guess is that with some proper complaints (in writing, not verbal) to the Board (not your neighbor), you will get the relief you seek. Good luck!

Are Condo Unit Owner’s Comments Required for Board Meeting Minutes?

J.P. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our board meets tonight and there is a section for unit owner comments. Are those comments required to be part of the minutes published or is it at the discretion of the board?

Mister Condo replies:

J.P., I am glad to hear you are offering a time and a place for unit owners to make comments at the Board Meeting. That is good governance and shows compliance with our state’s Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA). The Minutes of the meeting reflect motions, votes, and actions taken by the Board as well as a few other housekeeping items such as approval of the previous Minutes, and reports from Committees, Property Manager (if any), and even a President’s Report, if offered. The Minutes are not an item for item reiteration of the meeting and other than acknowledging that there was a Unit Owner comment period as noted in the Agenda, the actual comments made do not have to be included in the Minutes. There could be exceptions, of course, and the Board, at its discretion, may wish to include details of the comments in the Minutes if they so wish. All the best!

Noisy Neighbor Making Condo Life Unbearable for New Owner

A.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I know you get a fair amount of questions about how to deal with noise in condo living situations. Here’s another one. I just moved into a unit in a rather large building, back in February. On the night of the walk-through I noticed that in the master bedroom I could hear the next door neighbor’s television. The former owners joked at the closing that the neighbor was fond of westerns and classical music (meaning they were familiar with the noise). Said former owners slept in the guest bedroom and used the unit as a weekend home, so they were not here very often nor did they sleep in bedroom with noise.

I do sleep in my master bedroom. The neighbor is an eighty-five-year-old man who has owned here since the seventies. (I know this because on the only occasion I have had to actually address my concern about his loud television in the middle of the night, he told me that he had lived here for forever and that I should sleep in my master bedroom…) I expect quiet, to the degree that I can get it. I had not expected that I would have to deal with loud television sounds in the middle of the night. The neighbor is pretty deaf and perhaps unaware (?) of how loud is his television. He definitely has a sense of entitlement because of his length of ownership. Are there tools that can assist an elderly person with knowing if they are going above a certain decibel level with their noise?

I am in communication with the management company. So far, they have done nothing about the issue. Instead, they suggest that I have someone come into my unit to ascertain if I am truly hearing something. Considering that I am a light sleeper and have really good hearing, and that their suggestion is based on a truly subjective meter, I’m pretty sure I will not allow someone in my unit at 1:00 a.m.. So, mostly I write emails that don’t get a response and call the door person and don’t get relief.

Any suggestions?

Mister Condo replies:

A.M., I am sorry that you find yourself in this position within your own home. Some condo governance documents are quite specific on acceptable noise levels; many are silent on the subject and simply call for peaceable enjoyment of the premise, which leaves a lot of wiggle room for both the Board and the unit owners. The vast majority of unit owners live by the Golden Rule: Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You. However, if you have neighbor that is hard of hearing and is unresponsive to your requests to keep the noise down, you now have to look at other options. While your Property Manager may not take action, your Board doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring your formal request to take action and enforce the association’s rules on noise, whatever they may be. Start with reviewing your condo documents to see what they say about acceptable noise levels. Make a formal complaint to the Board, in writing, and site the by-laws that support your complaint. Then, follow up with the Board to make sure they do take action. If your neighbor is violating rules, they can fine him. He will resist and play the “I’ve been here forever” card but that has no legal importance whatsoever. If the Board thinks he is violating the noise rules, they can take action to correct his behavior. You need to continue to document each time he breaks the noise rules and report to the Board when he does. In other words, be a squeaky wheel. Make your problem their problem. If you still get no relief, speak with an attorney to see what other legal actions may be available to you. My guess is it won’t come to that but that would be your path to relief. Good luck!

Condo Owner Can’t Get Copy of By-Law Changes

S.G. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a 6-unit condo with 2 units on the market. There have been updates made to the by-laws in the last couple of years, but no formal version has been shared. I’ve tried to call a meeting to find out what is being shared with prospective purchasers, but I can’t even get a reply to email. Are there any options available?

Mister Condo replies:

S.G., updates to by-laws need to be published and distributed to unit owners as called for in your by-laws. If these updates happened in the last couple of years, you should have been served notice. It sounds like that didn’t happen. As for requesting an association record such as a by-law change, you have every right to do so and the Board must comply. However, in a small association like yours, things don’t always go as they should and you have run up against an unresponsive Board. Are there options available? Sure! Will you want to spend the money to sue the Board to force them to produce the documents? Probably not. The good news is that with 2 of the 6 units on the market, there is about to be a 33% change in ownership. This is a great time for you to run for the Board so you can have a first-hand look at what’s going on. Don’t be surprised if there are no formal records from this previous Board. Sound to me like they are flying by the seat of their pants. Good luck!

Condo Documents Offer Confusing Description of Window Ownership

R.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The boundary of the windows says: the plane of the interior face of the glass and the frames mullions and muttons. So, who is responsible for window replacement?

Mister Condo replies:

R.H., without knowing more about your governing documents, I would be guessing who is responsible for your replacement windows. The legalese used to describe your window ownership is the stuff that makes community association attorneys busy for years and years! Sounds like common sense could cause you to argue the case for the ownership to be the association or the unit owner, depending on how the wind is blowing. My first question is what has been done in the past? Has the association paid in the past? If not, they aren’t likely to start paying for them now. If this is the first time through the window replacement project for the association, I would recommend an attorney offer a qualified opinion on the matter. The good news is it sounds like you are going to get some new windows. I hope you enjoy them!