Category Archives: Voting

How Many Condo Proxy Votes Can One Person Make?

J.R. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

How many proxy votes can one person control and place?

Mister Condo replies:

J.R., voting by proxy is a common practice. The rules that govern how many proxy votes that a single person can control vary by governing documents (many are silent on the subject) and state laws. In my state of Connecticut, proxy votes are generally limited to not more than 15% of the total eligible votes for most matters. That means that if an association has 100 units, the proxy voter could cast votes for their own unit plus 14 others. Any additional proxy votes they held would not be counted. There is also the concept of limited proxy voting, meaning a unit owner has given another unit owner a proxy for a particular item. This is most common for things like voting in favor or against an Annual Budget or a Special Assessment. The single most important item to consider when proxy votes are used is that the person or persons counting the proxy votes understands both the association’s rules on proxy voting as well as the state laws on proxy voting. I have seen and heard first-hand accounts of associations that get this wrong and later have a unit owner contest the results of a vote. Depending on what is being voted on, this could be quite costly to the association. Imagine passing a Special Assessment and the proxy votes were tabulated incorrectly. The association hires a contractor only to have the vote challenged and thrown away. Now the association is on the hook to the contactor and won’t have the money to pay. Yikes! If you or your association is unsure about the exact process for how proxy votes should be used at your association, I recommend you speak with a locally qualified community association attorney who can give you an opinion on what your governance documents and state law say about the matter. That way, you will be in full compliance with both. Good luck!

Condo President Refuses to Relinquish Association Checkbook

T.C. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We recently changed management companies because they violated CT laws. Our President dragged his foot for 4 months before receiving a letter from the state ordering us to change companies. He was given the check book until we found a company. We found a company and he refuses to turn over the check book. Is this legal?

Mister Condo replies:

T.C., I am not an attorney and offer no legal opinions here. If you are asking me what I think of the President holding on to the checkbook and refusing to turn it over to the management company, I would say that is not a very friendly gesture and not stepping off on the right foot with the new management company. Is it criminal? Not in my book but it isn’t very sportsmanlike either. The great news is that your Board President can be voted out of office at the next Annual Meeting. Why don’t you and a group of like-minded unit owners volunteer to serve on the Board? That way, after you are elected, you can determine who will hold the various offices of the Board. If, on the other hand, the Board President has held the checkbook because there is evidence of missing money or such in there, and he has done something criminal, it is time to call the police. Stealing from the association is a crime. Work with your new management company to see what, if any, wrongdoing has occurred. If there is no harm, there is no foul. Either way, it sounds like it is time for a Board President who will act in the best interest of the association. Good luck!

Condo Board Dictates Condo Parking Lot Rules

T.P. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our condo bylaws include parameters for parking clearly aimed at owners. The HOA passed a rule stating that owners cannot use the parking spaces (the units have garages). Can HOA rules override bylaws? If so, what is legally required for them to do so?

Mister Condo replies:

T.P., the Board controls the common elements. Parking lots are common elements so the Board controls their use and can place whatever restrictions upon them that they see fit. The good news is that you control who gets to serve on the Board through democratic vote. If you and your fellow unit owners don’t like the parking lot rules, vote out the rule-makers and replace them with Board members who see it your way. That is the beautiful part of having democratically elected members of your Board. All the best!

Condo Board Members Vote by Email; Changes Vote After the Fact

D.L. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Dear Mr. Condo – I am a unit owner in a 26-unit condominium. The Board of Directors voted unanimously via email to hire a contractor to perform emergency work due to the flooding of a unit by a renter.

Approximately two (2) days after the vote the Secretary notified the Management Company and the Board that she was changing her vote after speaking to the homeowner whose renter caused the water damage, as his contractor was the one not agreed to be hired.

As a result of the vote change, the President, one of only three (3) directors resigned and there are only two (2) directors (less than a quorum) remaining on the board.

I have the following three (3) questions:

1. Does the original internet vote stand?

2. The annual meeting is coming up on June 21st. Can that meeting take place without a quorum?

3. If the annual meeting cannot take place due to the lack of a quorum, what is the process by which the unit owners can call a meeting to elect a new board and adopt the annual budget?

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., Wow! You have a lot if issues at your condo, don’t you? If the internet vote was legal, meaning the association has allowed for the Board to vote by email, then the vote was valid. Unless your by-laws allow for Board members to change their vote after the fact (highly unlikely) then the vote should have stood, regardless of who resigned after the vote. That being said, there is the issue of practicality and what can actually be done now that the Board has fallen apart. The concept of quorum is an important one and you need to look at your governing documents and state law to determine when a quorum is achieved and what happens when the quorum is not achieved. Keep in mind that a quorum for an Annual Meeting is far different than a quorum for a Board meeting. As long as you achieve quorum at your Annual Meeting, you can simply elect new Board Members to fill the vacancies. With only 26 units, you have the added challenge of finding interested candidates. If quorum is not achieved, typically the previous year’s budget continues in place until next year’s Annual Meeting. The remaining Board members typically have the power to appoint directors to fill vacancies if warranted. If there is no quorum requirement for the Board, the existing members can serve out their terms and run for reelection when the time comes. Your question demonstrates some of the challenges faced by smaller associations. You have the same need for volunteers to serve on your Board but a much smaller pool of unit owners to choose from. I hope that you and few of your well-meaning neighbors will consider running for the Board at your next election. If it cannot wait until then, your condo documents very likely spell out the rules for calling a Special Meeting of Unit Owners. This is not that common but it can be done. My advice is to wait until your Annual Meeting and have a qualified and interested slate of candidates who will do a better job of running your association. Good luck!

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!

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 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 Board Divided Not Getting Work Done

R.G. from Florida writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

My board can’t agree on replacing security cameras. Meanwhile we have no cameras. Our pool is also closed since November for structural repairs. Five members can’t agree on anything or even get a quorum. I want to know what can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

R.G., other than running for the Board yourself or electing folks that work better together, there isn’t anything you can do. Board members are volunteer leaders from within your community and are democratically elected by you and the other unit owners in your association. They are charged with conducting the business of the association but they don’t have to get along or agree on anything, kind of like members of Congress! Unlike members of Congress, they aren’t compensated for their work but that doesn’t mean they can ignore the wishes of their constituents! My advice is to look at the Minutes of the Board meetings this past year and find out how the members are voting. If you don’t like what you see, organize more like-minded candidates to run for the Board. Perhaps you should consider running? That way, you’ll have a ringside seat to see what is causing these delays. Otherwise, my guess is you can expect more of the same. Good luck!