Condo’s Casual Way of Doing Business May Deny Unit Owner’s Rights  

K.K. from Wisconsin writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are a 4-unit condo in Wisconsin. I am the treasurer. We don’t have a board of directors, we have always been able to figure things out between us. There is a shared driveway and we pay 1 company to plow the snow and do the landscaping. 3 out of 4 owners want to keep the company for now and reevaluate next year. The one owner is saying she is going to hire someone else to do her part of the driveway and expects me to calculate monthly how much her share was and reimburse her from the $80/mo. maintenance fee we pay for landscape/snow removal, general condo insurance and the company that takes care of weed control and fertilizing. I have never in my life heard of someone doing this! I am going to consult a real estate attorney if need be because this person has had many unreasonable demands and is truly ignorant on how condo associations work. Just wondering what your thoughts are?

Mister Condo replies:

K.K., there is nothing wrong with small condo living… until there is! You have provided an example of what can transpire when one of the owners doesn’t have an understanding of exactly what they have purchased and what decisions they do or don’t have a say in. On the flip side, I am fairly certain that your governing documents do call for a Board of Directors (or other name for the governing authority of the association). The fact that you haven’t held formal meetings may or may not hinder your future operation of the association. Even though this recalcitrant unit owner wants to deviate from the norm, she most likely has the right to attend Board meetings and vote on which vendors are used, association rules, and so on. You may need to change how you do business as a Board if you are to maintain the Board’s authority to make such decisions. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if you have denied this unit owner her right to vote and participate in the decision-making process as outlined in your governance documents. Take a look at the docs and see that you are not denying her any rights. Other than that, you should be fine. Good luck!

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