Tag Archives: CIOA

Former Board Member Making Life Difficult for New Board and Condo Contractors

M.M. from Windham County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

A resident is prone to harassing our contractors for landscaping and snow removal. He is very resentful that he is no longer on the board and sends us lengthy emails about their shortcomings. Years ago, he used to enjoy kickbacks from contractors who no longer work here. He also removes branches, shovels snow and blames us for his hernia. Our manager reminded him that he is not to do work on the common areas, and he is livid. So far, our new board is calm, but he is accusing us of horrible crimes, threatens to expose someone’s DUI arrest and demands to see contracts under CT’s FOI rule. We know FOI does not govern this, but what is the specific law that does govern a privately-held condo association? How do we protect ourselves?

Mister Condo replies:

M.M., it certainly sounds like you have your hands full with this unit owner. The Common Interest Ownership Act is very likely the law that gives him the right to inspect any and all association records, which includes contracts that the association has entered into. I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. While the association does need to provide information as requested, it does not need to do so for free. Reasonable fees for preparing and copying the documents can be charged. Again, there are limits so check with your association’s attorney before deciding how much to charge for the record copies. As for protecting yourselves, you simply need to practice good governance and realize that you are officers in a not-for-profit corporation. You are bound by your own governance documents and state law. I always recommend that Board members receive adequate training and in our state, the local Chapter of CAI offers an excellent program called “Condo, Inc.” where Board members can learn the basics of good community governance. In fact, there are three programs offered this next year. You can lean more by clicking the following link: http://www.caict.org/events/event_list.asp?show=&group=&start=10%2F31%2F2017&end=&view=&cid=18225 Good luck!

HOA Board Governing but Not by The Rules!

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D.C. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

There are 29 homes in my HOA. The board refuses to get training and dictates policy based on their judgement. They have dictated that we have to clear the snow from sidewalks in front of our lot. My lot front has a 10 foot set back. Shouldn’t all sidewalks be labeled common areas and therefore cleared along with the sidewalks in front of open spaces which are undeveloped? The board has failed to operate using the CT state statutes updated in July 2010. Members to the board were elected by show of hands. That allowed TWO votes per household instead of ONE / household. Robert Rules of order were not use!!! What can I do to get the board to comply with the CT Statutes? I placed my common fee in escrow and am being sued. Many Thanks

Mister Condo replies:

D.C., I am sorry for your problems. As you have seen, placing your common fees in escrow is not a good idea and you should not continue that practice as you can not only be sued but even foreclosed upon for continued nonpayment of common fees. Let’s talk about a better approach.

Your HOA has governing documents as part of the establishment of the HOA. I assume you have a copy of these documents and have ready them thoroughly so you have a starting point to explain your points to the Board. While there are no requirements that your Board receive training, there are requirement, under the law, that they observe the HOA’s governance documents and that they abide by any state and federal laws that may supersede those documents, such as the Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), to which you have referred.

I am not an attorney so please accept my advice as friendly and not legal. Your Board needs a bit of a wake-up call if they are not following proper governance. They must abide by the HOA’s governance documents. If that calls for one vote per home in the HOA then that is how the votes should be held. If snow removal is defined in the governance documents, then they should follow the proper procedures for snow removal. They can dispense with Roberts Rules of Order at any meeting but they must first hold a vote to do so. In very much the same way the Board has sued you for nonpayment of common fees, you may need to sue them for not keeping the covenants as outlined in the governance documents. For that, you will most likely need an attorney, which will cost you money, but will get the Board behaving in better form in short order. You may also wish to speak with other homeowners in the HOA about running for office. The folks that serve on your Board are elected volunteers. If they aren’t getting the job done, it may be time for some better volunteers. Good luck!

Do Condo Documents Have to Be Updated When Laws Change?

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J.W. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What are the implications for a condo association or Board of Directors if the association’s documents have not been updated to comply with the 2010 changes to CT condo law?

Mister Condo replies:

J.W., that is a great question with a few different answers. The short answer is that federal law trumps state law and state law trumps your condominium’s governing documents, regardless of what provisions they actually contain. If your condo documents have not been updated or amended to reflect the changes in the 2010 revisions to the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act, the association is still bound to observe and respect the provisions of the law or it could find itself in some hot water with unit owners who seek to exercise their rights under the law. That being said, there can be a significant cost and effort to revising condominium documents and many communities simply keep their existing documents in place and either observe the laws as a matter of practice or have a less expensive treatment called a document overlay as an amendment to their current documents. This method saves the association money and also allows for compliance with the CIOA revisions as   part of their governing documents. Whether the documents are updated or not, the state law supersedes and must be observed. All the best!

Is It Against the Law for Association Vendors To Donate Money To Condominium?


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L.D. from Middlesex County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our executive board agreed unanimously to accept monies solicited by a Unit Owner from our vendors who wishes (along with a few other unit owners) to install a flagpole with lights in the community. By accepting this contribution, isn’t this a violation of the CHAPTER 828* COMMON INTEREST OWNERSHIP ACT Sec. 47-245

(j) No person shall provide or offer to any executive board member or a person seeking election as an executive board member, and no executive board member or person seeking election as an executive board member shall accept, any item of value based on any understanding that the vote, official action or judgment of such member or person seeking election would be or has been influenced thereby.

The Board unanimously voted to do this because the money influenced them and this is verified in the minutes that they accepted this money under these circumstances, thanking the solicitor for their initiative. So they made this decision without involving the community at large stating they have the power as the Executive Board to make changes to the Common Elements. This has upset the community as they feel they have been railroaded into something that is going to have maintenance and other expenses going forward and needs more due diligence before pursuing. People that question it are being called unpatriotic which is unfair. This community already allows people to display the American Flag and many do. What is your take on this? Are they breaking the law? What remedies do we have? If they are not, how can we put a hold on this and make it a community based vote not just the BOD. Thank you.

Mister Condo replies:

L.D., my first instinct was to tell you that there is a big difference between the association accepting money from vendors (which is allowed) and individual Board members accepting money (definitely not allowed, sound the alarms!). I asked a friend of mine who practices community association law in our state for a further opinion. Here is what the attorney had to offer:

“The statute you’ve referenced was enacted to prevent bribing board members to influence their official actions.  As you describe what happened, apparently money was given to the association itself rather than for board members to keep personally.  Doing this is not illegal or even uncommon.  For example, some laundry machine services will give condominiums a percentage of the revenue from coin-operated machines used on-site, and some cable or satellite television companies will pay an association a cash stipend to help market their products to incoming purchasers.

Generally, the board does have the power to decide whether to change the common elements or to install something on them, like a flagpole.  The bylaws of some communities may restrict this power, often by capping the dollar amount which can be spent on the change without a unit owner vote.  You should carefully review your association’s bylaws for such a provision and consider talking to an attorney about what rights you may have if it has been violated.”

Sounds like great advice to me. All the best!

Small Condo with Big Governance Issues

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G.M. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I own one unit out of a 4-unit condo. The owner of the other three units has total control of all funds and will not release to me how much money is in the Reserve. He will not tell me how much the monthly expenses are for the building and that all bills are paid up to date or that all commons fees for all units are being paid and are up to date. He is also doing lots of construction on the common space as well as on his personal units. He will not tell me how much of the funds have been used to do the work on the common space. Is this legal?

Mister Condo replies:

G.M., smaller condos like yours can be particularly challenging. The short answer is that as a unit owner, you are entitled to whatever records of the association you care to inspect. That being said, the majority unit owner will always control the vote on any issue before the association and, from what you have told me, is treating the association’s funds as his own. My advice to you is two-fold. If you are going to continue to own one of these four units, you can shut up and play nice, sell, or hire an attorney to defend yourself from this non-cooperative owner. Whether he has done anything illegal or not is hard to say. I would say he isn’t complying with the spirit of the Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act (CIOA), which requires all associations to function in an open environment of transparency, which, clearly, he is not.

If it were I, I would put my unit up for sale and cut my losses. However, if you wish to stay, you have rights under the law but you must take the steps to secure those rights. That means bringing suit against the other unit owner to give you access to association records, bank statements, contractor agreements, bills, etc… That likely means the expense of hiring an attorney to take such action. In such a small living environment as a 4-unit condo, I can’t imagine that will make for the neighborliest of living arrangements. However, if you wish to stay in this condo and you wish to know what’s going on, as you should, you really won’t have any other choice. I wish you all the best!

Right To Inspect Condo Association Contracts

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G.S. from Hartford County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Does Connecticut law mandate that unit owners have a right to get copies of contracts signed by the Association’s Board?

Mister Condo replies:

G.S., as a general rule, all unit owners within an association have a right to inspect any record of the association, which includes contracts entered into by the Board on behalf of the association. The Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as CIOA) is the law that gives this right. However, records are not necessarily free or always available so there may be a fee to inspect the documents and reasonable notice must also be given for the request to inspect the documents. This is out of practicality as most records are stored away in file cabinets and need to be retrieved and prepared prior to inspection. I want to point out that I am not an attorney so if you require a legal opinion beyond my answer here, I strongly recommend you seek out competent legal help to assist you. All the best!

Improper Condo Governance Charged

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J.S. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Our Association BOD has announced unilaterally and unanimously at a Community meeting that all of their discussions on Association issues and business are now being held informally. No face-to-face meetings to discuss matters which require a quorum of Board members to be in attendance. Specific purpose is to discuss and take action on issues without any input or even awareness of the Council of Owners. One BOD member has said publicly that our Association is not a democracy. This is all in the face of the Open meetings rules to encourage BOD transparency rules contained in the HOA’s By-laws and resolutions. There are no public notifications or any meeting notes provided owners from these meetings. Votes, we have been told are also being conducted almost exclusively via email as is much of the discussions. Is this something the Board is allowed to do? Don’t the rules and by-laws prohibit this style of leadership? At the last quarterly meeting, owners were told by a member of a buildings and grounds committee that a $12,000 contract has been approved and signed by the BOD and work is scheduled to begin on building an extended concrete area outside building area plus complete landscaping with the work beginning in the next 30 days (4 weeks prior to the next scheduled quarterly community meeting). Adding insult to injury, the Property manager reports the budget for the last month was $11,000 over the scheduled expenditures with no explanation as to why? What recourse or approach would you recommend taking to delay the outdoor beautification project? If the work is completed prior to the next open meeting, is there any course of action that can be taken prior to the work getting underway and the next meeting occurring? Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and provide options for what can be done hopefully prior to the work being started and before the next open community meeting.

Mister Condo replies:

J.S., Wow! You have a lot going on here! Let me try to break it down into a few key elements and offer some friendly advice. The Board is free to hold meetings as they see fit provided the Board members agree on the methodology. They can make the meeting format as informal as they like. They are also free to vote by email, teleconference, even carrier pigeon if they so choose. They are not free to operate in the dark and they must take minutes of all meetings which must be made available to the unit owners. For this reason alone, most Boards will adhere to a regular meeting schedule where proper notice of meeting is given and proper minutes of meetings are taken. The emails between Board members are part of the public record and must be kept as such, especially if votes are being held by email. Again, for this reason alone, many Boards will opt not to use email for such votes. Transparency isn’t just a good idea; it is the law. The Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as CIOA) outlines the rules and regulations for how community associations are governed in our state.

The specifics of how and why this new project is underway are likely known only to the Board. If it is something that enough unit owners are not in favor of, you should seek an injunction against the Board for taking the action. You will most likely need to hire an attorney to file suit and seek relief. This can be expensive for the unit owners as they will need to find the money to pay for the attorney to assist in the suit and the Board will likely hire an attorney to defend against the suit. If the Board has signed a contract, there may also be expense for breaking the contract. Weigh the pros and cons of such an action before you proceed. It might be less expensive to just accept the improvement than to fight it.

The larger issue here is one of Board training and proper community association governance. I am guessing that this Board is largely untrained and would likely benefit from some education, which can be found at the local Chapter of the Community Association s Institute (http://caict.org/). In fact, they are offering just such a training course very soon. More information can be found at http://www.caict.org/events/event_details.asp?id=534367. The other option is to get some new Board members. Rally the troops and come up with select the folks from within your community who would best serve as Directors. At your next Annual Meeting, simply elect new people who will do a better job of governing the association. If you can’t wait until then, you can call a special meeting of unit owners to remove the Board and elect new Board members. However, you will need to refer to your condo’s governing documents to see how and when to do that. It would be simpler to just elect new Board members at your Annual Meeting. Good luck!

Condo Self Management Laws

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D.K. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

What is the law about self management for a condo association in Connecticut?

Mister Condo replies:

D.K., as far as I know, there aren’t any laws about self-management for condo associations in Connecticut. In fact, many successful condominiums and HOAs are self-managed. They still need to follow state laws about common interest ownership properties which are outlined in laws such as the Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as CIOA) and they need to be mindful that functioning without the help or guidance of a licensed property manager may be challenging but many of the folks I know who serve on the Boards of these properties have told me that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Of course, it takes a group of dedicated volunteers to self-manage a condominium. I know of several self-managed properties who have actually hired on-site property management and maintenance personnel to deal with the day-to-day issues. The difference between this type of association and an association that hires a management company is that the property manager and maintenance personnel work directly for the association and not for a third-party management firm. Another task that is commonly outsourced by self-managed communities is the accounting and bookkeeping tasks. I think that is a great practice as it adds one more layer of protection for the association in safeguarding its assets. Thanks for the question!

Must Notice of Board Meetings Be Served to All Unit Owners?

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J.Z. from Fairfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is there a Connecticut law that says Board meetings need to be posted to let unit members know when happening?

Mister Condo replies:

J.Z., there sure is! The Common Interest Ownership Act, also known as CIOA is a group of rules that include how condo associations must conduct themselves and operate in a highly transparent environment. The spirit of the law is to shed light on the governance process. This includes publishing an agenda of what will be discussed at Board and Annual meetings, where and when the meetings will be held, and also includes a requirement to provide minutes of these meetings to all unit owners upon request. Unit owners have the ability to request all kinds of association records. There may be management fees associated with these requests for information but all of it needs to be available to unit owners. Associations that don’t comply with these laws could find themselves answering to the state’s Department of Consumer Protection who has the task of investigating complaints from unit owners about Boards and Associations that fail to comply with the law. Hope that helps!

Rescheduling the Condo Annual Meeting

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D.L. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Is there a proper procedure for rescheduling an annual association meeting on the day of the meeting? Thanks!

Mister Condo replies:

D.L., there are a few reasons that I can think of for needing to reschedule an Annual Meeting on the day of the meeting. Once the annual meeting is announced all unit owners have a right to attend and should plan on doing so. If the meeting needs to be rescheduled for whatever reason, all of the events that lead up to the meeting are reset to Day 1, meaning a new notice of meeting must be issued and all unit owners given adequate time to prepare to attend the new meeting. In Connecticut, that means at least 5 day’s (one week’s) notice. It is not unusual for the association to give 10 day’s notice just to make sure unit owners who are able and wish to attend can adjust their schedule. Even if well-intentioned, it is not proper for a meeting to be called for on a Monday and then rescheduled to Wednesday of that same week. In that instance, adequate notice was not given and the meeting can be challenged by unit owners. It is always best to follow the proper procedure if a Board or Annual Meeting needs to be rescheduled. Good luck!