J.D. from Palm Beach county, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our last condo meeting was a disaster. The president and one board member have been bullying and intimidating me, harassing my guests all year. They are a new board and think they can get away with everything, blah blah, you know the story. They called the cops on me and another resident at the meeting to have us removed saying we were causing disruption. 1st Question: I recorded the meeting and the board member was very disrespectful to me saying things like “I’m not talking to you”, making false allegations and especially revealing that they are working on a legal “letter of conduct” to send me, along with legal actions to silence me. They are claiming that I am the reason why other owners are complaining and showing up at the meeting. They called the cops, told us to leave and made a police report. How concerned should I be? There was another owner at the meeting that was very loud and disrespectful to the president, can they say it was me? I’m working with a small group of owners in the building to try to stop her from bullying everyone she doesn’t like. Q. 2 = Is it possible to sue a board member individually for slander and bullying? Should I sue her as a condo owner even though she is on the BOD? No, we can’t remove the current board because nobody wants the job. Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
J.D., it is unfortunate that you and other condo association members feel bullied or intimidated by any other member of your association, let alone a Board Member or President. However, I am going to call you out on your final comment – “No, we can’t remove the current board because nobody wants the job.”. Of course, you can remove any Board member through either recall or at the next opportunity to vote them out of office! “Nobody wants the job” is a cop out! If no other member of the association is willing to serve you are not going to fix this problem. Do you think this person is going to magically change who they are? They are not. You need caring and committed members to serve on your Board. If there are none to do so, you have a much larger problem. You can expect the bullying and intimidation to continue as long as this person is allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged. In fact, it will likely get worse. Volunteering to serve on the Board is the only way you will see change. Otherwise, expect police reports to continue and ongoing escalation of bad behavior. Rally the troops and find candidates to serve. Only by changing the leadership will you change the situation. All the best!
1 thought on “Bullying Condo Board President Goes Unchallenged”
I agree the long-term solution would be a different president, who establishes civility and fairness. Since you say it is a new board, it could be hard to rouse up enough support to replace them at this juncture, and as to running for a board seat, there may not even be an election coming up soon, and doubt they’d appoint you to a vacancy. Conceptually, you could sue an individual director for harassment, but it isn’t something all that simple to obtain “justice.” They probably have D&O, that can cover their defense, while you have to pay a big retainer and hourly fee that will mount up fast, and even if you have the money, a lawsuit can become consumptive. They may not actually take actions they warn, but you could beforehand (or after if they do) seek out an attorney that is dedicated to unit owner representation, in your county or circuit court jurisdiction, and obtain a knowledgeable consult. Sounds like they could send a cease and desist. Not sure what the issues are that is in contention. You can also look up online records for any attorney(s) you are considering, to see how their lawsuits have shaken out. The most important thing is that this needs to be deescalated. What could surprise you, is that other unit owners may not want to get involved, as in being supportive of your cause, or will back off, esp if they sense they will receive the ire of the board. Also, some condo docs require a notice prior to filing a lawsuit, but your attorney will spend time reviewing your condo docs. Hope it won’t come to that. Bullies are pretty common, and other people often don’t sense how bad it is, unless (or until) they are on the receiving end of it. So it may happen that over time the bullies on the board will trample enough people that you will eventually garner support to give them the heave ho, it might be the most cost effective thing to do to let them hang themselves, but it could mean eating a big piece of humble pie in the meantime that they feel they “won” by getting you to “shut your mouth” and silence. you. I’ve noticed at our complex, most don’t care as much about rules and governance, for instance trying to get a rule-breaking board on track, as they do their condo fees (ie not going up, even if they should), assessments, and handling individual gripes, worthy or not (rather than the betterment of the association property). Find a strategy and work it!