A.C. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Is it normal/ethical/legal for the treasurer of a condo association to be doing the work around the commons? I thought people were paid to come out and do jobs.
Mister Condo replies:
A.C., since I am not an attorney, I offer no legal opinions in this column. When any member of the association does work on behalf of the association, there is unnecessary risk involved. If they get hurt or do faulty work that causes injury or death, the association would likely get sued and not have coverage. As you point out, the association has a budget for paying licensed and insured contractors to perform work for the association. While I am sure that the Board member doing the work is well-intentioned, the “free” labor usually creates more problems than the money saved by the association. It would be better for all involved if all work done for the association be handled by a licensed and insured worker. All the best!
5 thoughts on “Condo Board Member Working in Common Areas Creates Risk”
It depends what is being done by the volunteer. If the person is changing a lightbulb, closing an umbrella, seeking information as to why an alarm is going off, picking up boxes or garbage that homeowners are not disposing of properly, or checking on matters reported then these activities are what good homeowners should be doing in the community they live.
H., it isn’t just a question of coverage. It is a question of policy. Volunteering to serve on the Board is not the same as volunteering to “work” for the association. Unlicensed and uninsured labor is not in the association’s best interest and creates risk. Better to hire a contractor and address the cost issue to the association than have a volunteer injured and a claim made against the association’s insurance, especially in these days of escalating premiums. Insurance for Directors and Officers (D&O) covers the Board Member for business decisions made while in office. I am unaware of any policy that covers personal injury while performing volunteer labor on behalf of the association. All the best!
So are you saying, if there is a liability and the board member mitigates a danger and the possibility of liability, it should not be done? So if a light is out creating a dangerous situation, the community should wait until the contractor can come out or if water is running and causing a flood, again let the water cause more damage and liability to the community, until someone arrives? I think matters should be weighed. Some matters do not need licensed contractors just common sense and a sense of caring for the community. A real affirmation of gratitude needs to be conveyed to the board member. I wish we had that kind of dedication in my community.
An afterthought, it is not illegal nor unethical to do what is right. It is definitely not normal because we are filled with people who do not care and always criticize those who do good. What this board member did was above normal and should be thanked instead of criticized. The person who submitted this concern should evaluate their own values because this person is not concerned about the board member or liability but just an attack at someone doing good.
There are workers compensation policies called “if any,” that can cover board members and volunteers, you can look into the parameters available and limitations of such coverage. A board member getting up on a high ladder to install a light bulb in an emergency could fall and get seriously injured – then what… most complexes that have a contract with a property management company, they also provide emergency after-hours assistance, or the association could have a licensed, insured contractor, such as a ‘handyman’ with a HIC (home improvement contractor) for such tasks if they don’t.