B.M. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have a condo board president who has conflicts of interest in that he and relatives have investment units within the complex. He has also acted as a listing real estate agent for a unit within the complex. He has also directed contractors to do certain work on trees around investment unit and directed the manager to keep cost under the $5,000 cap before we have to make unit owners aware of expenditure.
At our most recent Annual Meeting, there were 2 Board positions open. (I’ve kept track of them for a long time.) He denied the 2nd one was open, because if that position was lost by one of his buddies on the board he would lose control of the 3 of the 5 votes on the board and lose his position as president. The Property Manager sat there and didn’t say a word.
How do you rectify this kind of situation? It’s odious.
Mister Condo replies:
B.M., I am always disheartened to hear tales of dishonesty, perceived or real, from condominium unit owners about their democratically elected leaders. If your governing documents call for a 5-person Board, then your Board president has no right to not allow for election of all 5 Board members as their terms come up for election. The Property Manager, by the way, works for the association by way of the Board. The Property Manager’s job is to sit there and observe, not take action. In fact, it could be seen as a breach of duty if the Property Manager does interfere with the business of the election of Board Members so let’s agree that the Property Manager has done nothing wrong here.
Your first assertion is that the Board president has a conflict of interest. I am not sure that I agree. It is quite common for investors and family members of investors to own multiple units within an association. It is not a conflict of interest to do so. It is also not a conflict of interest for the Board president to act as a listing or purchasing agent for units within the association. As Board president, he is the executive in charge of the Board and may be responsible for hiring contractors. If keeping the cost beneath the $5,000 cap is his way of getting work done and it is not in violation of the governing documents, I really see no foul here at all.
What concerns me the most is that you feel the elections were hampered or hindered by the Board president in that he refused to allow the proper number of candidates run for vacant seats. If true, this is a violation of the association’s governance rules and you, as a unit owner, can bring suit against the Board and demand that the elections be held as soon as possible. Speaking of elections, why in the world would the majority of unit owners continue to elect this unit owner to serve on the Board? If he is doing half the things you accuse him of, why doesn’t someone point it out the next time he is up for election and simply vote him out of office? The same is true for his “buddies” who also serve on the Board. They are volunteers from within your association who have been democratically elected by you and your fellow unit owners. If they aren’t doing their jobs in the best interest of the association, vote them out and replace them with volunteer leaders who will. Of course, if they continue to get reelected, association members have no one but themselves to blame for their continued poor performance. Good luck!