P.A. from Bristol County, Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a small condo community of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Several of the units are considered affordable units, one of which I live in. It seems when we have an election no one can get in because they do the election by percent of interest in your condo. I have a lesser percent because I am affordable. However, one of the board members who does not live here owns two condos. If I figure this right he has the largest interest because he owns a two-bedroom with the garage and he owns a one-bedroom that he rents both units. It seems to me that he has the board sewed up because of his interest and owning the two units even though he doesn’t live here. I question the management company regarding this interest and when we vote it’s not a vote per unit it’s so many percentage points for each unit and he told me it was the law. Could you please answer to me if it is the law and send me something so I can show him? As it stands right now, no one can run against the present board and it’s a little frustrating to myself and the other unit owners.
Mister Condo replies:
P.A., I can only imagine the frustration of you and the other unit owners who seemingly have very little say in the governance of the condo association. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. Further, without inspecting your governance documents, it is impossible for me to offer you my opinion on this matter. I will say that it is not common for voting rights to be divided into shares as you have described. Even if a single unit owner owned two units, that certainly wouldn’t give him a lock on the election process. It is typical for each unit to have one vote when it comes to elections and the ratification of the annual budget, regardless of size of unit or number of units owned. I say “typical” but not “always”. It is quite possible that your documents were written in such a way as to weight the value of each vote according to the percentage of unit ownership formula or some other formula. What you need to do is to review your condo’s governance documents to see what they say on the matter. I have no doubt that the voting rights of each unit are clearly spelled out. If you feel the Property Manager is mistaken in his/her interpretation of the documents, you should bring it to the attention of the Board. If the Board isn’t following the outlined procedures for voting, it may be time to seek the opinion of a qualified local attorney to find out what your next steps are. It is possible that the Board is doing everything correctly but you have a right to exercise all of your powers under both the governing documents and Massachusetts State law. All the best!