G.F. from Grafton County, New Hampshire writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We have three night-time security lights on our association common area property. One is along our beach area, one is at the head of our boat day dock and one is in our courtyard common area. There is an electric meter and breaker box that is only for theses lights and the cost of the lighting is paid for via association dues. The problem is that the meter and the breaker box are attached to one of the association member’s cottage. Permission for this meter/box placement was given by the owner of the cottage some 25+ years ago when the lights were initially installed. Ownership of that cottage has changed hands and the new owner (grandson of the previous owner) wants that meter/box removed from his cottage. We are in the process of getting bids for this, but is it taking time. The issue is that the new owner shuts off the lights (different lights at different times but mainly the light at the dock because he indicates that it shines in his bedroom window and he can’t see the stars) via the breaker switches in the box on his cottage. He indicates that he has a right to do this because the box is on this cottage. The Board of Directors feel that he should not be controlling these lights as we did not give him the authority to do so. Turning the lights back on by a Board member has become contentious at time as the owner becomes very protective of his cottage. In this situation who has the authority to control the lights? The cottage owner or a person who has the authority (a Board Member).
Mister Condo replies:
G.F., it is unfortunate that the security lights are powered by a breaker box under control of an association member. This is not uncommon but it has created a problem for your association because this recalcitrant unit owner isn’t obeying the directive of the Board. You have two options. The most obvious is to have the power diverted away from the unit owner, which is the remedy the Board is pursuing. The second is to seek a court order (injunction) forcing the unit owner to conform. That second option is likely unreasonable as the cost and time involved would hardly be worth the effort. My advice is to ask nicely if the unit owner will keep the power on (he likely will not) and work quickly to reroute the power to the association’s control. Difficult people are difficult to manage. Take the power away from the difficult person and the problem will be solved. All the best!