J.S. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The President of our condo association is not fulfilling his duties. He basically only enforces rules if they apply to him. He will tow a car if he doesn’t have a spot, but will do nothing if there are illegally parked cars otherwise. Last night he had cars stickered, most of which were legally parked with permits in their windows.
The real issue is that, when the association’s rules were written, there were term limits put into place. When the bylaws were distributed, the page was conspicuously missing. I have the bylaws and the page number actually skips. This guy has been the president for almost 8 years because of this. He has personal ties to our management company so it is nearly impossible to get things done.
My question is, who do I report these issues to? Do I have to file a civil suit or is there a government agency that can assist with this?
Mister Condo replies:
J.S., I am sorry for your problems with your Board President. It is unfortunate when volunteer leaders of community associations abuse their positions in such a way as to cause the types of problems you are describing. There are plenty of things you can do to remedy the situation but there is no government agency that I am aware of to assist you with this. And, really, you don’t need one if you take a few corrective steps on your own and in association with your fellow unit owners who are suffering the same abuse of power that you are describing.
First and foremost, I need to ask how does this person continue to be elected and reelected to your Board? Are there no other volunteer leaders to serve? The simplest move is to just vote him out of office at your earliest convenience, which is very likely your next Annual Meeting. Alternatively, if you are unwilling to wait that long, you can organize a recall election that would have him removed from office sooner. This is a little more difficult but if you consult your condo documents it very likely details how you go about doing so. The Board Secretary is the Board Member who usually assists with such proceedings and gives notice of meeting to all unit owners for the recall. Provided a quorum of unit owners attends the meeting or submits their proxy votes, the recall vote can be held and, if successful, the Board member can be ousted at that time. Like I said, it is a little more involved process and the far easier option is to simply vote the person out of office at your next election cycle.
Your third option will cost some money. That would be for you to contact an attorney who specializes in community association law and see if there is, in fact, legal precedent to bring a lawsuit against the Board, the President, and even the management company. The closest government agency you have to work with is the Department of Consumer Protection, who does, in fact, oversee the licensing of Connecticut’s Property Managers and Property Management companies. If the Property Manager has acted against state laws there may be a penalty to the manager for doing so. Since your complaint is primarily against the Board President, and not the Property Manager, this is very likely not necessary and not part of my recommendation.
Here are some items to keep in mind during this process. First, the Board President is usually elected by fellow Board Members after winning election to the Board. That means you are removing him from the Board, not just as Board President. Also, whoever you vote in to replace him will take a seat on the Board, not as Board President but simply as a Board Member. The remaining Board Members will then decide by vote on the officer positions of the Board. Most likely, your President-Elect or Vice President will assume the roles of the President. You have made no mention of other Board members in your question. I certainly hope you have a full slate of Board members serving at this time. I hope that helps. All the best!