L.R. from Litchfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Property manager has requested some residents to nominate board members that he has chosen. He is controlling board members rather than doing what he is told. Past boards have continued to ignore the problems and stated off the record that he is not managing and the community has deteriorated but no one has been willing to terminate him. The newest board president was chosen by him and is now trying to stifle a board member who is raising ethical questions. He has begun requesting votes on issues via email to board members but is suppressing the replies so no one sees them.
Mister Condo replies:
L.R., sorry to learn of your community’s troubles. Deteriorating common elements are not pleasant to live with and it sounds like there are no positive plans being made to remedy the situation. If what you have stated about the property manager is true your Board really needs to take action sooner rather than later to remedy the situation. If you feel you can document and prove your allegations you might want to send a complaint to the State Attorney General’s office as the practice of voting by email and suppressing the replies is a questionable activity and may be illegal. Regardless of what path you and the Board take, I do have some practical advice you can use immediately.
Property managers are hired by the Board to conduct the day to day business of the Board. Their power is extended to them through the Board. If that power is abused, the Board needs to take action and remove that property manager which they can do in several ways. The easiest is to simply not renew the property manager’s contract and hire a new property manager. If the property manager has violated the terms of the contract the Board can terminate for just cause. If the property manager is breaking the law there is sufficient just cause to fire him.
Board members are volunteers from within the community. They need to behave ethically or they also need to be removed. Unlike a paid professional like your property manager, they are all volunteers, democratically elected by you and your fellow homeowners. If they need support or additional training they should seek out their local chapter of the Community Associations Institute which they can do online at http://www.caict.org. They should also be prepared to seek legal advice from a qualified community association attorney of which we have many in the state. A complete list can be found at http://www.caict.org/?page=Directory#Attorney – Law Firms. There is simply no excuse for a community to be bullied or taken advantage of by a property manager. However, if the community takes no action against this culprit, it can blame only itself for not taking action. All the best!