S.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our building has a contentious owner who has hired a lawyer to represent him. His lawyer has written to the Board advising of this representation of his client. Meanwhile, the owner continues to bombard the Board with requests for historical documentation. Can we request that all communication on this issue be from his lawyer to the Board? It would certainly be more civil!!
Mister Condo replies:
S.L., I am sorry that your community is on the receiving end of a contentious owner. I appreciate you using the word “contentious” as I get the feeling there are some stronger words to describe your feeling towards this individual. Unit owners have lots of rights and requesting association records is certainly one of them. However, most states allow for the association to charge a fee for such requests and control the environment where such information is reviewed. Also, the association can mandate that these requests be made in writing. There is no need for anyone to speak with this unit owner about these requests. Since this unit owner has retained counsel, may I assume that the association has as well? If not, this may be a good time to do so. Let the attorneys handle the legal minutia so that the Board can get on with taking care of the rest of the business of the association.
Of course, there will be extra expense to the association for attorney’s fees but this will be spread out amongst all unit owners, including the unit owner creating the need for the expense. Perhaps these increased costs will make this person think twice about bombarding the association with requests. If not, the association just needs to adsorb the expense as it is part of doing business in today’s litigious society. I have an attorney friend who says, “In prehistoric times, rivals beat each other over the head with clubs to determine a winner. Today they beat each other with attorney’s fees”. He may be on to something…
I have a question for you, S.L.. Has anyone spoken with this individual about what the underlying concern is? Did they buy a unit and then get hit with a special assessment? Did they try to add a second pet only to learn there was a one pet rule? What is driving this bombardment of information requests? Perhaps a simple talk from the Board President or other member could allay some of this problem. If not, these requests are likely to continue. Civility aside, it may be a more practical approach. Good luck!