Z.Z. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our condo managing trustee does not send a regular itemized budget. I feel he consults with the lawyer when he wishes and it’s not necessarily in our best interest. What is the typical way information is shared about budgets and consults? I’d like to hear his conversations with the lawyer or receive an update. There are only a few owners in our building so we are all trustees. We recently had a massive fire and everything gets filtered through the managing trustee. How much is his right to be efficient and how much is this about trying to exclude us?
Mister Condo replies:
Z.Z., I am sorry for your loss in the fire. I am sure that was devastating to your small community. Smaller associations like yours face many challenges that are particularly challenging due to the size of the association. However, managing trustees are not given the power to operate in a vacuum. Budgets, minutes from meetings, contracts with the association, and much more are all records of the association. As such, they must be made available to any member of the association who wishes to inspect them. You may simply request a copy of the budget if you wish to inspect or you may request to view the budget wherever the records of the association are kept. There may be a fee to do so but the records must be made available.
As far as the lawyer’s consultation, it really depends on what is being discussed. Again, association business that is being paid for by the association should be made available to any member of the association. If the trustee has privately hired the attorney to advise only him, that conversation may be private. My guess is that it is the former. Simply ask to be copied in writing about these conversations. Keep in mind that having the lawyer offer written comments on all that he or she is asked could substantially drive up the fees, which are shared by all members of the association. That is likely the reason these conversations are between the managing trustee and the attorney.
If you feel the managing trustee is not working in the best interest of the community, it may be time for a new managing trustee. Your condo documents likely detail the governance process and election of the managing trustee. Good luck!