H.R. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can the super of the Condo be a member of the Board of Directors, being also an owner? Can the wife of the superintendent in the condominium (she is a unit owner) be a member of the Board of Directors?
Mister Condo replies:
H.R., both of your questions come under the category of what I like to call “full disclosure”. My answer may surprise you. As long as the unit owners that voted him into office were aware that he was the superintendant of the property, I don’t see a problem with him serving on the Board and being the superintendant. As long as the unit owners that voted her into office were aware that she was the wife of the superintendant of the property, I don’t see a problem with her serving on the Board and being the wife of the superintendant. Letting everyone know, in advance, of the possible conflict of interest from serving as a volunteer and having a spouse or one’s self get paid by the volunteer Board is full disclosure.
Anything less than full disclosure warrants a closer look and may be construed as an act of fraud, which brings me to my second observation. This is a potentially dangerous combination. Service to the association as a Board Member is done on a strictly voluntary basis. You run for election, you win, you serve. You are never compensated for your service. Employment is an entirely different circumstance. You apply for the job, you are evaluated, you are hired, your work is monitored and based on the success of your job performance you get to keep working. Serving on the Board for which you are employed creates a serious conflict of interest and is not ideal for the employee or employer. Further, the employer/employee relationship faces outside scrutiny from unit owners who may question the working relationship between the superintendant and the Board.
On the flip side, I do know of several communities where this type of husband/wife dynamic is in place and the community is thriving. The community benefits from having an active member of their condo association always on site and overseeing all of the projects. They basically have a 24/7 employee always ready to do the work of the association. You really can’t get a more caring worker than a resident and Board member who is working in the best interest of the community in which he and his spouse live.
So, there are plusses and there are minuses. As long as all parties involved display “full disclosure” and the Board keeps an active watch on the situation, I think all parties can find the relationship beneficial. However, if left unchecked, a community could find itself on the short end of bad behavior or collusion. As always, vigilance and diligence are crucial.