T.J. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
The association secretary is not paying bills and won’t issue statement of our money’s whereabouts for over two years. Elevator company won’t come because of nonpayment. Snow plow man not paid and won’t come either. The committee members get paid for all supposed work being done and no meetings have been held or open to owners in two years. Who do we contact? Supposedly, we are always broke in our common charges and she won’t say where the money all goes. Who do we report this to?
Mister Condo replies:
T.J., I am sorry for the problems you find yourself and your condominium association in right now. I am not an attorney so I cannot offer legal advice, which it would appear you and your fellow unit owners are going to need. My recommendation is to contact a qualified attorney who will guide you through the steps of getting your association back in order. Let me offer a few pieces of friendly advice to get you started.
Condominium associations are governed by democratically elected volunteers from within the association. The condominium’s governing documents clearly spell out the process by which these folks are elected and what their duties are once they agree to serve. It sounds like the Treasurer isn’t paying bills or generating reports of where the money is and how it is being spent. If funds have been stolen, it may be time to call local law enforcement. Stealing from the association is a crime and is punishable with jail time if convicted.
The Board, as a whole, is responsible for the overall governance of the association. This includes managing the common assets. If the Board cannot or will not produce financial reports or hold meetings that are open to the general membership of other unit owners, they are operating outside of the law. The Department of Consumer Protection may be interested to hear your story of illegal governance. You can learn more at their website at https://portal.ct.gov/dcp. Again, an attorney can help you with the particulars.
From what you have described, it is very likely that you will need to find new volunteer leaders from within the community who are willing to volunteer their time and serve on the Board. Now is the time to rally new volunteers so that your association can hold a proper election and get back on its feet. If money has been stolen it is possible that the association has insurance to claim for reimbursement. It is also possible that special assessments or increased common fees may be necessary to get the community back on sound financial footing. As you have seen, contractors who don’t get paid will not be visiting your association any time soon. Your association will have to have money available to pay these workers if they are to perform the work needed by the association.
This may not be a pleasant experience for you and your fellow unit owners, T.J.. However, I am confident that once you have solved this problem you and your fellow unit owners will not tolerate a lack of openness and transparency from future Boards. I wish you all the best!