C.M. from Bristol County, Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I moved into a very nice 12-unit condo last September. Most of the people living here are retired. Apparently, the manager is negligent, kind of a bully, and always has a reason for not doing something in a timely manner. Another fairly new homeowner and I are getting very involved. (She was voted to the board last year when someone passed away.). Another board member just passed, so there is an opening. No one knows anything about this man, including what his contract says or when it expires. We have asked him for all contracts, including his and all other pertinent paperwork. He said no problem, but so far, nothing. Also, we pay the highest condo fees in the city, as far as I can see, but there’s only about $2800 in the reserve for any unforeseen problems. Because of the corona virus he keeps putting off our annual meeting, which was due in May. (We have a nice common room with plenty of room to social distance). I can’t believe that they have let this go on for so long. No one wants to have to hire an attorney, but I think we may have to. What do you think? Thank you!
Mister Condo replies:
C.M., I think you are on the right path to get some answers. A small association like yours can be perfectly charming on the outside and still have some major housekeeping needed on the inside. COVID-19 has created a lot of chaos for Boards and condo owners alike with elections, meetings, and other activities being set aside until it is safe to meet in person. However, the Board, not the management company, makes those decisions. The manager is simply an agent for the Board. If you wish to meet and feel it is safe to do so, you can certainly call a meeting. You might also be able to meet by teleconference or Zoom if your by-laws and local laws allow it. Some associations have even held their annual meetings outdoors (weather permitting). All unit owners, including Board members, have a right to inspect any contract that the association has entered into. The management contract is no exception. The management company may charge a small fee to prepare the contract for viewing or for making copies but they may not deny anyone the viewing of the contract. I would encourage patience, safety, and vigilance to correct your issues but I think you are well on the right track. Regardless of what the current contract says, there is no reason to renew the contract of a manager who is doing an unsatisfactory job, regardless of attitude. Without knowing more about your financial data, I cannot offer you any advice on your Reserve Fund other than to say that sounds awfully low for a 12-unit association. $2800 would hardly cover a paint job on a small building let alone a roof, parking lot, and any other amenities the association needs to maintain. Stay the course and get to the bottom of this. I am confident that you will get the info you need and make the right decisions when the time comes. Good luck!