S.O. from Toronto, Canada writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our strata president had her hardwood flooring upgrade secretly paid for by the ownership of our strata. How can we get her to pay it back? Her friends on council voted to pay because the president threatened to sue the strata.
Mister Condo replies:
S.O., I am sorry to hear that some impropriety may have occurred at your strata association. (First off, for my American readers, “strata” is another word for condo and “council” is another word for Board, commonly used in parts of Canada or Australia.) I am guessing you are from one of those two places. Regardless of where you reside, abuses of power by Board members, including the President, should not be tolerated and usually lead to removal from office and/or legal action. Your strata governing documents likely outline the procedure for taking action against the offender. That being said, there may be some mitigating circumstances to consider before any action is taken. You mention that this president was threatening to sue the strata. Was it because of another incident? Was the hardwood flooring offered as settlement for that suit? Without first-hand knowledge of what actually transpired, it is difficult for me to give you solid advice. If this was a simple case of the Board approving an expenditure that it shouldn’t have, then the Board needs to be held accountable. For most associations, that would lead to a recall of the sitting members and replacement with new members who will do a better job of looking out for the association’s interests. The new Board would likely seek help from the association’s attorney to recover the money that was spent improperly. That may include bringing suit against the President, who would have been voted out of office at that time. For many associations, the cost of pursuing the remedy may outweigh the cost of the damage done. In that case, simply vote out the Board at the next election and replace with better council members. Good luck!