P.V. from Virginia writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Very recently, I decided to update my failing heater and AC unit. I decided to buy them together as it was a better deal financially and figured it would just be easier to replace both units at the same time. Within the last year, our condo president decided to make a rule that when any maintenance person or contractor has to access common areas, said unit owner must submit to the board the date, type of work being done and the name and license number of the contractor doing the work. I, myself, am on the board. Board members agreed. This rule was put into place mainly to ensure that more than 1 unit is not doing maintenance on the same day. In a private conversation that I was having with the president, I alerted her that I would be buying a new HVAC unit. She immediately was adamant about not having it done and that it was “ridiculous” to replace working equipment (even though I was having problems with 20+ year old units). I gave my written info to both the treasurer and the president and kept a copy for myself (I am the secretary). The president emailed back stating that she didn’t like anyone going on the roof too much since they have to come back in the spring to hook it up anyway…just have the a/c unit mounted then…well, yes, I could’ve done that however it would have been approximately $300.00 more since it wouldn’t be bought as a bundle. This info was forwarded to the president (per HVAC contractor) who has done work for the condo and is very reputable. I then received an email from the president stating that the people above me needs to be notified (this is news to me since their unit didn’t need to be accessed) but I did notify them as a courtesy and they replied “ok, got it” Anyway, no more emails saying I couldn’t have this done so I figured everything was a go…except when the crew got out to our place the hatch to roof was closed and LOCKED! I called, texted and knocked on president’s door multiple times…nothing. Finally, the third time I knocked on door, she yelled through the door, without opening it “the board didn’t give you permission”. I replied “I’m on the board and the treasurer said he had no problem with the issue.” Of course, a very ugly argument ensued and she had absolutely no valid reason for locking the roof other than she disagreed with my buying an A/C in cooler weather. As a condo president, isn’t this a clear case of “abuse of power” or “control issues”? She did finally give me the key to open hatch. However, even the fact that she is the only one who has the keys I find a bit odd. I feel like I’m the tenant and she’s the landlord. Any advice? She is trying to discredit me and get me kicked off board.
Mister Condo replies:
P.V., this is an unfortunate disagreement between you and the Board President. She is clearly trying to do what she feels is best for the association but she has overstepped her authority, in my opinion. That being said, it would appear that your association is self-managing, meaning there is no intermediary like a Property Manager to hold something as important as roof access keys. The $300 you were trying to save is worth discussing but it really isn’t the business of the association to save you money. What you needed to do, in my opinion, was to submit your proposal, get full agreement from the entire Board and avoided this unnecessary confrontation. You took back channels with only yourself and the Treasurer in agreement on the work and the President struck back. Lose / Lose for all of you and the poor contractor’s work team stuck in the middle. Of course, as a Board member, you and the other Board members have elected this person to be your President. The President has some executive powers (and the keys, apparently) so it might make sense to see if another of the elected volunteer leaders wish to assume the duties of President at the next election. If not, and she continues to serve, you can expect more of the same. All the best!