How to Keep Condo Boards From Giving You a Hard Time
People who purchase condominiums rarely understand that unless they're lucky they could end up with a Board of Directors that can create problems for them.
Few people realize that condos are governed by special laws due to the fact that they are non profit corporations.
Many of these laws eliminate some of the rights of individuals, and leave them at the mercy of those who are charged with making decisions that can either positively or negatively affect them.
For these reasons, it’s important for people to understand what they are doing when they contract to buy a Florida condo and do whatever they can to protect themselves from becoming targeted by association directors..
Read and Learn the Documents
Potential buyers are always given the opportunity to read the governing documents of a community before they make their purchase. They then are asked to sign papers stating that they have read and understand them.
However, these papers are usually long, complicated, written in legalize and difficult for most people to understand.
Furthermore, there is usually only a limited amount of time for buyers to read them, they are emotionally stressed, are in the process of making an expensive purchase and are also involved in the business of packing and moving.
Many people also assume that what is in these documents won’t affect them. Most just don’t want to be bothered.
A committee has given them the basic rules and answered any questions they have, so they think this takes care of what they need to know.
These things don’t even come close to being what people should do about their documents if they want to be able to protect themselves when they become residents.
Those who take the time to read the governing documents or have an attorney review and explain them take the first step in protecting themselves in the event a board tries to deny them the few rights they have!
At the very least, even after moving into their new homes, people should make sure to read these papers.
People should never assume that all governing documents say the same things, because they do not. So, even if they are moving from one condo to another, the rules of the game can vary significantly.
For example, one might limit the amount of money a board can spend without a community vote, while another might not set any limits at all!
Run for the Board
One of the best ways people can protect themselves is to run for a seat on the Board of Directors.
While doing this does mean that you will be taking on certain responsibilities, it also means that you will be able to vote on issues that other residents will have no say in and also protect your own interests.
For example, some state laws allow boards to borrow as much money as they like. However, if your documents don’t have spending limits and you are a director, you can vote against excessive expenditures and encourage other directors to vote with you so that residents are not unnecessarily burdened financially.
Also, if your President has become difficult, you can demote him down to the position of director so that he loses most of his authority.
This also protects residents.
Recognize Difficult Boards
State law provides that Boards of Directors are supposed to put the best interests of the community before their own, but this rarely happens.
People who never have been in charge of anything find themselves in powerful positions that give them the rights to manage large budgets, employ contractors, enforce rules and demand that residents behave in specific ways.
In some instances, this power goes to their heads, and they become little “Hitlers”.
They publicly shame residents, turn people against one another, manipulate and abuse older residents and try to take rights away from the very people who voted them into office.
Often they get other Directors to support them, so the entire board becomes malicious.
When this happens, your best defense is to make sure you follow every rule and do what you can to steer clear of your board.
Speak Up Only When Necessary
Most Boards don’t like it when residents speak up at meetings. They will do everything to shut them up because they do not want people to get in the way of their agendas.
It is common for them to lie, manipulate and misrepresent, but when people speak up, they let other residents know that they are not being given the whole story.
So, while you have the right to speak, you should always bear in mind that you have to live with the people who are in charge.
If you cross them or make them look bad, they will do everything possible to make life miserable for you.
Most cell phones today have the ability to make voice recordings. It is always a good idea to use this function when you go to board meetings because doing this
- helps you to remember what was said,
- lets board members know that what they said will be on record and
- allows you to email the recordings to residents who were unable to attend meetings.
Most state statutes allow residents to videotape or record board meetings as long as doing so does not get in the way of meetings and as long as the board is advised that recordings are being made.
Recordings are great to have because they can be replayed for directors who have lied to residents about various issues.
For example, one director told people at different meetings that the community had anywhere from 10 to 45 leaking roofs but the real count was 15. This proved that the director was being less than honest.
Hire a Lawyer
Nobody wants to become involved in litigation, but letting it be known that you keep an attorney on retainer is reason enough for most board members to tiptoe carefully around you.
Although boards are protected against lawsuits, they are not covered 100%. There still are certain behaviors that can create problems for them, so knowing that you have an attorney can make them think twice about what they might say or try to do.
Hiring a lawyer is a last resort, but can be a good idea if you feel your board is harassing you.
Defending yourself against boards begins the second you are handed a copy of your condominiums declarations
It is then that you should decide whether you really want to own a particular condominium or not.
Always bear in mind that no matter how good the situation may seem it just takes one malicious board member to create problems for you.
Something as small as an extra chair on your patio or a pot of flowers hanging off of your eave can make you a target.
However, if you don't provide a reason, your board cannot touch you!
If you live in a condo, do you think these tips will help you?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Sondra Rochelle