Q. Our condominium is about 30 years old. Some of the first floor units have installed small patios. I read in your column that owners cannot use common ground for their own. But over the years our board has looked the other way and ignored such patios. Recently, a new owner complained about the construction of one such patio because her neighbor’s cooking smoke was coming into her unit. She questioned why other units were allowed to have their own patios since the documents do not allow private use of the common grounds. The directors took an attitude of “leave us alone and live with the smoke.”
Since the board is neglectful in enforcing the rules, we are beginning to have a patchwork of violations. Many homes have patio furniture, large flower pots, grills and smokers, and some have awnings and umbrellas. The board takes a “do as you please” attitude. Since the owners do not want the job and problems, most of the violators continue to break the rules. I ask why these people get reelected.
Until your owners understand that they have an obligation to others in the community to serve, you are going to have the same problems. Someone in your condominium must step up and begin to try to organize and convince others to take on the duties by becoming candidates or you will never recover. Some must say that they are not happy with the current board and they want to go back to the basics and start enforcing the rules. Maybe that person is you. Why not start knocking on doors and ask neighbors if they are happy with the current board’s actions? The greatest privilege members have is to become a candidate and serve their fellow neighbors. Yes, it is a duty but it is a privilege.
Q. Our condominium board has raised some fees, but not all. When we ask why it is changing some and not others, members say that the old fee schedule was not fair. They said the larger units are worth more and use up more of the condominium’s services. They say units that are worth more since they are larger should shoulder more of the responsibility to pay more. We now have a class warfare pitting smaller units against larger units. It has divided our condominium and we do not know how to correct the issue. What is wrong with our board and members?
The association must be operated by the rule established in the documents and statutes. The board does not have the right to just change the budget collection fee schedule because they appeal to one group and not the other. Fee payment percentages are published in the documents, as in other official papers. I assume that there are more smaller than larger units and this board is seeking to be reelected by catering to the majority. However, this action is improper and you will have to either file a written complaint with the state or sue the board. It is a difficult problem, but you must take action to have your rights. A majority cannot rule the few. Q. Our newly elected board has appointed two unit owners as finance officers to consult with the board. They were not elected as directors. Is this appointment proper and if one or two of the directors meets with these officers, is it considered a board meeting?
The board is allowed to seek advice from professionals or non-professionals. They can hire outside guidance or seek volunteers from the members to provide oversight and advice. Even if they were not elected as directors, they can be named as an officer, vice officer or a committee member. Directors may meet with the appointed officers and it would not be considered a board meeting as long as a majority of the elected directors are not in attendance. At a board meeting these appointees do not have a vote, but can provide reports or advice to the directors. These appointed or contracted people can even be compensated.