Q: The owner of the management company that has a contract with our building is running for the board because some of the owners asked the manager to run. Is there anything wrong with the manager running for the board? It seems to me that this would be a conflict of interest.
L.S., Miami Beach
A: This could be a bad situation. While there is no legal conflict, there is a potential conflict of interest.
Few qualifications need to be met to become a candidate for a condominium board. Unless your condo documents define additional requirements, almost any person could serve as a director.
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The statutes do not limit candidacy to owners. You could have not only owners but renters, nonresidents, part-time residents, even people off the street. In general, a candidate must be at least 18 years old, not have a criminal record, and not be delinquent on condo fees.
Sometimes there are situations that require professionals to serve on the board. Not only have I seen managers but I’ve seen attorneys, accountants and engineers as directors. If your manager wants to serve, I suggest that another person be selected to perform the management duties. However, I have served not only as the manager but as secretary or treasurer because certain job duties required me to perform those functions. What you want are the best-qualified people to serve as your directors.
Q: When the condominium president changes the management company to the company she works for, is it a conflict of interest? Is it legal?
A: The board of directors holds total responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the association. The president does not have the power to sign or eliminate contracts unless the board has approved that action. Your question indicates that the president acted alone. The president alone does not have that power.
As for engaging the management company she works for, that could be a problem, but if it is disclosed it would not necessarily be a conflict of interest.
Think about it for a minute. You have a professional manager acting as your president with professional knowledge of operations; maybe it makes sense that she would want her company with its professional experience taking care of the management duties. As a professional, she would have a higher responsibility because she is licensed.
Q: I live in a condominium where the manager has been on the board for several years. Recently the association attorney was appointed to the board to fill a vacant seat. Recently one of the units owned by the association was sold by quitclaim deed to a trust that includes the president and the attorney. The association received pennies on the dollar of the value for this unit. How can we live in a community where board members are using their position for personal gain?
M.P., Palm Harbor
A: Your situation illustrates a common thread in the questions that I have received in recent months — accusations that a board is operating improperly. You’re claiming that board members are using their position for personal gain, which is a violation of the state laws.
I answer your question with this question: How did they get elected? You say that they have controlled the board for several years. The members in your community either support them or there is too much apathy among the owners. Once a year you have an annual meeting to elect directors. If the members vote in the old directors, you need to blame the members, not the board.
No one wants to step up and volunteer to be a leader. Until you and the other members understand that you must take action, your board will remain in power. You must get your neighbors to volunteer and elect a new board.
You claim that board members are working for their personal gain. You can either file a lawsuit against them and prove this accusation or you can get your neighbors to elect new members to the board.