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Living in a Condominium

 
 
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 09:29 am
Has anyone here ever served on a condominium association board? My wife and I live in a condominium with about 100 units. We have a new association board. Recently, we have had, and others have had, tremendous trouble getting maintenance for their units (getting a plumber sent, etc.), even in cases where according to our bylaws, the association is clearly responsible. I've lived there a long time and this has never happened with previous association boards. What occurs to me is that people are pretty much free to cheat you and break contracts at will unless you are willing to endure the trouble and expense of initiating a lawsuit. Initiating a lawsuit would certainly be a lot of trouble and a lot of expense. Even going to small claims court strikes me as pretty extreme, and not necessarily sufficient. Discussion hasn't worked so far. When I speak to the people causing the problems, they're polite, but unhelpful.

Although it's pretty much the last thing I want to do, I have considered running for the association board. The board is composed of five unit owners, and anyone who runs is almost guaranteed to get on, because there are never five people running. For that matter, only the tiniest fraction of the unit owners even attend the meetings. The maintenance problems appear to be caused by two of the five board members - the president and a friend of his on the board. My reading is that the other three don't play a major role on the board. The maintenance is actually handled by a management company we have, but the board makes policy for them.

Okay, that's the back story. Here's the question. Let's say that I did get onto the board. How much power would I really have to oppose these two board members? As I said, people are apparently free to violate rules and contracts unless you are willing to do what it takes to enforce them, which generally means hiring a lawyer. You might get the lawyer's fee back if you won the suit, but that could take a long time. For example, let's say that I was on the board and a unit owner called me and asked me to make a legitimate repair on his unit. Suppose that I called the management company and asked them to send a workman to fix the guy's problem and they simply refused. They are accustomed to taking orders from only these two of the five board members. Here's another hypothetical situation. Let's say that I proposed discussing an issue at a board meeting and the president simply refused to discuss it. If I were on the board and the powers that be simply refused to obey the rules and bylaws, or even condominium related laws, what could I actually do about it short of getting into a court battle?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,701 • Replies: 29
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 10:26 am
Brandon--

Can you provide a specific example? Are we talking minor or major repairs?
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 10:59 am
sounds like the board members are in bed with someone at the management company...
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 11:28 am
Re: Living in a Condominium
Brandon9000 wrote:
Let's say that I did get onto the board. How much power would I really have to oppose these two board members?

You would be one member of a five-member board. You would have one-fifth of the votes, or one-third of the votes necessary to form a majority. But at least you'd be on the board.

Brandon9000 wrote:
As I said, people are apparently free to violate rules and contracts unless you are willing to do what it takes to enforce them, which generally means hiring a lawyer. You might get the lawyer's fee back if you won the suit, but that could take a long time.

Hiring a lawyer is always a last resort.

You need to look at the association by-laws to see what options are available to you. Also, condo associations are typically governed by comprehensive state laws (I'm not familiar with Florida law). There may be something in the statutes, then, that could cover this kind of situation.

In general, a condo association member can file a "derivative lawsuit" against the association's board on behalf of the association, in the same way that a shareholder can file a derivative lawsuit against a corporation's directors and/or officers on behalf of the corporation. That shouldn't be your first option, but it's an option.

Brandon9000 wrote:
If I were on the board and the powers that be simply refused to obey the rules and bylaws, or even condominium related laws, what could I actually do about it short of getting into a court battle?

Do the by-laws have any provision for a recall election? If not, as a board member you could propose one.

The association should have a general meeting at least once a year, at which all of the membership is invited to attend (sorta' like a town hall meeting). You might want to raise your concerns there in order to get the support of your fellow unit owners.

Those are just some general suggestions. Without looking at your by-laws or studying Florida's condo laws, that's about all I can do at this point.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 11:53 am
Usually there is a time limit that each member can serve so the now serving president should not be there forever.

In the mean time, I would suggest calling the management company yourself (if you haven't already). I typically go through the management company for any issues regarding repairs rather than the board and have been very successful - they realize that another management company can always be hired if the board votes for it and like I said board members only serve for so long.

If these sorts of issues continue, I would imagine this is affecting other owners - you could always enlist other owners by leaving notes at everyone's doors. There is power in numbers - get a petition together if you all are having problems.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 12:52 pm
Noddy24 wrote:
Brandon--

Can you provide a specific example? Are we talking minor or major repairs?

First fixing a slow to intermediate speed ceiling leak. They never did this, but finally forced the upstairs owner to send a plumber, without a shred of evidence that it originated in her unit. It turned out to originate between the floors. She was never responsible, but ended up paying. They claim she can submit the bill to them.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 12:54 pm
Linkat wrote:
Usually there is a time limit that each member can serve so the now serving president should not be there forever.

In the mean time, I would suggest calling the management company yourself (if you haven't already). I typically go through the management company for any issues regarding repairs rather than the board and have been very successful - they realize that another management company can always be hired if the board votes for it and like I said board members only serve for so long.

If these sorts of issues continue, I would imagine this is affecting other owners - you could always enlist other owners by leaving notes at everyone's doors. There is power in numbers - get a petition together if you all are having problems.

Thanks, but I started with the management company. They are only a reflection of board policies. And, indeed, the board may not be replaced. Since there are always fewer than five people running for the board, anyone who runs gets to be on it.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 12:56 pm
Re: Living in a Condominium
joefromchicago wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Let's say that I did get onto the board. How much power would I really have to oppose these two board members?

You would be one member of a five-member board. You would have one-fifth of the votes....

Thanks. Studying your response...
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 01:48 pm
Brandon9000 wrote:
Linkat wrote:
Usually there is a time limit that each member can serve so the now serving president should not be there forever.

In the mean time, I would suggest calling the management company yourself (if you haven't already). I typically go through the management company for any issues regarding repairs rather than the board and have been very successful - they realize that another management company can always be hired if the board votes for it and like I said board members only serve for so long.

If these sorts of issues continue, I would imagine this is affecting other owners - you could always enlist other owners by leaving notes at everyone's doors. There is power in numbers - get a petition together if you all are having problems.

Thanks, but I started with the management company. They are only a reflection of board policies. And, indeed, the board may not be replaced. Since there are always fewer than five people running for the board, anyone who runs gets to be on it.


Like I said about - if this is really as bad an issue as you state, then many owners must be upset. Some one has to start - why not you? If you are so unhappy with how the board is being run, then send notes to other owners and see what sort of response you get. Then you and other unhappy owners can run and be elected, fire the management company and get a new responsible management company.

Some one else suggested reading the condo trust documents - see if there is something set in place to kick out the current trustees if enough owners petition against them. Usually there is something in place where if you get enough of a vote from owners, then changes can be made.

My neighbor did not like how things were run on the board, he ran and became president. I would have to say things were run more efficiently afterwards.

You have a choice cry and complain or do something about it.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 02:59 pm
Linkat wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Linkat wrote:
Usually there is a time limit that each member can serve so the now serving president should not be there forever.

In the mean time, I would suggest calling the management company yourself (if you haven't already). I typically go through the management company for any issues regarding repairs rather than the board and have been very successful - they realize that another management company can always be hired if the board votes for it and like I said board members only serve for so long.

If these sorts of issues continue, I would imagine this is affecting other owners - you could always enlist other owners by leaving notes at everyone's doors. There is power in numbers - get a petition together if you all are having problems.

Thanks, but I started with the management company. They are only a reflection of board policies. And, indeed, the board may not be replaced. Since there are always fewer than five people running for the board, anyone who runs gets to be on it.


Like I said about - if this is really as bad an issue as you state, then many owners must be upset. Some one has to start - why not you? If you are so unhappy with how the board is being run, then send notes to other owners and see what sort of response you get. Then you and other unhappy owners can run and be elected, fire the management company and get a new responsible management company.

Some one else suggested reading the condo trust documents - see if there is something set in place to kick out the current trustees if enough owners petition against them. Usually there is something in place where if you get enough of a vote from owners, then changes can be made.

My neighbor did not like how things were run on the board, he ran and became president. I would have to say things were run more efficiently afterwards.

You have a choice cry and complain or do something about it.

Not bad advice, but there are two issues. First of all, at my condo it is tantamount to impossible to get enough signatures on a petition to throw out a board. This board tried it with the last board (quite rightfully so I might add), and between apathy and fear they could never get the requisite number of signatures. Secondly, once I do this, I can pretty much kiss goodbye my chances of getting any help again, even in a real emergency.

My question is more about what I could do if I got on the board and the president and the managament company simply brazenly disobeyed the rules and procedures. The law may protect me, but only if I am willing to expend thousands of dollars on a law suit.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 03:16 pm
You could always move.

That has been one focus of mine whenever I bought a condo - to check out the condo agreements and how the Trust is run. This is the second condo I have lived in and I've been lucky (not without doing my research first) though. I have never had major issues with the association or how it has been run.

I can't say that I always have agreed and when I have disagreed I've talked with a board member or talked with the management company. At they very least they would listen and explain their point of view. Living in such an arrangement takes flexibility on all sides. I know people who moved in and didn't like the fact they needed to clean up after their dog. They ended up moving - basically a condo wasn't for them.

Maybe a condo isn't for you - or maybe just this association isn't for you. If not enough people are willing to sign a petition, then most must be satisified with how things are going - majority rules (even if the majority makes dumb decisions).
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 03:26 pm
Quote:
Let's say that I did get onto the board. How much power would I really have to oppose these two board members?


This may depend on whether the Master Deed has to be modified.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 03:30 pm
Brandon9000 wrote:
Noddy24 wrote:
Brandon--

Can you provide a specific example? Are we talking minor or major repairs?

First fixing a slow to intermediate speed ceiling leak. They never did this, but finally forced the upstairs owner to send a plumber, without a shred of evidence that it originated in her unit. It turned out to originate between the floors. She was never responsible, but ended up paying. They claim she can submit the bill to them.


You need to act on your own. If the upstairs owner can't interact with you on this matter, talk to a lawyer and if necessary take her to court. The Board really doesn't involve itself in matters like this. You're the owner, you need to act...
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 03:32 pm
Brandon9000 wrote:
Linkat wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Linkat wrote:
Usually there is a time limit that each member can serve so the now serving president should not be there forever.

In the mean time, I would suggest calling the management company yourself (if you haven't already). I typically go through the management company for any issues regarding repairs rather than the board and have been very successful - they realize that another management company can always be hired if the board votes for it and like I said board members only serve for so long.

If these sorts of issues continue, I would imagine this is affecting other owners - you could always enlist other owners by leaving notes at everyone's doors. There is power in numbers - get a petition together if you all are having problems.

Thanks, but I started with the management company. They are only a reflection of board policies. And, indeed, the board may not be replaced. Since there are always fewer than five people running for the board, anyone who runs gets to be on it.


Like I said about - if this is really as bad an issue as you state, then many owners must be upset. Some one has to start - why not you? If you are so unhappy with how the board is being run, then send notes to other owners and see what sort of response you get. Then you and other unhappy owners can run and be elected, fire the management company and get a new responsible management company.

Some one else suggested reading the condo trust documents - see if there is something set in place to kick out the current trustees if enough owners petition against them. Usually there is something in place where if you get enough of a vote from owners, then changes can be made.

My neighbor did not like how things were run on the board, he ran and became president. I would have to say things were run more efficiently afterwards.

You have a choice cry and complain or do something about it.

Not bad advice, but there are two issues. First of all, at my condo it is tantamount to impossible to get enough signatures on a petition to throw out a board. This board tried it with the last board (quite rightfully so I might add), and between apathy and fear they could never get the requisite number of signatures. Secondly, once I do this, I can pretty much kiss goodbye my chances of getting any help again, even in a real emergency.

My question is more about what I could do if I got on the board and the president and the managament company simply brazenly disobeyed the rules and procedures. The law may protect me, but only if I am willing to expend thousands of dollars on a law suit.


Best thing to do is sue the Trustees. Condo owners often win these lawsuits.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 03:33 pm
OR...............You can move out and then rent out your unit!
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 10:58 pm
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Noddy24 wrote:
Brandon--

Can you provide a specific example? Are we talking minor or major repairs?

First fixing a slow to intermediate speed ceiling leak. They never did this, but finally forced the upstairs owner to send a plumber, without a shred of evidence that it originated in her unit. It turned out to originate between the floors. She was never responsible, but ended up paying. They claim she can submit the bill to them.


You need to act on your own. If the upstairs owner can't interact with you on this matter, talk to a lawyer and if necessary take her to court. The Board really doesn't involve itself in matters like this. You're the owner, you need to act...

They made my upstairs neighbor call and pay for the plumber without a shred of proof that the source was in her unit, and ultimately her plumber found that the source was in fact not in her unit, but rather a broken pipe between floors. Problems between two units are something the association is responsible for. In the past, they would have fixed it, and then billed the upstairs owner when applicable. This new board has simply pushed all responsibility and discomfort onto the unit owners.
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 11:00 pm
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
...

Best thing to do is sue the Trustees. Condo owners often win these lawsuits.

I have no desire to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars, even if I can recover the money when I win the law suit. That's my point.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Dec, 2007 01:04 am
Brandon9000 wrote:
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
...

Best thing to do is sue the Trustees. Condo owners often win these lawsuits.

I have no desire to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars, even if I can recover the money when I win the law suit. That's my point.


Then obviously, you have a different means of handling this situation. What is it?
0 Replies
 
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Dec, 2007 06:08 am
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
...

Best thing to do is sue the Trustees. Condo owners often win these lawsuits.

I have no desire to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars, even if I can recover the money when I win the law suit. That's my point.


Then obviously, you have a different means of handling this situation. What is it?

In the end, by keeping up the pressure on everybody, I got them to agree to make the repair, although it hasn't been done yet. However, it seems as though one has no real recourse when being cheated if one isn't willing to endure the expense and trouble of suing.
0 Replies
 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Dec, 2007 10:18 am
Brandon9000 wrote:
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
Miller wrote:
Brandon9000 wrote:
...

Best thing to do is sue the Trustees. Condo owners often win these lawsuits.

I have no desire to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars, even if I can recover the money when I win the law suit. That's my point.


Then obviously, you have a different means of handling this situation. What is it?

In the end, by keeping up the pressure on everybody, I got them to agree to make the repair, although it hasn't been done yet. However, it seems as though one has no real recourse when being cheated if one isn't willing to endure the expense and trouble of suing.


Since the repair work will be paid for by condo fees, you'll end up paying for it, at least a fraction of it...
0 Replies
 
 

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