Q. Our condo president says she alone has the authority to select and remove members of a committee. Is this true?
A. “It depends upon the language of the governing documents, but it is generally not the case that the board president has the exclusive authority to select and remove committee members,” says Thomas O. Moriarty, principal in Moriarty Troyer & Malloy LLC with law firm Braintree, Massachusetts.
“In most condominiums, the role of the president is not clearly defined, and the president is conferred no enhanced power or authority compared to other members of the board. There is often no procedure spelled out for removing a president from his or her leadership position. That is not to suggest that the president does not serve an important administrative and substantive role. The president of the association can serve as the point of contact with third parties, and with the association’s professional consultants and advisors. The president typically serves as a spokesperson for the association in dealing with outside individuals or agencies, and also generally runs board and unit owners’ meetings.
“All of those functions are extremely important. However, the president does not have, in the typical situation, the right to make unilateral decisions about any substantive matter. Therefore, while the board president might be tasked with communicating what the organization of unit owners has decided on a particular issue, presenting that position to a municipal board, or even to a meeting of unit owners, the president is not the sole decision-maker.
“In most associations, boards act by a majority of their membership. The president, as a member of the board, would have a vote on any item brought up before the board, including whether to appoint or remove a committee member – but the president could not dictate the outcome of the vote. Absent some unique provision in the governing documents, the board president’s role in selecting or removing committee members would be no different than that of the other board members. The president would vote as a member of the board and a vote cast by the majority of the board members would carry the day.
“My recommendation would be to first confirm that there is no unique provision in your governing documents that deviates from the common approach outlined above. If not, you and the rest of the board can gently break the news to the sitting president. If the president is not willing to recognize the limitation of the powers conferred under the documents, the remainder of the board could simply carry out whatever selection or removal process they determine to follow. If the situation deteriorates to the point where the board member cannot effectively serve in his or her position, the other members of the board might vote to remove the president. One would hope that an understanding could be reached which doesn’t result in the need for such drastic measures!”