Q&A: Legal or Illegal?

Q A friend of mine is the president of a condo in Waltham, MA. She had been  working for the superintendent as a secretary when the super started his own  business, which is on the condo premises. Although it’s just office work, my friend plans to quit working for the super because she  feels like it is a conflict of interest—particularly because the business doesn’t pay any rent to the condo association. Is this really a conflict of interest  or is it legal?  

 —Trustworthy Trustee

A “This particular situation is very unusual, but anyone who is on the board of a  condominium association must always consider full disclosure,” says attorney Daniel Polvere of the firm MPD Law LLC in Charlestown, MA. “The main issue here is that the superintendent is an employee of the  association. Thus, if a decision has to be made by the board regarding the  super (firing, changing hours, pay), the president, in receiving compensation  from the super, may have her judgment affected by her financial compensation  from super’s business. So, at a minimum, she should disclose her arrangement to the rest of  the board. If they feel it is inappropriate, then she should resign from board  or quit working for super. She could alternatively disqualify herself from  voting on any such issue—again if the board approves.  

 “It isn’t the fact that the super’s business isn’t paying rent but rather that her financial interest in the business is a  potential conflict. If she is uncomfortable about the situation or the  appearance of the situation, she should quit the job even if other board  members don’t object. Generally, many condo bylaws permit dealings between a board member  and the association with knowledge and approval. However, this situation is  different and should be handled as described.”  


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