Q&A: Owner Apathy

Q. My Connecticut condo has been run into the ground by a very poor property management group, and the condo board ‘president’ is more interested in calling himself president than in doing the duties of the position. Everything has had to be redone at additional cost, and I suspect kickbacks with the ‘landscaping’ contract. Residents are poor and don’t seem to care. Now I am being harassed for speaking out by the president and the property manager. I can’t afford to take this problem to court. I plan to move, but the deed restrictions run out in about a year, allowing me to make a profit on the sale of my unit. From now until then, is there anything I can do?

                                   —Frustrated Owner

A. “As an owner, you have to make a difficult decision:  Do you attempt to rally support among the neighbors to remove and replace the current president of the association, or wait it out until you can sell the unit?” says Scott Sandler, partner in Sandler, Hansen & Alexander LLC in Middletown, Connecticut.  

 “Condominium and homeowner associations are democratic societies.  Forcing a change in leadership requires the support of the voters, i.e.: the other unit owners in the community.  Removing and replacing members of the board are easy tasks to accomplish, if you have the support of your neighbors.  

“Unfortunately, apathy runs rampant in these communities.  This could be due to either a lack of understanding, or a lack of interest (I don’t know; or I don’t care).  

“However, the apathy could also be taken as a good sign:  If people are generally content with their leadership, then they feel no need to speak up and to participate. Anyone who has ever attended an association meeting knows that the angry people almost always participate. Content folks generally prefer to stay home and to let the association run itself.  

“If you suspect some kind of financial improprieties, then you should take the time to inspect the association’s records. Those records are open for inspection by any unit owner.  Any improprieties may then be shared with the community at large.

“Regardless of whether there exist any improprieties, if you are dissatisfied with the current leadership, then you should speak to the neighbors to determine whether it makes sense to remove and replace the leadership.”

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