Q. Last year, I decided to run for a seat on the board of my condominium association. However, when annual meeting time rolled around, the board did not even place my name on the ballot—even though I was the only person who had announced candidacy for the position. Instead, the board recruited someone else, and put that name on the ballot. Next thing I knew, that person was announced as the new board member. I was told later that I wasn’t included because I had only owned my unit for two years, while the other person was a long-time resident.
Is this kind of board interference allowed for a condo election? I would like to know my options before I put my name up again for the next election.
A. “For the most part, statutory law that applies to condominiums does not address the details of election procedure. Instead, the statutory language on the subject typically states that the specifics of such procedures shall be set forth in the association’s bylaws,” says Gary M. Daddario, partner in Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks, PC, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. “So, information about precisely how elections are to occur is usually best sought from within the governing documents of the condominium in question.
“In addition, condominium boards are generally empowered to adopt and amend rules and regulations regarding administrative matters. In the rules and regulations of some associations are items pertaining to the election/appointment process. So, these too should be consulted, on a case-by-case basis, for a particular association. If there are, in fact, qualifications for board membership, such as a residency requirement or a minimum term of residency, they will appear in the governing documents and/or rules.
“Based on the description provided, it might be the case that the board, in the subject instance, was actually going about appointing someone to fill a vacancy. At most condominiums, the governing documents provide for the remaining board members to make decisions about the appointment of individuals to fill vacant seats on the board. Often, these appointments serve until the earlier of the remainder left on the term associated with the vacant seat or next regularly-scheduled election or annual meeting.
“In a worst-case scenario, a board may fail to follow applicable provisions of the governing documents or attempt to impose regulations/restrictions that simply aren’t there. If you determine that this is what happened in your situation, I recommend requesting a meeting with the board and/or placing a discussion of the issue on their meeting agenda for an upcoming meeting. A frank but cooperative discussion about what occurred in the past and what is either required by or not referenced in your governing documents/rules is one path towards achieving a better process in the future.”