Q&A: Setting Limits

Q&A: Setting Limits

Q. Our condo association is over 20 years old, and I believe that at least one of the members has served on our five-person board for its entire existence! Two others have been around for a long time, too. The problem is, they don’t want to listen to any new ideas. When election time comes up, I think newer owners are too intimidated to try to “unseat” them. Can we institute a change that would set “term limits” in order to force some new blood onto the board? Or is there a law that we’re missing, requiring turnover on boards?

                                  —Looking for Change

A. “This question raises a very common situation that occurs at many condominiums,” says Janet Oulousian Aronson, partner at Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks in Braintree, Massachusetts. “Often, there are one or two board members that continue to serve year after year. While on its face this seems problematic, in many cases these are dedicated individuals who spend their time and efforts to administer the association. The reality is that most owners don’t want to serve, and but for these people who are willing to continue to serve, there may not be any board members. 

“Nevertheless, all board members should be willing to listen to new ideas, and if they are not then it may be time to consider electing new members. There is no law that governs who may serve as a board member or for how long. The only way to accomplish term limits on board member seats is by amendment to the documents to establish the restriction. An amendment to the condominium documents requires a vote/consent of a requisite percentage of unit owners depending on the requirements of the condominium documents.  

“In my opinion, I don’t recommend that any association consider implementing such an amendment, as it creates an unnecessary limit, and unit owners have the power to vote to control the outcome of who gets elected. Rather, people do need to get involved and step up to run for board seats and unit owners need to participate in elections. Doing so should serve to eliminate the problem.”

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