Q&A: Tyranny Unbridled

Q. I live in a 4-unit condo, with two members on the board. The president is demanding, tyrannical, and always does things her way. When work needs to be done, she hires friends and relatives, without bidding the project, and the workers don’t have insurance.  She pretty much does what she pleases, since the other board member is intimidated by her and is afraid of speaking up. We have not had an election in a long time. Is there anything that can be done to unseat this tyrant?

        —Feeling Helpless in Haverhill

A. “This question highlights the problems that can arise in condominiums comprising of only a few units,” says attorney Janet Oulousian Aronson, a partner in the Braintree, Massachusetts law firm of Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks. “Often, such condominiums do not function with the same formalities and there is no professional property manager. That leaves the administration in the hands of likely one board member, who doesn’t understand that the operation of a condominium should be run as a business that he/she does not solely own.

“Given the scenario being described, the best approach to this situation may be to speak with the other owners to align a consensus among you that the condominium should be administered by the board and the not the decision of only one person.  A review of the condominium documents may allow all owners to be board members, rather than just two. So in this regard you can all participate in decisions.

“It should be a civil discussion to let the person know that the rest of you as owners want to participate going forward and less of a focus on what has taken place in the past. While this discussion could be difficult, if a majority of you are on the same page and emphasize the need for working together, there is a possibility that things can change in the future. Otherwise, the only recourse may be to remove the person as a board member—though, the condominium documents must be reviewed to determine what rights and remedies exist.” n

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