Q&A: Wedded Conflict?

Q&A: Wedded Conflict?

Q. Can a husband and wife serve at the same time on a condo board, or is it a conflict of interest? There are three board members in our 12-unit condo complex. The husband is the president, and the wife is the treasurer.  Is this allowed?

                          —Looking for Balance

A. “Although the condominium statutes of individual states differ, the issue of who can serve on an association’s board is typically left to the association’s own governing documents,” says Gary M. Daddario, partner at Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks in Manchester, New Hampshire. “

“Generally speaking, that which is not prohibited is allowed. In other words, unless the governing documents state that only one owner of a unit may serve on the board at a time, then it is possible for both owners to serve on the board (provided, of course, they are properly elected or appointed). A conflict of interest occurs when an issue before the board holds the possibility for either personal gain or personal harm to a board member (beyond the ever-present gain or harm for all board members associated with being an owner in the community). In such cases, it is appropriate for a board member to recuse themselves from discussion and voting on that issue.  

“Here, assuming a husband and wife have shared interests, should an issue come before the board that holds potential for personal harm or personal gain, then both should recuse themselves. Finally, I note that there is a difference between a person wearing an ‘owner hat’ and a ‘board member hat.’ As separate and individual board members, the husband and wife would each vote when the board is voting on a matter. In contrast, when voting as unit owners, the husband and wife would still share the single vote appurtenant to their unit when the community is voting on a matter.”

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