Many if not most boards of trustees get along famously. There are boards that have had the same members for decades and run their communities without a hitch. But sometimes boards don’t get along so well.
We frequently get calls from readers who are troubled when they find that their board members and trustees seem to be operating under a different set of rules than the rest of the community. For example, they get preferential treatment for parking spots, ignore pet rules, fast-track their own alteration projects, fail to pay their assessments on time, and disrupt board and shareholder meetings. Rogue board members negatively affect building morale, erode residents' confidence in their board, and can even have serious legal ramifications as well.
A potential driver of the “rogue board member” phenomenon is the evolution of the job description. This is not your father’s board.
“The role of a board member is defined in the governing documents and applicable statutes,” says Henry A. Goodman, an attorney and founding partner of Goodman, Shapiro & Lombardi, LLC in Dedham, Massachusetts. “To generalize however, a board member is required to act for the benefit of all owners with regard to their common interests such as the common property and interference with the right to peacefully enjoy their property.”
“We are a 25 year-old, 86-unit complex and have been self-managed since 2008. That was probably the best decision we ever made,” says Karen Burkinshaw, president of the Clearview Heights Condominium Association in Chicopee, Massachusetts. “Our board members do everything from contacting multiple contractors to do a job (we had our building re-sided this year) to interviewing them, vetting them, choosing the one, meeting the one to be sure we know what needs to be done, to coordinating those requirements with the owners/renters, to making sure the contractor has access to the meeting room, to answering questions from the contractors and owners. When we replaced the siding, one of our trustees was on the property everyday and even became familiar with the contractors employees.”