“A fellow board member, in my opinion, has been treating one of our residents unfairly. It does not go beyond illegal activity, but it is close. This resident has reported the board member to the local authorities and management company. Expressing my opinion unofficially to the board member has not provided this resident any relief. What else can I do in my official and unofficial capacity, and am I putting the association at any risk by taking or not taking action?“
Board member interaction with other homeowners is an important consideration. When a homeowner becomes a board member, they need to properly understand their role and how their actions (along with their perceived actions) impact their surroundings and more importantly their neighbors. A board member may have strong opinions regarding issues and individuals within the community. Being that board members often live within the community they serve, it is only natural to take certain situations personal and have a desire to take matters into their own hands when conflicts arise. However, as a board member, it is important to realize that you are one of many votes that make up the board. One board member has very limited authority to act on their own relative to association business without the blessing of the majority of board. Failing to respect that the board governs the community in unity as a group, and in the best interest of the community (regardless of individual opinion), can be a major problem. A board member that does not understand and respect this structure, therefore going off on their own as an individual, can very easily cross the line.
In this particular situation, it is noted that the community has a management company involved. One of the major benefits of having a management company is that it eliminates the need for the close personal interaction between board members and homeowners. These sensitive situations can and should be handled by the management company, leaving the board to simply make key decisions and set policies. With a good management company there is very little need for the board to get involved in the routine, day-to-day management of the community. I would recommend that the board review, discuss, and vote on putting in writing a request to this rogue board member asking them to cease communication with the impacted homeowner and clarify that their actions are not supported or endorsed by the board. I am not an attorney (therefore don’t want to provide legal advice) but would imagine that such a letter would hopefully help alleviate the situation for the homeowner, educating the board member on their role, and clarifying that these actions are not condoned by the board. If this letter is unsuccessful in halting the harassment, then I would recommend the board promptly obtain legal advice on how to ensure that the board (and essentially the community as a whole) is protected and their liability minimized.
Scalzo Property Management, Inc.
2 Stony Hill Suite 201
Bethel, CT 06801