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Subject: Working for unethical boards
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DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 6:54 AM  
Does anyone have any experiences in dealing with an unethical board as it relates to how their actions kill staff morale?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8300


07/08/2019 7:20 AM  
Welcome to HOATalk... Oh and HOA living... Many of us are former or current board members. We got that way due to multiple issues with our HOA. We also experienced in fixing and making our HOA's a better place.

May I suggest that your HOA board make it mandatory to bring a copy of the CC&R's, by-laws, and Articles of Incorporation to each meeting? (ACC too if you have them). That way they can be referenced during meetings if any questions arise or information needed.

Former HOA President
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 7:25 AM  
I think that would be helpful, however, it requires a board to be focused on a common goal of supporting the community at large. What about the board members that focus on personal agendas rather than what's best for the whole? Anyone had this type of experience?
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3464


07/08/2019 7:32 AM  
Posted By DougJ2 on 07/08/2019 7:25 AM
Anyone had this type of experience?



Everyone on this site.

Je publie un degagement de toutes responsabilite. Read all posts at your own risk.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8300


07/08/2019 7:39 AM  
No one works for their board. The board is to work for them. Board members are also volunteers and homeowners just like the rest of the membership. they were just elected to represent the homeowners on daily business of operations. Do not like them? Follow the rules to get them out and put the people you want in. (If they will run).

Former HOA President
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 7:54 AM  
Wish it were that simple.
PestY
(South Carolina)

Posts:32


07/08/2019 8:07 AM  
It actually IS that simple.

HARD, but simple
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/08/2019 8:41 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/08/2019 7:39 AM
No one works for their board. The board is to work for them. Board members are also volunteers and homeowners just like the rest of the membership. they were just elected to represent the homeowners on daily business of operations. Do not like them? Follow the rules to get them out and put the people you want in. (If they will run).




Managers work for the board.

I have worked for boards that held fraudulent elections, violated the state property code left and right, and committed insurance fraud, on top of the garden variety bad decision making that routinely exposed their associations to liability.

The management contract gave me the right to refuse to carry out an illegal or unethical directive, but the management companies I've worked for in the past didn't want managers to do anything that might result in losing that client so it was always a delicate dance. I'd document my objections, and I could say, refuse to send a violation letter that I knew was only being sent out of retaliation, personal bias or bigotry. But I couldn't, for example, inform the homeowners that the election they just had was invalid because the board lied about reaching quorum.

I was able to persuade one company to "fire" the board that was committing insurance fraud, though. They were a condo board - those are the worst in my experience. This board also refused to replace their fire sprinklers, even though they had been recalled by the manufacturer. And ignored crumbling staircases until one finally collapsed, stranding a couple and their baby upstairs for two days. And hired unlicensed, uninsured contractors to save money. It literally took all of these things to persuade my VP at the time that this was not a client we should be associated with.






DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 8:50 AM  
Barbara seems to be able to relate to the question best. It's even more challenging when the board is still run by the developer and the developer is handing out other management contracts to the management company. Seems to be a no win situation if the board lacks integrity and the management company values their contacts over their own people, correct?
AugustinD


Posts:1791


07/08/2019 9:02 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/08/2019 8:41 AM
They were a condo board - those are the worst in my experience.


Interesting. Maybe this is because the condo boards have so much infrastructure with which to deal? The skill set required to be competent on a condo board is much higher than for a non-condo Board? Rental rates are higher at condos, so the board and management gets to deal with problem tenants to some extent, too?

I can certainly imagine what a balancing act it often is for management. They want to keep their contract (or jobs, if directly employed). If they do not do what the board says, then the chances of keeping the contract (or job) are small. Non-contract employees have some clout: If they are fired because they refused to break the law, they can seek unemployment benefits. The HOA would likely have to pay more for unemployment insurance.

Doug, toss in the effect that an unethical board has on membership. For what it's worth, using stealth I have seen management recruit new candidates for the board and help get them elected.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6421


07/08/2019 9:05 AM  
What positions do these staffers hold, Doug?

I have seen boards and/or certain directors place so many demands on our onsite property manager and manager asst., that they cannot get the work done that's in their contract with our HOA. Some directors here, for example, have demanded a great deal of research by the PM much of which the directors could do themselves.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/08/2019 9:08 AM  
Posted By DougJ2 on 07/08/2019 8:50 AM
Barbara seems to be able to relate to the question best. It's even more challenging when the board is still run by the developer and the developer is handing out other management contracts to the management company. Seems to be a no win situation if the board lacks integrity and the management company values their contacts over their own people, correct?




Not necessarily. Without knowing what it is you're concerned about, it's hard to say what your options are.

Most developer boards aren't actively bad, just indifferent. They only really care about selling lots and turning a profit and moving on to the next project. Their decisions are made out of expediency more than anything else.



DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 9:17 AM  
In my experience I have seen the developer board head dictate vendors and use the leverage of multiple management contracts with particular management company to remove senior managers so they can continue to get their way. The ones that suffer are the senior managers just trying to do the right thing in the jobs, yet they are moved on for it. One bad apple spoils the bunch.....
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/08/2019 9:29 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/08/2019 9:02 AM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/08/2019 8:41 AM
They were a condo board - those are the worst in my experience.


Interesting. Maybe this is because the condo boards have so much infrastructure with which to deal? The skill set required to be competent on a condo board is much higher than for a non-condo Board? Rental rates are higher at condos, so the board and management gets to deal with problem tenants to some extent, too?

I can certainly imagine what a balancing act it often is for management. They want to keep their contract (or jobs, if directly employed). If they do not do what the board says, then the chances of keeping the contract (or job) are small. Non-contract employees have some clout: If they are fired because they refused to break the law, they can seek unemployment benefits. The HOA would likely have to pay more for unemployment insurance.

Doug, toss in the effect that an unethical board has on membership. For what it's worth, using stealth I have seen management recruit new candidates for the board and help get them elected.




So many reasons...

First is that Texas does not require condos to follow the open meeting requirements that single family subdivisions are subject to. The Texas Uniform Condominium Act does not require condo boards to provide advance notice or agendas to owners.

Condos are more likely to have one owner with multiple properties- investors who can control the board (and elections in perpetuity). These same investors are loathe to levy a special assessment - no matter how badly needed - because they'll have to pay it x many times over.

It's much easier for condo boards to use association funds to benefit themselves personally. Replacing front doors/upgrading landscaping, etc that coincidentally always starts with board members' units. Oh the project went over budget and we can't finish this year - sorry!

And it's much easier to steal from condos. The line between what is owner responsibility and what is association responsibility can be fuzzy. Somehow it's always board members whose plumbing problems were caused by the common drain. In a single family HOA, there's only so much common area to perform maintenance on. Hard to slip in extra work. With condos, there's always something. Painting a railing, picking up trash, cleaning something, somewhere. Easy to fake an invoice, or have the handyman come to your unit and do a couple of side jobs that just happen to find their way onto the invoice he sends the association.



KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6421


07/08/2019 10:03 AM  
Doug, so is it vendors who suffer the morale problems? I'm trying to understand what kind of "staff" you'r referring to.
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/08/2019 10:30 AM  
I was referring to the onsite staff that work under the board and that continue loose their senior managers because the head of the board pushes them out to cover up the board's unethical behavior. No easy way to fix the situation unless you go to the developer to explain what their board representative is doing, I assume. the staff's own management company is not help because they value their management contracts over their own people.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6421


07/08/2019 10:35 AM  
What size/kind of development is your HOA, Doug?
Are you an owner?
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/08/2019 10:42 AM  
Posted By DougJ2 on 07/08/2019 10:30 AM
I was referring to the onsite staff that work under the board and that continue loose their senior managers because the head of the board pushes them out to cover up the board's unethical behavior. No easy way to fix the situation unless you go to the developer to explain what their board representative is doing, I assume. the staff's own management company is not help because they value their management contracts over their own people.




What kind of unethical behavior?

NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3464


07/08/2019 11:34 AM  
like pulling teeth.

Je publie un degagement de toutes responsabilite. Read all posts at your own risk.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3650


07/08/2019 12:03 PM  
As a management company, if I come across an unethical board, I try to teach them the proper ways to conduct themselves and if they refuse and purcue their personal agendas, they get dropped like a hot potato.

I lived in one HOA. Few of us got together and made changes to get rid of corrupt Board, management and legal to one that was transparent. When we left, it became worst, thus I would never live in one again. I could close a blind eye, but that's not my wife or I.

You can only lead a horse to water, you can't make them drink.

Been there, Done that
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/08/2019 12:41 PM  
Posted By RichardP13 on 07/08/2019 12:03 PM
As a management company, if I come across an unethical board, I try to teach them the proper ways to conduct themselves and if they refuse and purcue their personal agendas, they get dropped like a hot potato.

I lived in one HOA. Few of us got together and made changes to get rid of corrupt Board, management and legal to one that was transparent. When we left, it became worst, thus I would never live in one again. I could close a blind eye, but that's not my wife or I.

You can only lead a horse to water, you can't make them drink.




This is one of the reasons I prefer working for a smaller, privately owned management company - they are more likely to be willing to drop a client. There have been many times I've wrestled with my conscience about a board decision that I knew to be wrong. But you know - and I fully acknowledge that this may be just rationalizing on my part - every questionable act I witnessed a board doing would have been readily discoverable by a homeowner who just showed up at a meeting, reviewed the financials, or read their documents. Something I have to continually remind myself is that I cannot care more about the association than its members.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:299


07/08/2019 12:44 PM  
Posted By NpS on 07/08/2019 11:34 AM
like pulling teeth.




Not trying to defend unethical board members because Lord knows they're out there, but in my experience, the most vocal critics of the board did not recognize truly unethical behavior. Their definition was "something I don't like" and I can't tell you how many times I heard accusations of "willful misconduct". However, these people were perfectly OK with "misconduct" directed at other homeowners who did something that the critics did not approve of. So I'd also like to see some detail about what the "unethical board members are up to.
RichardP13
(California)

Posts:3650


07/08/2019 12:48 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/08/2019 12:41 PM
Something I have to continually remind myself is that I cannot care more about the association than its members.



That has always been something I struggled with.

Been there, Done that
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3050


07/08/2019 12:56 PM  
Posted By DougJ2 on 07/08/2019 7:25 AM
What about the board members that focus on personal agendas rather than what's best for the whole? Anyone had this type of experience?

You vote them out. If you can't wait that long you have a recall vote. You'll need the help of some of your neighbors.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6421


07/08/2019 2:18 PM  
Aw, c'mon, Doug. You're being way too vague about everything. What's an example at your HOA of a director working towards his personal agenda v. what's best for the community? And if it's just separate individual directors each working on their own personal agendas, how do they get the votes they need from the rest of the Board? Or do they trade off favors for each other?

Sometimes what's in a director's personal interest also benefits the community or a large chunk of it.

What does your HOA need tfor the Owners to take over from the developer?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8436


07/08/2019 4:04 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/08/2019 2:18 PM
Aw, c'mon, Doug. You're being way too vague about everything. What's an example at your HOA of a director working towards his personal agenda v. what's best for the community? And if it's just separate individual directors each working on their own personal agendas, how do they get the votes they need from the rest of the Board? Or do they trade off favors for each other?

Sometimes what's in a director's personal interest also benefits the community or a large chunk of it.

What does your HOA need tfor the Owners to take over from the developer?




I agree. He is way to vague.
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/09/2019 6:25 AM  
John what community do you live or work in? How about you Kerry?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8436


07/09/2019 8:08 AM  
Doug

No need to name anything or anybody but more information is needed.
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/09/2019 8:58 AM  
John that answer seems vague. I'm not debating whether the actions were unethical or not, I know they were. The original question was does anyone have any experiences with dealing with unethical boards and it grew from there. Thanks for your participation.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:299


07/09/2019 9:47 AM  
I do believe we're being played.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2565


07/09/2019 9:52 AM  
With all due respect, you’re still too vague for me to give you a thoughtful answer – one person’s “unethical behavior” may be another person doing something correct and proper, but person #1 disagrees with it for whatever reason. You may be right that the behavior is unethical - and if it is, I fail to see why you don't come out and say what this board is doing (or not).

I assume you’re a homeowner, but you haven’t said if you’re on the board, and that could make a difference in what the suggestion might be. Not to mention the developer is still running things – usually the developer has the first and last say over what happens in the community until it’s turned over to the homeowners. If that hasn’t happened yet, your board may be able to do little more than rubber-stamp whatever the developer is doing – or they’ll be overruled anyway.

You either want useful information or not – I, for one, don’t believe in being an automatic amen corner, especially when people ask questions that don’t provide any insight as to what’s happened, or what’s been done or attempted to resolve the problem – and why said behavior is questionable. Some of the folks here have already said what you may need to do – rally together your neighbors and vote out this board and put in people who will do what you want. Ultimately, that’s how change happens and it’s not easy, nor is a change made overnight. Sometimes it’s a matter of how far you want to push and what you’re willing to do.
DougJ2
(Georgia)

Posts:9


07/09/2019 10:28 AM  
Great and informative responses. Thank you for your support.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:193


07/09/2019 10:48 AM  
Posted By DougJ2 on 07/09/2019 8:58 AM
John that answer seems vague. I'm not debating whether the actions were unethical or not, I know they were. The original question was does anyone have any experiences with dealing with unethical boards and it grew from there. Thanks for your participation.




And if we just answered "Yes" and left it at that, would you have been satisfied?

Do you want to commiserate or do you want advice on improving your situation? Because if it's the former, then I think we've done that and the thread has run its course. If it's the latter, more detail is needed.





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