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Subject: HOA won't follow the rules: what to do?
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(New York)


11/17/2019 4:59 PM  
Other than filing a lawsuit or moving, what would you do in this situation?

My HOA (in NY):

1. Out of a board of 6 or 7, has 2 or 3 directors who work for the management company.

2. One director who works for the management company runs annual meetings (receives proxies, votes proxies, etc.).

3. The HOA, at the annual meeting, has denied that there is any law requiring it to disclose "related party transactions" to owners, such as transactions between the HOA and the management company. (The NY law is described at

4. Board meetings are secret and no minutes are kept. (The HOA board, which has at least one lawyer on it, says that it doesn't know how to keep minutes.)

5. Whenever any "outsider" has asked for records (such as owner or board meeting records), the request is ignored.

6. Whenever any "outsider" has run for the board, if the outsider gathers enough votes to win a seat, the election has been canceled by the board, and the board has not shown any information about proxies gathered.

7. At annual meetings, the management company directors literally yell at owners and dare them to try to get on the board.

My specific concern: I'm currently looking at other properties, and I see that other buildings in my neighborhood have had significant gains in price over the last 10 years. My building hasn't been improved at all, HOA dues per month are significantly higher per square foot than other buildings, and mine has basically remained stable in price.

I'm not going to allege that any funds have been misappropriated, but the combination of high maintenance plus no capital upgrades is tough to figure out, as the management company effectively controls the board and will not give records to owners.

Other than filing a lawsuit or moving, what would you do? Or, if you were a lawyer, would you file a lawsuit to get records?
(New York)


11/17/2019 5:03 PM  
To add:

8. The HOA board agreed (in writing) to have "normal" election procedures, with candidates for the board solicited, proxies listing candidate names and a neutral counter at meetings. Then at the next annual meeting, the HOA board denied the existence of the agreement.

9. Owners are generally apathetic (a lot use the HOA as just a weekend place) but there are enough to gather and get a few board seats; the HOA just cancels elections if an "outsider" will win, though.


11/18/2019 5:39 AM  
If I were in a similar position, I would ask myself if the benefits of living in my home justify the negatives. If not, could I do anything to change this, how much effort does each option involve, what are the odds of succeeding at each, and how permanent is each solution? Options can range from just ignoring the whole business, getting a new slate of candidates elected, suing the bad actors, or moving.

So... ignoring the mess takes minimal effort, success is entirely in your hands, and is pretty permanent assuming you're able to live with it. Moving is work, but it's a permanent solution to this particular problem and again it's mostly in your control. Going the election route or lawsuit route require a great deal of effort, a great deal of expense for the lawsuit, the outcomes depend on others and are not guaranteed, and they probably won't be permanent. (Some time ago, in a different discussion, we'd talked about the way HOAs seem to shift back and forth between decently managed to off the rails, depending on the people in charge. I think that's the nature of the beast.)

The bottom line is: how much of an appetite do you have for each of these options? Personally, in your position I have been gone a long time ago. I have minimal patience for nonsense, and I think that being an unwilling financial partner of bad actors and incompetents is unacceptable. Life is too short to spend my time aggravated all the time. Your mileage may vary.


11/18/2019 6:47 AM  
I agree with CathyA3 about this mess. If I was mentally prepared to stay calm and automaton like, digging in for the long run without caring to give much time and emotional energy, then the one right I would try to enforce is review of records. Here is an article with what looks like a nice overview of recent case law in New York on condo records inspection:

Links to the appellate court opinions cited in the article above:

I would send several demand letters, for the records I wanted, over three months, starting off super polite and then amplifying to a threat of litigation; wait a month; then file in court pro se.

I would let it all percolate. I would keep my written comments dry and detached and let the facts speak for themselves. Because the facts by themselves scream substantive lawlessness. I would expect the board to fight me tooth and nail, making all manner of stupid motions that would hopefully annoy the judge. I would hope the court would ultimately rule in my favor. If after a ruling in my favor the condo continued to drag its fee, I would be ready to file in court again.

I would not have hope for much (if anything) else with this corrupt board.


11/18/2019 7:43 AM  
Your #9 says it all - the owners are apathetic and unless and until they get together to sack everyone on that board (and the management company), nothing will change. As AugustineD stated, you can sue to get the records, but that won't fix the main problem unless and until the homeowners see them and hopefully get mad enough to react.

I also agree with Cathy - if I was dealing with a board like this, I might have tried to rally my neighbors first, but if the response is a big fat nothing, I might say to hell with it, sell the house and move on. It's a shame things have to come to this, especially if you really like your home, but life is too short and has enough problems to deal with a community where people don't have the courtesy to explain what they're doing and why (just pay your assessments, go away and shut up!)


11/18/2019 9:25 AM  
What are the laws regarding records access in the state of NY? What is the process to request records?
(New York)


11/18/2019 9:27 AM  
Thanks. I've made a records request, following NY law, and it was ignored.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > HOA won't follow the rules: what to do?

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