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Subject: Board Issues - I really need help please
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MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/17/2020 7:26 PM  
I am one of three members of our HOA and sit on the ACC. To say the board hates me is an understatement. Here are the issues in a nutshell.

1. Everything I propose, they shoot down. From having the landscaper care for the dying trees we just spent $50k on, to the colors on the paint palette, to establishing a finance committee.

2. During the last open meeting, the other 2 members agreed to forming a finance committee bc no one has so much as reviewed the financial statements in a decade. Yet at tonight's open meeting, they shot down adopting the charter saying my being on the committee would be a conflict of interest. When I requested an explanation, they called me a bully, cited Robert's Rule and insisted I was bringing a personal argument into it. (I can't explain that last part, it's just what they said

3. They tried to kick me off the ACC saying my involvement was a conflict even though our CCRs specifically state a board member should be on the committee.

4. The Karens of the neighborhood (including BOD member #3) got their friends together to attend the board meeting and cause issue with everything I discussed tonight, quite effectively making me look awful. Even one of the people I recruited to be on the finance committee stabbed me in the back and tried to get me removed it.

I don't care that we're not braiding each other's hair, but someone just drove by house yelling threats out the window of his truck through a megaphone.

So in regards to the finance committee, it is my understanding that a board member traditionally chairs the committee. We do not have fiduciary responsibilities, just management. So how is there potential conflict?

I promise you there is nothing I have done to cause this outrage. I am a straight to business person that does not play the popularity contest BS that Texas HOAs love, so perhaps that is off-putting, but I only work in the interest of the greater good of our community.

What do I do with a completely obstructionist board that does nothing with over $250k in annual revenues other than plant flowers and waste money? Where do I even go from here?

I'm feeling lost, and now threatened thanks to that drive-by. Even if it's just words of encouragement, I could really use a hand right now. For reference to applicable HOA laws and regs, I'm in Texas. Thanks all.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3307


06/17/2020 7:43 PM  
Organizations would be great if it weren't for the people in them! Unfortunately, you find all sorts on an HOA board, school board, church trustee board, etc. At various times and for various reasons some people will be liked and others, not so much. You may not think you've done anything to cause a commotion and you may be right, but for now, as long as you're outnumbered in votes, there's not much you can do. And that's a shame because it sounds like you really want to do a good job, but the others aren't listening.

You're on the board because people in the community voted for you, so it may be time to invite them to the meeting to listen to the proceedings. They have a right to be there (they're homeowners too) and maybe if they see you're making reasonable suggestions that are being shut down at every turn, they'll ask why. It's what the Karens of the neighborhood did, so two can play that game.

However, you're not a pinata, and when you've given it your best shot, but continue to be ignored, it may be time to step back and take a hard look at things. It could be you need to change your approach in some areas, pick one area to focus on for now - or decide if you want to stay and continue to be smacked around until your guts spill all over the place. Is that worth your physical and emotional health? If not, maybe you should step down and let the crazies do what they do - and face the consequences (they won't be able to blame you).

As for the guy with the drive-by megaphone - I might let that go if it was a one-time thing, but if this continues and the behavior starts to border on harassment (driving by all hours of the night with the racket, name-calling, and whatnot), a call to the non-emergency police line may be appropriate. You might also get some sort of video camera or web camera to get some time and date stamp footage in case legal action (criminal or civil) is needed.

LaskaS
(Texas)

Posts:312


06/18/2020 12:54 AM  
Maddy, I feel for you. Im in texas too. There is no oversight or government agency that one can turn too if the board of your HOA is really really bad.. Outright illegal, self dealing happens all the time. Rarely do board members ever have to answer to anyone. It's hard enough to just get enough people to serve . we don't have the luxury of excess candidates. Most of the time, the number of people running matches the seats available.
If you're board is only 3 people. how many homes in your community?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1077


06/18/2020 5:08 AM  
It is possible to turn around a board full of bad actors - but it's a lot of work, you won't be able to do it by yourself, and once you succeed the hard work really starts. Don't expect the bad actors to meekly go away afterwards. And don't expect to receive any thanks from the rest of the community.

So the first thing you need to do is take a hard look at the pros and cons of the situation and decide whether or not you're up for this battle. A lot of folks do this assessment and decide "the heck with it." In some communities the fights can get so bad that it permanently sours relationships between neighbors. Is that an acceptable outcome?

Talk to other neighbors to see how they feel about what's going on. You'll need to have others who are willing to serve on the board themselves, and you'll need to have enough others to vote for better candidates. If the majority of your neighbors think everything is hunky dory, forget about fixing this.

If the current board is particularly bad, it's possible to unseat them completely and replace them with new board members. Your bylaws should address the steps needed to call a special election. But the current board members would have to be doing something particularly bad to get enough people's attention. Otherwise, you'll need to replace them one at a time as their terms expire.

Not to throw cold water on this, but the reality is that even if you manage to replace your board with competent directors and make positive changes in your communities, these changes will last only as long as those directors remain in place. Most folks I know did not sign up for a permanent, unpaid part time job that results in a fair amount of guff being slung their way. Once the new board is burned out, they'll probably step down and the nincompoops will replace them, and you'll be back to square one. It's the nature of HOAs, unfortunately.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2816


06/18/2020 5:35 AM  
So, everyone is against you?

Options
1. Work a recall of the current board members
2. Stop being or the Board or ACC or committees
3. Stop doing whatever it is that everyone doesn’t like?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9577


06/18/2020 8:27 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 06/18/2020 5:35 AM
So, everyone is against you?

Options
1. Work a recall of the current board members
2. Stop being or the Board or ACC or committees
3. Stop doing whatever it is that everyone doesn’t like?




Good advice.
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/18/2020 8:48 AM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 06/18/2020 5:35 AM
So, everyone is against you?

Options
1. Work a recall of the current board members
2. Stop being or the Board or ACC or committees
3. Stop doing whatever it is that everyone doesn’t like?





It’s certainly not that everyone is against me. But there is the usual neighborhood clique of a small number of residents that have decided, for whatever reason, they don’t want me there. I don’t mind that I am not going to be accepted into their group. My concern is that the neighborhood is suffering from mismanagement, and this small but vocal minority is running it.

My best option may be to resign. It’s just disappointing to see people allow the neighborhood to decline. There is more concern for planting a few flowers at the main entrance than ensuring we have an annual audit.

The opposition is to change, which can be unsettling, but is quite necessary to ensure the longevity and financial health of this HOA. If I were to “stop doing whatever it is [they] don’t like, it would meaning following the status quo of ignoring the lack of adherence to the CCRs and Texas laws governing HOAs.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3307


06/18/2020 9:10 AM  
After 10 years on my board, I concluded that people usually take the time and effort to address things they really care about. It was frustrating to me also and part of the reason I burned out and didn't run again. But I also realized these are adults and have a right to make their own decisions, even if you think they're shortsighted (and you may be right).

Sometimes, it's not that they don't care, it may be that there are a ton of other issues on their minds, and they figure the HOA board members care the most about stuff like rules, budgets, etc., and so they let them deal with it.

There have been several discussions on this website about homeowner apathy several years ago (use the search function and you may be able to find some of them). Usually, everyone ended up agreeing this is an unintended consequences of HOA life. People prefer to leave the donkey work to someone else and don't worry about how the cake was baked, as long as it tastes good. You usually get their attention when there's a discussion about raising assessments or they get a CCR violation notice.

Such is human nature. I understand and appreciate you're trying to make change, but as others have noted, it'll eventually come down to homeowners themselves deciding what's important and when they should address it. Hopefully, it'll be before they find the reserves are terribly underfunded and now a hefty special assessment is necessary or a maniac (or a group of them) are running the show.

Until then, make your case, provide information that supports it and then let that sink in and see what happens. If it gets too much for you, it's ok to step down. Some people feel they need to suck it up and just keep banging their head against a brick wall. I once felt the same, but when the headache became too much, I decided enough was enough.

Another thing I learned the hard way - I took on a lot of HOA board work because no one else did, and pretty soon no one bothered to volunteer because they knew I'd take care of it eventually. THat's when I realized that perhaps I was the one holding them back and this would continue until I got out of their way. Just like raising kids - no one wants them to make horrible mistakes, but unless and until you give them the freedom to do it and learn from it, they'll never be able to carry on once you're gone - and sooner or later, you WILL leave the board. Perhaps this is where you're at - take a long hard look at yourself and the situation and then do what's right for you. Good luck!
MarkW18


Posts:1195


06/18/2020 9:10 AM  
I had a similar dilemma in the one and only HOA I lived in. My wife and I decided life is too short and make the decision to get out of Dodge and never ever go back.
ND
(PA)

Posts:458


06/18/2020 9:20 AM  
The options presented aren't your only options. You could consider the following:

- Prepare and present factual info to residents on status of things in an attempt to gain support for activities that you feel are important. If neighbors are apathetic or unwilling to support what you feel needs to be done, then that should tell you something too.
- Recalling the Board may not be necessary; however, through efforts, you can get like-minded folks to run for election to the Board at next opportunity. That way the current clique would be outnumbered in their decision-making ability.
- Definitely install a camera system if you feel threatened. Would be great to have some evidence to turn over to police if there are actual threats being made.
- Move out of the HOA . . . somewhat drastic, but a real option if things are in bad shape, people are unwilling to change, and you are not absolutely safe and happy.

Unfortunately if you resign, then the clique will have won and will have almost complete control. You will have much less ability to create change than you do presently.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:510


06/18/2020 11:19 AM  
Maddy, a few questions and comments for you--

1. You said you are in a HOA. Are you, or is it a condominium association? This is important as HOAs and condominium regimes fall under different sections of the property code.

2. How many homes or units?

3. How long have you been on the Board?

4. Being transparent, have you done anything to create the environment which exists?

5. I may have missed it--is there a management company?

Comments:

5. In Texas you do not need a finance committee or anything else to review the records of the Association. You, as an owner, as well as a Board member, have the right to ask for the bank statements and financial statements in the form in which they are published. Every month. There is nothing to prevent you from conducting your own review.

6. While annual audits in Texas are required for condominium associations, they are not required for HOAs unless stipulated in the Bylaws or Declaration. In some situations we recommend conducting an audit only every 24-36 months if the financial transactions can easily be tracked using the bank and financial statements. It takes a bit of work on the part of the Treasurer or Finance Committee, but it can save a few to several hundred dollars annually.
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/18/2020 11:38 AM  
Posted By BillH10 on 06/18/2020 11:19 AM
Maddy, a few questions and comments for you--

1. You said you are in a HOA. Are you, or is it a condominium association? This is important as HOAs and condominium regimes fall under different sections of the property code.

I’m in an HOA, no condos.

2. How many homes or units?

Over 600

3. How long have you been on the Board?

6 months

4. Being transparent, have you done anything to create the environment which exists?

Long story, but basically before I joined the board an existing board member was in my home and made racist comments about residents. I can’t stand for that-So taking the “educate don’t berate” approach, I tried to explain the benefits of a diverse neighborhood and inclusivity in our HOA events. She has never looked me in the eye again.

5. I may have missed it--is there a management company?

There is a management company who is quite opposed to establishing a finance committee.

Comments:

5. In Texas you do not need a finance committee or anything else to review the records of the Association. You, as an owner, as well as a Board member, have the right to ask for the bank statements and financial statements in the form in which they are published. Every month. There is nothing to prevent you from conducting your own review.

I started my own review and have found a bunch of questionable transactions, not fraudulent, but requiring additional scrutiny. Problem is that I could spend ages doing this and it would eat up the time I should be spending on my general board duties.

6. While annual audits in Texas are required for condominium associations, they are not required for HOAs unless stipulated in the Bylaws or Declaration. In some situations we recommend conducting an audit only every 24-36 months if the financial transactions can easily be tracked using the bank and financial statements. It takes a bit of work on the part of the Treasurer or Finance Committee, but it can save a few to several hundred dollars annually.

Our CCRs specifically state an annual audit should be performed. It has not been completed in at least 10 years. I even had to fight to gain read-only access to our bank accounts as the Treasurer.

There are plenty of points of concern that could be easily resolved with a willing board and some elbow grease.




BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:510


06/18/2020 12:08 PM  
Thank you for your responses.

As a word of advice to a Board Member of six months, I strongly suggest you sit back in your chair, observe, listen, and learn.

In those six months it is likely there have been between 3 and 6 meetings of the Board, perhaps more now that the Governor is opening things up and many large associations are making decisions regarding opening pools and other amenities.

Unless you have a great deal of previous experience with your association, its management, its financials, and as a long term board member in another association, you still are on a learning curve on the way up. Some of the subjects you have raised may be perceived by others as aggressive and off-putting. You may have relevant business experience but some experience may not be so relevant. HOA accounting for example, is not like for profit business accounting in some areas.

I suggest you seek a longer term member of the Board to mentor you for at least another six months. Build consensus. Find out what is going on. Who is allied with whom. What are the underlying reasons why decisions are made and why things exist as they do.

While I agree a Finance Committee possibly should be in place in a 600 home association, there may be reasons why there is not one. Not necessarily reasons with which you would agree, but reasons.

What is the objection of the MC to the Finance Committee? Since you are the Treasurer, have you asked the Property Manager about the transactions? From the perspective of "Help me understand how this transaction is accounted for".

Good luck
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:510


06/18/2020 12:17 PM  
Maddy, another point--

3 board members in a 600 home association is running pretty lean, 5 would be closer to the average.
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/18/2020 12:26 PM  
Posted By BillH10 on 06/18/2020 12:08 PM
Thank you for your responses.

As a word of advice to a Board Member of six months, I strongly suggest you sit back in your chair, observe, listen, and learn.

In those six months it is likely there have been between 3 and 6 meetings of the Board, perhaps more now that the Governor is opening things up and many large associations are making decisions regarding opening pools and other amenities.

Unless you have a great deal of previous experience with your association, its management, its financials, and as a long term board member in another association, you still are on a learning curve on the way up. Some of the subjects you have raised may be perceived by others as aggressive and off-putting. You may have relevant business experience but some experience may not be so relevant. HOA accounting for example, is not like for profit business accounting in some areas.

I suggest you seek a longer term member of the Board to mentor you for at least another six months. Build consensus. Find out what is going on. Who is allied with whom. What are the underlying reasons why decisions are made and why things exist as they do.

While I agree a Finance Committee possibly should be in place in a 600 home association, there may be reasons why there is not one. Not necessarily reasons with which you would agree, but reasons.

What is the objection of the MC to the Finance Committee? Since you are the Treasurer, have you asked the Property Manager about the transactions? From the perspective of "Help me understand how this transaction is accounted for".

Good luck




Sage advice Bill. Thank you.

I have previous experience with HOAs and have been involved with this one for a few years, but yes, I see your point about off-putting actions

The only reason there is no financial oversight is neglect. If the 3 board members, I am the only one who even knows how to read a financial statement.

I would love to find a member to mentor me, but unfortunately, the other 2 have treated me as an unwanted presence to the nth degree from the outset. I think my best option may be to peacefully step aside and let the chips fall. This neighborhood will soon end up underfunded and in violation of our CCRs, but I will know I tried.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7333


06/18/2020 5:54 PM  
Do your Bylaws really say only three directors, Maddy?
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/18/2020 7:34 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 06/18/2020 5:54 PM
Do your Bylaws really say only three directors, Maddy?




Yup. Three are explicitly stated.
DavidF22
(New York)

Posts:55


06/19/2020 5:58 AM  
I have one word for you: move.

I am seven years living under my first HOA, including two years on the board and one as President. Most of my neighbors are apathetic and few will serve on the board anymore, so the dregs of our community are directors. There are no annual elections because no one else wants to run. Our community is rife with mismanagement, corruption, self-dealing and favoritism. There is not enough space here to document all that is wrong with the place.

Last year, we eliminated our full-time security guards in favor of a keypad at the front gate to save money. We were supposed to save almost $200,000 annually and yet this year, our opaque board has not reduced our common charges by one penny nor put the excess into reserves. No one speaks up when this stuff happens. And when it comes to contractors, there is no competitive bidding. Thus, prices for work done in our complex are high and some of us believe these vendors perform favors for board members to maintain the status quo.

My state is one in which powerful real estate interests have virtually eliminated any HOA regulation, so the only option is to spend thousands of dollars suing the board with questionable results. We have a small minority of normal, sensible intelligent residents, but we have been unable to rally the majority against this mismanagement and corruption, so a number of us are looking to leave. When we try to speak up, the majority just sits back quietly. As a result, the current board targets us for retaliation in the form of reduced services or delays when it comes to things like architectural or landscaping approvals that others are given swiftly.

When it comes to HOAs, I have two words for me: never again.
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/19/2020 7:13 AM  
Posted By DavidF22 on 06/19/2020 5:58 AM
I have one word for you: move.

I am seven years living under my first HOA, including two years on the board and one as President. Most of my neighbors are apathetic and few will serve on the board anymore, so the dregs of our community are directors. There are no annual elections because no one else wants to run. Our community is rife with mismanagement, corruption, self-dealing and favoritism. There is not enough space here to document all that is wrong with the place.

Last year, we eliminated our full-time security guards in favor of a keypad at the front gate to save money. We were supposed to save almost $200,000 annually and yet this year, our opaque board has not reduced our common charges by one penny nor put the excess into reserves. No one speaks up when this stuff happens. And when it comes to contractors, there is no competitive bidding. Thus, prices for work done in our complex are high and some of us believe these vendors perform favors for board members to maintain the status quo.

My state is one in which powerful real estate interests have virtually eliminated any HOA regulation, so the only option is to spend thousands of dollars suing the board with questionable results. We have a small minority of normal, sensible intelligent residents, but we have been unable to rally the majority against this mismanagement and corruption, so a number of us are looking to leave. When we try to speak up, the majority just sits back quietly. As a result, the current board targets us for retaliation in the form of reduced services or delays when it comes to things like architectural or landscaping approvals that others are given swiftly.

When it comes to HOAs, I have two words for me: never again.





I feel for you man. It’s not the best situation around here, but I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as you have it.

Apathy may seem convenient to the majority of residents, but their inaction only serves to empower the outspoken.
FayeE
(New York)

Posts:30


06/24/2020 12:35 PM  
Hello Everyone

I am in an HOA in NY state. Some of you are expressing my dealings being in an HOA. We are 84 Condo units. Owner owned no rentals. Our Board is 5. My degree is in Business Management and a minor in Business Marketing. My parents owned Businesses and I did too. I came in with a lot of knowledge hoping to help them. NO one had any experience at all in anything.

This Board wants me gone and they think they can do that with a vote at our next informal meeting that we have every month. The Homeowners voted me in, and this Board thinks they can vote me out. According to our Bylaws they can remove my position on the Board and that is all. I am currently the VP. Really removing my position is not big deal to me what is a big deal is they think they can remove me. Why they want to remove me is well to them I am difficult to deal with. They are right. I demand at least 2 bids on jobs we have done here. I want to know what everyone is doing when it comes to this property. I question everything from our Management company when it comes to our dealings with bids and the people we use. And more

The president of this Board says things and that is that. The rest of the Board just goes along. If I really question him then he gets upset and yells at me. He wanted me gone since I was elected in. I imagine if I wanted to be King and someone is questioning me and what I say all the time then I would want them gone or maybe beheaded in the square. He just talks from the top of his head with nothing to back it up and we all are supposed to sit quietly and agree. When the Board let him be President and I agreed I did say I want to learn how it is done so I can do it. He then said he will be on this Board and President for the next 20 years. I laughed and Oh really. Others just looked at him. The President also told me that I need to shut because I make the meetings go long. Our meetings are from 6 to 8 pm. He wants out of there by 7. You can see him looking at this watch a lot. He hates me about everything. if it rains it is because I am difficult.

Now I have all the other Board members agreeing with him because they just want to have this meeting and agree to make things look pretty and do whatever the Management company says. Thank goodness we have a past member that is fabulous with finances to be on our Finance committee. She has been finding errors(maybe) and she is questioning the Management company and the Board is fine with that. She agrees with me this company smells. I have heard from other people that dealt with them in the past claim they are crooked. I am seriously questioning that too. You know it is hard to prove if things like moving money around all the time means something else is going on. Their dealing with contractors is strange and it sends up red flags in my head. They NEVER got a second bid on anything done here before I got on the Board. They said they had no reason to get Bids--OMG! From that point on they hated me. We have contractors doing a bad job and I said do not pay them or if paid already have them come back and make it right. OH no we do not do that. I said WHAT! They just do not do that. Well let us talk about corruption or kickbacks. They manage many other properties this is not their biggest by far. They manage by moving different companies to different places for repairs if there is a problem. We have one person contracted here that has 3 different companies that we all use here. That is not right, and gee can we smell things that are just wrong with that. So, the other day this person was doing lawn care and he said in an email that there was extra work that needed to be done and he will do it and send us a bill. Of course, I said what? You first need the Board's approval before the extra work can be done. You just do not charge us without doing so. Of course, that made him mad at me. I just know there is something going on with his firms and dealing with this management company. But for me to find out is impossible unless they admit it, I do have one person that agrees with me that is the past board member on the finance committee.

One thing more, recently I and another Board member had an appointment to do a Condo Inspection for the new homeowner and the Bank. The appointment time was at 11:00 am. I arrived at 10:55 and waited for the other Board member to arrive. I stood there for 5 minutes then the door opened and who comes out with the old owner... Yes, the Board member that I was supposed to meet at 11 am. The Board member said I got here early and started. I was upset. Board member said well I got here early and started. WHAT! I said you did not call me to let me know you wanted to do it earlier No! So, what was left to do was the garage. Board member goes well you can help with the garage. I was very upset. I said you finish it! I do not know about you all, but I had to make room in my schedule plus sort things around this 11 am appointment. I was happy to do it for the new owner. I believe this other member set me up. That person knew I would get very upset. I also have a disability which is another issue I must deal with to be there on time. Please tell me, am I wrong to be so upset? This Board member then e-mailed me to keep the fire going saying and I quote "Your distemper and rudeness at the starting of this unit inspection approximately 3 minutes prior to your arrival is intolerable. No excuse can ever be given for your behavior either to me or the seller. " Well It takes more than 3 minutes to go through a Condo Inspection, it takes at least 20 minutes. Then this Board member said it was at the start of it. What a liar to me and the rest of the Board and they will believe this Board member over me of course I was the one that was upset. The Board member stated to me that she was there early and started and was done by the time I arrived.

I am telling you some of what is going on, so you know why they find me difficult to deal with and want me off the Board. I am not a yes person. In the Bylaws the Board must have cause to remove my position. That cause is missing 3 or more informal meetings. Which I have not missed one. The problem with the Board is they are unable to read what the Bylaws say and mean. They do not understand terminology. Even if I explain it to them, they will just say it does not say that. Then what do I do? How do you not be removed when they plan to do it against the bylaw’s rules? They do not follow the bylaws by any means only if it fits them. So right now, no one is talking to me. I am not getting any emails from them. This is unusual. My recourse is to take it to all the homeowners which they cannot do anything about it till the annual meeting in September (that is if we can have it) My son who is a Lawyer but not one that deal in HOA's I had him read the Bylaws and agree they can't remove me from the Board. Does anyone see a recourse of action on my part?

Thank you

MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/24/2020 1:08 PM  
FayeE,

You are in quite a pickle. First order of business, document everything. Keep all emails and texts organized (keep things in written form as much as possible vs phone conversations), take pics, and make chronological notes of events. You will then have this documentation if need be, or you can simply discard them if you don't need it. It's 100 times harder to try to remember everything down the road.

I can't speak to trying to remove you from office, but I can tell you that suspecting a conflict of interest is serious, and if you are going to make the allegation it is imperative you can substantiate it. I am not trying to discourage - I hear you. A few things to look at:
1. Original bid from the vendor
2. Original (not photocopied) invoice from the vendor
3. Compare actual work performed vs. work specified on the bid and invoice
4. Compare original invoice to the amount reflected as payment in the books and directly on the bank statement (direct access, no photocopy - the finance committee member should have read-only access to the online bank accounts) Do the amounts match?
5. Get a bid for the same project (as a member of the board, do you have the right to get an independent bid? Not approving any work - just a bid to see a competitors cost for the same service)
6. Search state and publicly available records of vendor company ownership, and even those companies providing supplies to the vendor - compare ownership and mailing addresses (even PO Boxes) to the addresses of all board and committee members and their family members - Any commonalities that have not been previously disclosed in writing as a conflict?

Past these steps, you are getting into a forensic investigation of the HOA and you may want to consider the help of a CFE or other professional near you.

Reasonable skepticism can be a healthy practice when it comes to fiduciary duties. It could be a sketchy setup with the vendors, or the Board may have fallen into a rut where they just hire the same people time and again. From experience, sometimes the appearance of impropriety turns out to be people just being lazy and difficult, but then are the times you find your initial skepticism is justified.
MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/24/2020 1:29 PM  
Quick update on the OP:

After receiving threats and being harassed by a member of the community in a leadership position, I decided it is not worth the happiness to and stress on my family to continue to try to help this reluctant HOA. More events transpired since my original post, but really, it's not worth the effort to type it out. It became apparent that the board members would never work with me, only against me.

So they successfully frustrated me out of the board. I have resigned my positions on the board and all committees.

They will, no doubt, appoint one of their friends to my former seat and continue the status quo. So now they are going to try to run a relatively large non-profit with 2 entirely unqualified people. It's only a matter of time before someone realizes there are no safeguards to prevent a dishonest person from cleaning out the bank accounts. But I tried my best to tell them and no one would listen.

I believe I could have enacted some great policies and internal controls to safeguard our finances and improve our neighborhood. But sometimes, despite the best intentions, you are not the right person to do it. Maybe my drama will inspire a qualified resident to run for my seat and pull things together.

Thank you all for your advice.
DavidF22
(New York)

Posts:55


06/24/2020 2:25 PM  
I hear you totally. The handful of good, intelligent, involved people in our community are fed up and becoming uninvolved until they move. Meanwhile, the current board operates in secrecy, rules are being broken all over the place and not enforced (except against people the board doesn’t like) and there is all manner of circumstantial evidence that our funds are being mismanaged, or worse. Last year, we saved six figures in security costs by changing our configuration, but most of the savings cannot be found anywhere in this year’s budget. Our annual charges remain the same, and there is no extra money going into special projects to enhance the place, nor has a penny been put into reserves. Most of my neighbors are sheep, who don’t ask where the money is going. I believe the funds will materialize in the form of additional landscaping and other extra services on or around directors’ homes. What’s even worse, a couple directors making things worse aren’t even on the deeds of their homes.

One of the few HOA regulations in New York requires boards to complete, sign and file annual conflict-of-interest statements outlining any outside personal or business contacts with HOA vendors, but our board ignores this law even though some of the directors are attorneys. I recently asked them to enforce a noise rule against an offending homeowner, but since he is someone they like, they simply eliminated the rule.

I could go on and on with stories that would make your hair stand on end. So I’m just biding my time quietly until I get out of this place. I never want to see an HOA again.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9577


06/24/2020 5:11 PM  
Our docs say the ways to remove a BOD Member are:

1. The same way if elected by owners. Meaning a recall that owners get to vote on and a majority of all owners would have to vote to remove the person. Highly unlikely.

2. The sane way if appointed by the BOD. Meaning the BOD can remove the person. Highly unlikely

3. If a BOD Member misses 3 in row BOD Meetings without a written excuse such as illness. Highly unlikely.

The best way to remove a person from the BOD would be at Annual BOD Election time. Meaning elect new people.

To remove an Officer, the BOD can, with a majority of BOD Members, call for an Officer election. Even then, the person would still be a Member of the BOD, just no longer an Officer.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7333


06/24/2020 6:22 PM  
Best wishes to you, Maddy. I stepped away from our Board for a year when the Board majority became secretive and abused executive sessions. The three worst offenders were defeated in our lelection last fall and the 4th resigned seeing she'd be all alone.

So, I encourage you to pay attention to your HOA's business, maybe make some new gfreinds and bide your time. Goo luck!
FayeE
(New York)

Posts:30


06/25/2020 10:53 AM  
MaddyS
Thank you for all this information. Trying to catch the Management Company will be a difficult task if I do try to take them on. I have asked for all the documentation that you suggested since my arrival on the Board but they either hand me photocopies. Emails or they just ignore me and in hopes I forget. I just got tired of asking for them and realized that is their plan. Plus, the Board was upset with me asking and the Management Company. You could be correct they just continue to use the same vendors because of past dealings. But even in that case corruption can happen. Deals can be made under the table to keep them on doing the jobs. You see it all time in construction and other vendors. Money passes under the table to the owner of the Management Company so they call them all the time to do the job. That is why I questioned why them all the time. They never got a second bid until I arrived on the Board. The Management company was surprised by me asking for those second bids I did get one vendor we used to meet the other vendors bid. But I had to tell the management company to call our original vendor back and tell them we have a lower bid and if they would like to meet that bid for the job. They did not actually meet the lower bid, but they came in a dollar above it and since they gave us good service, we kept the original vendor at a lower cost.
If I leave the Board all this will stop, and they will go back to the old ways of just paying any old price and the homeowners suffer with high HOA fees. Which our HOA fees are very high for what we have. Maybe too much money is held in reserves because they do not plan for things. Yes, they make accounts for certain items and money is placed in them, but we do keep a high reserve.
If not for our finance committee the Board would not be catching all this money placed in different accounts. The committee must keep reminding them to put it where it belongs.

As for me being on the Board. I cannot tell you how many past Board members told me that they could not get nothing done with previous past Presidents and they left. They did stay for an average of 5 to 10 years before leaving. ( This past Board members hardly show up of the Annual meetings) All these past and current President are all great friends. Since they were on the Board with each other at different points in time they learned from each other the ways of handling things to their advantage. This Board is only good for handling emergencies and try to keep things looking nice but there are many issues not being addressed. I would like to say it is because of the virus but these issues existed before. I would like to stay on this Board till our Annual Meeting in September if we can have it. Then quit with a statement why. I would call for a special meeting, but we have nowhere to meet. It is the basics here buildings, streets, post boxes and that is it. Many homeowner expressed a meeting place on the grounds but that will never happen.

I would like your opinion on a serious matter here. Many of our buildings have mold. We have known about this for 2 yrs now. We did bring in someone to look and tell us his opinion . He was a salesman for the paint company that sells the paint to stop mold. He was the one that alerted us all by going to the worse buildings that this is a serious matter. We have wet sills, and mold covering about 7x8 places. 3 of us on the Board said we need to test these buildings to see what kind of mold we are dealing with and then proceed accordingly. BUT the President said no. We found that the water from the sump pumps was flowing on the ground right outside our main front doors and on to the ground and not into our drainage system. We fixed that and the President said we will wait until things dry out but as we all know they mold still exist until it gets damp again and these places are in our sump pump areas that are open to the whole building. Our doors to our storage units are covered in mold. The President seems to be fine with this situation. I did have one compliant that an Owner was asking if it was possible there was mold in his building because he has been having issue with his asthma . I said it would have to be investigated. I was told since my arrival what we discuss in the Board meeting stays there. I do not believe that is right. Yes, personal information should remain private, but all other matters should available to all Homeowners. The President made this very clear that we should not tell the homeowners. I did question why and nothing from him. I did tell 2 of my neighbors about the mold. They were only concerned if it was their building. I said no not like the others. They were relieved but no concern about all other buildings like they have no connection to them. Oh, my building is one of the worst buildings for mold. Also, the Board(including me) can be sued if someone does get ill.

I am tired of fighting being the only one that really cares.
Thank you again MaddyS
Faye



FayeE
(New York)

Posts:30


06/25/2020 11:21 AM  
Thank you DavidF22 for responding. I am right with you in how all this is mess. So many here are happy with this place. It is quiet and no one is really a problem to other homeowners. The Board has issues with 2 homeowners but so what. We have rules and fines associated with them. The management company sends out the threatening letters stop doing this or be fined. The Board NEVER follows through with the threats of fining. So big deal! Why follow the rules then. That is my stand now. All the don'ts go out the window. I would tell all the homeowners to forget them too.
Our Board is not following the Bylaws at all that is why they think they can get me out by using them at their convenience but not know the terminology of the wording. They will have to contact our lawyer to explain them to them.
Lawyers on the board would seem an advantage in some cases but if their specialty is not HOA law they are worthless. My son is a Lawyer and I had to have him go over the wording for me in the Bylaws to make sure I was reading them correctly. I was and he pointed out other things as well that I did not realize. The problem is they all are ignorant. Simple minded people reading complicated documents. All the homeowners I have talked to NEVER read the Bylaws that they sign or the Rules and Regulations (just a pamphlet of don'ts. They are tired of hearing of them).
You should write a book of the Downfalls of being in an HOA. It seems you have some type of waiting to do before you can leave there. Here we can sell anytime we want. I am sorry you have to go through all you have. I have tried to be more open with our Board. Friendlier, telling homeowners to call the Board with issues, talking to them when I see them, and letting them know I want to hear their complaints about everything even if the rest of the Board does not and to speak up at the annual meetings. They all seemed happy that I am open about it.
Thank you again. I see my need to leave this Board.
Faye



MaddyS
(Texas)

Posts:25


06/25/2020 12:00 PM  
Posted By FayeE on 06/25/2020 10:53 AM


I would like your opinion on a serious matter here. Many of our buildings have mold. We have known about this for 2 yrs now. We did bring in someone to look and tell us his opinion . He was a salesman for the paint company that sells the paint to stop mold. He was the one that alerted us all by going to the worse buildings that this is a serious matter. We have wet sills, and mold covering about 7x8 places. 3 of us on the Board said we need to test these buildings to see what kind of mold we are dealing with and then proceed accordingly. BUT the President said no. We found that the water from the sump pumps was flowing on the ground right outside our main front doors and on to the ground and not into our drainage system. We fixed that and the President said we will wait until things dry out but as we all know they mold still exist until it gets damp again and these places are in our sump pump areas that are open to the whole building. Our doors to our storage units are covered in mold. The President seems to be fine with this situation. I did have one compliant that an Owner was asking if it was possible there was mold in his building because he has been having issue with his asthma . I said it would have to be investigated. I was told since my arrival what we discuss in the Board meeting stays there. I do not believe that is right. Yes, personal information should remain private, but all other matters should available to all Homeowners. The President made this very clear that we should not tell the homeowners. I did question why and nothing from him. I did tell 2 of my neighbors about the mold. They were only concerned if it was their building. I said no not like the others. They were relieved but no concern about all other buildings like they have no connection to them. Oh, my building is one of the worst buildings for mold. Also, the Board(including me) can be sued if someone does get ill.





Faye,

If I were in this position, I would feel my personal health was at risk. I would get an Indepedent mild evaluation for my living space and take the results to the Board. If the Board refused to listen, I’m thinking a call should be placed to the health department (in my area this can be done anonymously). Mold, including black mold, can be harmful to the health of residents, including pets. It doesn’t go away simply because the sump pump is fixed.

If the Board is concealing a potential health hazard from the members, action needs to be taken.

Hey New York people, is this appropriate for your Health Dept or the AG?

Above all, keep yourself safe. And keep in mind, not addressing a mold situation once it is discovered can impact your homeowners insurance.
DavidF22
(New York)

Posts:55


06/25/2020 12:16 PM  
Yes, Faye. You can definitely report the matter to the health dept., but they may currently still be too occupied with coronavirus to give it full attention. Also, if your Board is like mine, they will cast you to everyone as a community pariah and blame you for driving property values down instead of keeping the problem secret. In my community, the board struck a quiet deal with our pool maintenance company to skirt the public health regulations on water monitoring. I let it go last summer because the health department would have shut down our pool in mid-season, but it is something I hold in reserve if the board annoys me enough. The board member responsible was stupid enough to put this secret deal in writing and send it to me.
MichelleC8
(California)

Posts:43


06/26/2020 3:11 PM  

I would recommend taking a breath and refocus. I would day I have served on more than my share of boards. I had one board that sounds very similar to this. Our president absolute hated me and yes, that was putting it lightly. Her cronies made up the boards majority. I had to change my approach to things.


For example. We had a huge issue with our management company. Its was very very bad. Pages of issues that the majority just seemed to ignore. It really fell on deaf ears and hard. I noticed the board president always voted for anything presented by one of the other members who seemed to be a little more reasonable. I spoke to him and asked, if I do the work and provide you with a bullet list will you present this to discuss. He dis and she voted and so did her cronies.

Its a horrible case of manipulation but I had to start thinking out of the box. At the end of the day it worked.
FayeE
(New York)

Posts:30


06/27/2020 6:58 PM  
I can only see kissing fannies to make my position better on this Board. Vote the way they do. Give them no conflict. There might be one man that still likes me because we never had conflict on anything and I have helped him since he got on the Board. To use him to do what you did would never work with this man. He would just say I did it and I wanted him to present it. Then it is shot down. Trying to talk to the other 3 well I burned those bridges.I just do not have patience for stupid people and asking stupid questions over and over again. Or we had one member that would always arrive late and everything stopped and we had to tell her everything we had already discussed instead of her just blending in as we moved forward. Thanks for your input and a probably solution dealing with this Board.
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Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Board Issues - I really need help please



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