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Subject: Board member harassment
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Author Messages
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/26/2020 5:17 PM  
I am a new Board member. The Board members (5, including me) have been there a long long time, 23 yeaars, [email protected] 15 years, 1 at years and me. I started last October. I had the glamorous ideal I would be working for the wonderful community and protecting home values and preserving the common grounds etc. Well, that idea is gone, the Board is primarily interested in breaking the bylaws and finding a lawyer who says all the bylaws are too weak and not enforceable. The President has about 12 violations. No one wants to do anything and so they ignore, put off, postphone everything. I am the only one who votes "no" on many of their motions.

I have been visited twice by a "friend" of the 3 males on the board and basically told I might be fired if I, in effect continued the "drama. I am yelled at during the meetings because I called a couple Attorneys to get their fee schedule etc. to help the Board decide who to get. They maintain our Bylaws are not enforceable, so I asked, why are we here? That annoyed most of them, but the President seconded it!! Unreal. I don't know what to do. I am tempted to resign, but that's not my style. Help with some suggestions,please.
Thanks!
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9410


06/26/2020 5:31 PM  
Maybe it's your view that may need to change. Many people disagree with me, but "Property value" is based on REAL #'s. It's NOT subjective to opinion or wants/desires. What a HOA is to do is to keep the property ATTRACTIVE to potential buyers so they want to buy at good prices. Trying to "Keep values" is going to a lot of chasing your own tails.

Lawyers for HOA's are really needed for representing the HOA in court. You may need one to send out a letter or two. However, over all you never really need a full time on retainer lawyer. I wouldn't even pay a lawyer a retainer unless it was a court case. Don't need one for them to file liens or do foreclosures. Plus you don't need a Real Estate attorney. Your HOA is incorporated and a business. A specialized HOA attorney or one with corporate law knowledge would do.

By laws are just guidelines after all and easily changed. Plus does your HOA have the right to fine and have a fining schedule to enforce?

Former HOA President
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2794


06/26/2020 5:41 PM  
Melissa is playing her violin on the property value point. Ignore this, please.

OP - your post does not sound like you have a full grasp of how corporations work.

You don’t call attorneys for fee schedules without board agreement,

You can’t be fired.

Sigh ... you are saying things that simply jack everyone up... and accomplish nothing.

You’ve bought into the female v male thing ... another management dead end.

Do you know your CCRs? Bylaws? Michigan HOA statutes? Rules and Regs, if you have them? Process for Board meeting? Have you studied the massive amount of “how to” on HOA functions and processes?
SueW6
(Michigan)

Posts:703


06/27/2020 2:23 AM  
Unenforceable? Multiple bylaw violations?

Sounds like your bylaws need to be re-written for modern times.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:974


06/27/2020 3:26 AM  
Why are your bylaws not enforceable?

Just get other owners to support you and maybe run for some of the other board seats in the next election. And stand firm.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1068


06/27/2020 5:08 AM  
The first thing that every brand new, first time HOA board member needs to learn is: you don't know squat. You've got a mountain of a learning curve to climb, especially if you haven't spent any time in the corporate world. The board works as a single entity, and no one board member has any right to go off on their own and do things. If you believe you can wade in and change things to suit yourself, you're going to run up against experienced board members who do know what they're doing. You should expect push back.

The experienced board may or may not be good at their jobs. The idea that they can remove someone from the board is flat out wrong. However, "fire" may also mean removing a director from their officer position, which they very much can do. So this alleged threat may not signify much of anything.

Also, when lawyers talk about unenforceable provisions, they're usually talking about the CC&Rs, especially the R (ie, restrictions), and not the bylaws. The terms are not interchangeable. And poorly worded or out-of-date governing docs are not unusual, especially in older communities. Finally, if previous boards have not been enforcing the CC&Rs and other community rules, it can open the board to charges of selective enforcement if a homeowner challenges a violation notice, which can effectively make something unenforceable. This also is not surprising and may not mean anything one way or the other.

We had a newbie director who spent her first year stamping her little feetses because she wasn't getting things her way, rather than buckling down and trying the learn the ropes. The result was that she antagonized everyone including our PM, and now in her third year still doesn't know what she needs to know. But according to her the previous board stopped her from making all of these great changes, when in fact she was running up against our CC&Rs. The worst thing is that uninformed or apathetic homeowners may believe her nonsense, which has led to my firm belief that homeowners get the boards they deserve.

My advice to all newbie directors is: before assuming nefarious intent, learn why things are being done the way they are. You'll save yourself and everyone around you a whole lot of unnecessary grief.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2794


06/27/2020 5:26 AM  
Wow, Cathy ... you said what I meant waaay better! 😀
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/27/2020 5:26 AM  
Thanks for your responses. I understand completely what you are saying. I have been trying to learn and understand how this board works and the management agency for months. I ask questions and they say, mostly they dont know the answer, as it has "always been this way" and to ask the management agent. So I ask the management and he says he doesnt have time to answer all my e-mails, doesnt get paid enough etc. So has given his notice, says it isn't just me, it's all the sudden co-owner complaints and one has an attorneyETC.As I said before, one Director has been on the Board 20+ years, 2 others 15 years, 1,5. And then me. I think our bylaws are fairly well written and we should be able to use them. But 2 Directors, both real buddies. One with many 4 coowners wanting violation filed etc. It is a mess. But I love the community and will see this through. Any other suggestions?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1068


06/27/2020 6:52 AM  
Up your game. Develop political skills. Learn your governing docs backwards, forwards and sideways so that you can give solid reasons for your opinions. Understand that there are many paths to a goal, and sometimes the indirect path gets you there the quickest. Be pragmatic. Learn to pick your battles. Develop enough knowledge and judgement so that you know which fights are winnable and which ones aren't. NOt all issues are equally important. Understand that you can only do what you can do, and sometimes you just can't.

There: Fifteen years of board experience in one paragraph. :-)
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1068


06/27/2020 6:54 AM  
And one more: Always keep learning, because there always will be more to learn.

(That's why a lot of us experienced board members and property managers hang out on this site. We're still learning.)
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/27/2020 7:43 AM  
Thank you!
DavidF22
(New York)

Posts:55


06/27/2020 8:40 AM  
Be very wary of entrenched board members. Few do it very long for the good of the community. Most are on a power trip or have self-dealing issues. If you are honest, have common sense, have the community’s best interests in mind, are fair to all homeowners (even the ones you don’t like) and treat the community funds as carefully as you would your own, then you are not the odd one on the board. They are.

Don’t let them tell you otherwise. They will try to marginalize you so they can continue to hide mismanagement or corruption from the homeowners. Resist.
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/27/2020 8:51 AM  
That is the best advice, comment yet! Thank you for your support, I need it, immensely.
Peg
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7318


06/27/2020 9:06 AM  
you've received some good advice here, Peggy. My fist question is: will you share 2-3 examples of Bylaws the Board violates?
MarkW18


Posts:1185


06/27/2020 10:00 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 06/27/2020 6:54 AM
And one more: Always keep learning, because there always will be more to learn.

(That's why a lot of us experienced board members and property managers hang out on this site. We're still learning.)



I only hang out for a good laugh every once in a while.
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/27/2020 10:18 AM  
Sure! The biggest one has to do with renting. Both in the Master Deed and in the Bylaws, it stresses the Unit use. "No unit in the Condominium shall be used for other than single family Residential purposes, and the common Elements shall be used only for purposes consistent with the use of single family residences." We can lease to another single family for a minimun of 12 months and they (renter) must comply with all requirements of the Condominium documents including restrictions. There is also a bylaw having to do with garages, stating "All single family dwellings shall have attached garages. No carports,detached garage or other out-building shall be erected, placed or permitted to remain on any unit." Co-owners are mostly complaining of violations on these two things as we have a number of renters....with separate entrances, extra cars etc. and a couple ugly "sheds". It mostly has been ignored by the Board and I can't go along with it as it does say in another by-law, Enforcement of Provisions of Condominium Documents. A Co-owner may maintain an action against the Association and its officers and Directors to compel such persons to enforce the terms and provisions of the Condominium Documents. The Board has never done anything. Now, however, there is the possibility of a Co-owner wanting to rent his place to students and so....there is some uproar in the community and understandably so. Perhaps now is the time to write some violation letters? I want to but I am in the minority.....real minority.....only Director who thinks we need to be active instead of silent and still.

So...anymore comments?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1068


06/27/2020 12:25 PM  
You may need to get some additional guidance from an attorney who is well versed in Michigan condo law, but....

As you know, rentals can be a problem.

If your CC&Rs say that your homes are single family residences, I believe that owners could not subdivide their units and rent out a single portion. But double-check with your attorney to make sure whether it needs to be spelled out specifically or whether the "single family residencs" limitation will do it. (My Declaration says that if a unit is rented, it must be the entire unit. So no renting of single rooms or mother-in-law suites. See if you have similar language in yours.)

Many Declarations prohibit "sheds" on the property. It's also usually a violation of housing codes to convert these sheds, garages or other such areas into living space. (My Declaration also prohibits converting garages into living space).

Warning: do NOT state, write, or otherwise indicate that you do not want to rent to students. You're asking for a Fair Housing complaint, and those can get painfully expen$ive. You *may* restrict the kinds of problematic behavior that can come along with large groups of unrelated persons living in a single unit. (Many Declarations also prohibit group housing. I believe this is OK - or at least I haven't heard of any court case that said group housing must be allowed within a community association.)

You may need to amend your CC&Rs to get your rental restriction and probably also the parking restriction to where they need to be. Simply changing the rules won't cut it - rules can't impose additional restrictions beyond what is already in your CC&Rs. The amendments would need to be drafted by an attorney to make sure they comply with all legal requirements. They also would need to be approved by the membership, and usually by a super-majority depending on what your governing docs and state condo law says (usually 67% or 75%). If these are hot button issues right now and problems are fresh in people's minds, this may be the best time to do it.
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/27/2020 1:57 PM  
Thank you so much! You have been very helpful. What about easements? A Coowner has put a concrete slab in the middle of an storm water drainage easement. Our master law says no change in grade to restrict water flow....can homeowner have it removed as she lives next door?
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9569


06/27/2020 2:03 PM  
Posted By PeggyW3 on 06/27/2020 1:57 PM
Thank you so much! You have been very helpful. What about easements? A Coowner has put a concrete slab in the middle of an storm water drainage easement. Our master law says no change in grade to restrict water flow....can homeowner have it removed as she lives next door?




Notify the county/city. Let them handle it.
PeggyW3
(Michigan)

Posts:41


06/28/2020 6:14 AM  
Thanks to all of you for your most informative comments!
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