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Subject: management refuses to give key to A/C., electrical rooms etc
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JackS15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:39


07/27/2020 2:30 PM  
So I got on my board and the president and a few people resigned. We live in a condo with 30 units. Anyway previously me and another board member tried to switch companies but we could never get the key to the electrical room or the Air conditioning rooms so we couldn't get quotes. I just found out that they said it was a liability to give us a key to those rooms. Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies. I just want to make sure it is illegal what they are doing and if you have any legal documentation i can show them?
JackS15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:39


07/27/2020 2:32 PM  
https://www.docdroid.net/YCHyHyD/declaration-of-trust11-2-pdf
here are the condo documents
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 2:39 PM  
I think your board could either (1) have the HOA attorney send the management company a letter to turn over everything, especially keys, post-haste, or else. This will be expensive; or (2) contact a locksmith and see how much it would take for him/her to open the doors and change the locks. I think this will be far less expensive.

This forum gets many reports of dismissed management companies failing to turn over HOA/condo property.
JackS15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:39


07/27/2020 4:04 PM  
illegal to not give us the key to the A/C. electrical, trash rooms so we can get quotes to change management companies. Since the condo owners own the building
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3460


07/27/2020 4:06 PM  
Posted By JackS15 on 07/27/2020 2:30 PM
So I got on my board and the president and a few people resigned. We live in a condo with 30 units. Anyway previously me and another board member tried to switch companies but we could never get the key to the electrical room or the Air conditioning rooms so we couldn't get quotes. I just found out that they said it was a liability to give us a key to those rooms. Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies. I just want to make sure it is illegal what they are doing and if you have any legal documentation i can show them?




If you wanted to know if something was illegal or not, why didn't you just ask your association's attorney in the first place?

And before you did that, did you ask the property manager why giving you the keys would be considered a liability? Maybe there's language to this effect in your management company contract -did you read it? It may be there's equipment or controls that should only be handled by professionals and there could be a concern if someone with no license goes poking around in there. Perhaps someone caused a safety of operations issue (maybe both) when he/she/they thought the rooms cou!d double as storage space.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have access, but I also wonder if you've thought the matter all the way through. For example, this might have been resolved by si.pot working with the manager to have someone from the management company there with one or two board members and the prospective vendors to answer questions as the room and equipment were inspected. That may serve as a useful visit to the board members who could then share what they learned so all of you would have a little more to go on when the bids finally came in.

By the way I don't see what the resignation of the other board members is related to this, but for some reason I smell drama. No need to go into details, just focus on the issue at hand. Talk to the property manager after reading your contract - you'll need to know what's in it anyway if you decide you'd like to change companies.

One more thing is this hankering to change companies a result of this or is this yet another chapter of bad blood between the association and the company? Changing managers is no small thing, so if you're new to the board and don't know all of the history and nuances, you and your colleagues need to think about this and what will be required to ensure a smooth transition. There are several older conversations on this website about the care and feeding of
Property management companies - read a few and then sit down with your colleagues and make a plan.



MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9532


07/27/2020 4:18 PM  
Have you read the contract and terms between the MC and the HOA? They are hired contractors and have to have a contract. So you can't just randomly end the contract. There should be an end date or how long you have to give notice to end it. Typically 30 days depending on the reasons etc.

Who owns the building/condos? If it is the owners, then you should be able to hire a locksmith and change the locks. This will allow you to have access to those rooms to get your bids. Plus make sure those keys are kept within responsible hands. No more MC unless you all want it that way.

That is the real "legal" question you need to ask. Is it legal for the HOA to change the locks/keys to these doors? Maybe ask a locksmith cause they should know. They have legal standards to meet. Which typically means they can't replace locks/keys without proof of ownership.

The big issue is if you do change the locks, how do you send that bill to the MC to pay?

Former HOA President
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:370


07/27/2020 5:11 PM  
Posted By JackS15 on 07/27/2020 2:30 PM
So I got on my board and the president and a few people resigned. We live in a condo with 30 units. Anyway previously me and another board member tried to switch companies but we could never get the key to the electrical room or the Air conditioning rooms so we couldn't get quotes. I just found out that they said it was a liability to give us a key to those rooms. Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies. I just want to make sure it is illegal what they are doing and if you have any legal documentation i can show them?




What do getting keys have to do with changing management companies? Worse case you pay a locksmith after you change companies.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7502


07/27/2020 5:22 PM  
MarkW rises a good point, Jack. Do you even have a quorum of a Board right now so that you can conduct business? How many directors do your Bylaws say you must have? How many do you have? In other words, what gives you the authority to have possession or the keys? Or to change locks?

Is you management company (MC) still your HOA's contractor? What do you need to do to dismiss the MC? How much notice must your give them?

On one hand, our Bylaws (and CA Corps. Code) give directors the right to have access to any rooms in our high rise. But most certainly a manager or the building engineer would accompany me (a director) to, say, the Electrical Rooms for safety reasons.

To tell the truth, it doesn't sound like much homework has been done about what you, Jack, and your buddy are permitted to do since you're just two members of perhaps an incomplete board.

AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 5:31 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/27/2020 5:03 PM
Let's say they have a board of five, the OP stated the president and a few others resigned. That means you don't have a governing body that can take action.
I think not. Suppose only one person remains on the Board of Trustees and no one else is agreeable to being appointed (pursuant to Article III of the Declaration of Trust linked above). If someone takes this to court, then either the Trust lands in the hands of a receiver, or the sole person willing to run the HOA gets appointed with orders to follow the governing documents as best she or he can and to seek appointees.
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 5:57 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/27/2020 5:52 PM
Unlike you, I do this five living and know the law better in this area.
If this were true, you would have read this Massachusetts condo's Trust and Massachusett's nonprofit corporation law as it pertains to directors resigning et cetera, whence you would not have posted the nonsense you did.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7502


07/27/2020 6:09 PM  
So, Augustine, it sounds like the first thing Jack & his director fried must do is appoint more directors if any Owners are willing to serve. Is that right?
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 6:41 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 07/27/2020 6:09 PM
So, Augustine, it sounds like the first thing Jack & his director fried must do is appoint more directors if any Owners are willing to serve. Is that right?
Respectfully, I think you know how they should proceed as well as I do: Per the terms of the Trust and per applicable statutes. Article III, Section A of the Trust speaks of appointments to fill vacancies and court action by members, if needed, to fill these vacancies. But Article III, Section A closes with:

--- Start Art. III, Section A, last paragraph ---
"The foregoing provisions of this Section to the contrary notwithstanding, despite any vacancy in the office of Trustee, however caused and for whatever duration, the remaining or surviving Trustees, subject to the provisions of the immediately following Section, shall continue to exercise and discharge all of the powers, discretions and duties hereby conferred or imposed upon the Trustees."
--- End Art. III, Section A, last paragraph ---

Section B states, in a few sentences, that the remaining Trustees are to act via a majority vote.

I do not see anything in Massachusetts statutes overriding the above.

As far as I am concerned, MarkW8's assertion that business cannot be conducted by this board assumes facts not in evidence.

If you are concerned about the following statement:

Posted By JackS15 on 07/27/2020 2:30 PM
Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies.


then I agree with your concern.

But under Article III, Section A, whatever board exists at this point is entitled, by majority vote, to order the management company to turn over the keys or else. A manager responding, "I do not have to, because this is not a lawful board," like MarkW18 insists, is itching to get fired sooner rather than later.
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 7:13 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/27/2020 5:03 PM
Let's say they have a board of five, the OP stated the president and a few others resigned. That means you don't have a governing body that can take action.


Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2020 6:41 PM

[From the Declaration of Trust, linked by the OP in his second post--]
--- Start Art. III, Section A, last paragraph ---
"The foregoing provisions of this Section to the contrary notwithstanding, despite any vacancy in the office of Trustee, however caused and for whatever duration, the remaining or surviving Trustees, subject to the provisions of the immediately following Section, shall continue to exercise and discharge all of the powers, discretions and duties hereby conferred or imposed upon the Trustees."
--- End Art. III, Section A, last paragraph ---
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/27/2020 7:33 PM  
Posted By MarkW18 on 07/27/2020 7:08 PM
You might want to read Article III, Section B. They can act only with a majority of quorum. Guess what, unlike Jack says something difference, they DON'T have a quorum!
Nope, wrong again. From the Declaration of Trust, Article V. Bylaws, Section F. Meetings.

"1. ... A majority of Trustees shall constitute a quorum at all meetings. ... "


JackS15
(Massachusetts)

Posts:39


07/29/2020 12:55 PM  
u guys mentioned HOA attorney. We currently don't have one and was wondering what the going rate is not that we could afford it.
AugustinD


Posts:3900


07/29/2020 1:12 PM  
Many of the condominium law firms and attorneys listed at the followign site will consult for free about rates: https://www.lawyers.com/condominium-law/boston/massachusetts/law-firms/

I would seek an annual retainer that offers a certain number of (say) ten minute phone calls at no charge, with more detailed discussions billed at whatever rate the law firm charges. Such packages seem to be becoming popular nationwide among condominium attorneys.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


07/29/2020 1:48 PM  
Posted By JackS15 on 07/29/2020 12:55 PM
u guys mentioned HOA attorney. We currently don't have one and was wondering what the going rate is not that we could afford it.



Be sure the lawyer has experience with your associations physical set up ala private homes, townhouses, high rise condos, etc. The laws, situations, nuances, etc are not always the same.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


07/29/2020 1:51 PM  
JAck

I would say the MC cannot withhold property access/keys from any BOD Member. I would just get a locksmith to change the locks and send the MC new key(s) plus a bill for the locksmith to them personally and the BOD keep a set of keys.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3113


07/29/2020 2:27 PM  
Reread this thread a bit ...

It would appear the remaining board members should put together an agenda, notice the community as required by your Bylaws and state, appoint additional board members (assuming your Bylaws and state allow this), and elect a president, treasurer and secretary.

Once this is done, at the same Board meeting, the Board should vote a search committee for a new management company, and a motion passed allowing the president to contract with a locksmith (and other contractors as required) to manage your facilities.

Then, the president can call a locksmith, and have the locks changed.

In other words - retake control of your community.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1540


07/30/2020 11:00 AM  
Posted By JackS15 on 07/27/2020 2:30 PM
So I got on my board and the president and a few people resigned. We live in a condo with 30 units. Anyway previously me and another board member tried to switch companies but we could never get the key to the electrical room or the Air conditioning rooms so we couldn't get quotes. I just found out that they said it was a liability to give us a key to those rooms. Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies. I just want to make sure it is illegal what they are doing and if you have any legal documentation i can show them?




The whole process seems emotionally driven. If the full board were functional or supportive, quotes would be obtained and access to mechanical rooms would be given. I sense there's more to this story from an internal political perspective.

I wonder if Jack's own board (or remnant of a board) is holding him back.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


07/30/2020 12:11 PM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 07/30/2020 11:00 AM
Posted By JackS15 on 07/27/2020 2:30 PM
So I got on my board and the president and a few people resigned. We live in a condo with 30 units. Anyway previously me and another board member tried to switch companies but we could never get the key to the electrical room or the Air conditioning rooms so we couldn't get quotes. I just found out that they said it was a liability to give us a key to those rooms. Now that I have majority people on my side I want to change management companies. I just want to make sure it is illegal what they are doing and if you have any legal documentation i can show them?




The whole process seems emotionally driven. If the full board were functional or supportive, quotes would be obtained and access to mechanical rooms would be given. I sense there's more to this story from an internal political perspective.

I wonder if Jack's own board (or remnant of a board) is holding him back.




Good point.
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