High & Mighty When Boards Go Overboard

There’s nothing worse than being a unit owner in a building and seeing someone on your board breaking a rule and seemingly getting away with it.

Some board members believe that they are “above the law” so to speak, and seem to be operating under a different set of rules than the rest of the building. This could be anything from giving themselves preferential treatment for parking spots, flouting pet rules, fast-tracking their own alteration projects or voting on financial matters when they themselves are in arrears.

Allison L. Hertz, a lawyer with the law firm of Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC in West Palm Beach has seen her share of board members try to get away with things, and she does what she can to help right the ship.

“Most violations are not intentional,” Hertz says. “The great majority of board members are highly conscious of the other residents and really strive to set a good example. Unfortunately, I have seen others use their position to achieve a personal objective or vendetta against another resident or a prior board.”

“Board members not following their own bylaws happens more than you’d like it to happen,” adds Raymond A. Piccin, a partner with the community association law firm of Katzman Garfinkel & Berger in Fort Myers. “There are two reasons. One is obviously intentional—which is probably the worst-case scenario—and the second is unintentional. A lot of boards usually adopt what the prior board did. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into situations where I’ve read the documents to them and they say, ‘We’ve been doing it this way for 20 years.’ That may be so, but that doesn’t make it right. I would say eight out of 10 times it’s innocent, but there is a small percentage [who do things] for nefarious reasons: either they want to get back on the board to get other people off the board or some other reason.”

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