When Boards Don’t Play by the Rules Controlling Rogue Board Members

Many if not most boards get along famously. There are boards that have had the same members for decades and run their communities without a hitch.

“Ninety percent of boards run very, very well,” says James Donnelly, CEO and the president of Castle Management in Plantation. “Conflicts arise in, by far, the minority of situations.”

We frequently get calls from readers who are troubled when they find that their board members seem to be operating under a different set of rules than the rest of the community. For example, they get preferential treatment for parking spots, ignore pet rules, fast-track their own alteration projects, fail to pay their assessments on time, and disrupt board and shareholder meetings. Rogue board members negatively affect building morale, erode residents' confidence in their board, and can even have serious legal ramifications as well.

Role Playing

A potential driver of the “rogue board member” phenomenon is the evolution of the job description. This is not your father’s board. “The management business has become much more sophisticated,” observes Paul Patti, president of Hawk-Eye Management in Boca Raton. “Two decades ago, a property manager did the financials, and they did what they called a walk-through or drive-through of the property, and that was all that was expected. We’re now in a situation where a lot of our board members are a lot more sophisticated. A lot of them are CEOs or ex-CEOs of companies, which in many cases is a positive thing, but it can become very difficult because they can become a little dictatorial.”

Again, this is both good and bad. This sort of board member can reinvigorate a moribund board, and be the agents of positive change for a community. Even in cases when the board member takes it too far, there are benefits. But the board of an HOA is not a board of a Fortune 500 company. There are no corporate jets, golden parachutes, or other cushy perks. If that's the sort of environment a director is accustomed to, the humble trappings of the HOA board member can take some getting used to.


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  • My daughter lives in a community that has a "Rogue Board" in South Florida. When she asked for a copy of the minutes from board meetings and Profit and Loss Statements, they contacted an attorney, NEVER gave her what she asked for and then had their attorney who lives with V-Pres. of the HOA, charge her for their decision to ask for this attorney's advice. She is young and in school. They ran her legal fees up to $3800 and had her write out post dated and signed checks to them for the next 2 years. Much more to this. Irate Parent. Just found this out today! President of HOA is actually suing someone who is running for the board in November 3rd election, because she made up flyers introducing herself with bio and walked around the community, knocking on doors and meeting her neighbors. President is suing her for solicitation, which is prohibited. HOA board pays NO HOA fees and some members have been on there for 20 years. Community members don't trust them to count the votes for the upcoming election. What can they do about this Gestapo HOA board. My daughter is afraid of these people and cannot even get a copy of the HOA by-laws. They have told her for a year, that they are being worked on, when she asks for a copy. Please call me with information on where we can get what the state of Florida says you can do about people like these. My daughter feels that there could be misappropriation of funds here too.
  • The president of my condominium association is doing the same things mentioned in the article. What are some steps I can take to make a change?
  • The president in our building is over 40 days in arrears and there has not been a regular BOD meeting in almost 2 years. Last year he went 60 days but finally paid. I think we should record a lien to protect lending priority. There is a moving POD in parking lot and he was seen loading it up. Other board members know about this but trust him because he has a CAM license. I approached the secretary about this and was told I should be very afraid and very worried as they are taking some sort of legal action against me. I don't know what to do and am scared.
  • I have a question. Is there any ramifications against a Board Member when they've disclosed information to an owner (the rule breaker) that another owner has come to them with regarding breaking of the Rules which has now caused friction and even attempted confrontation towards the owner that reported the violation. The violation reported to this board member resulted in the owner's car being towed for violating a parking rule. It seems like I've read somewhere in the past that board members must keep that type of information confidential and that its grounds for immediate resignation from the said board member if they don't abide by that rule??? Please help if possible
  • I just bought a unit in Florida, Deer Beach, everything was approved by the Association, but during this transaction, I am outside the country due to bussiness, the President want to have a face to face interview, he doesn’t accept by phone, or via FaceTime, so because I will not be there till February, he told me I cannot buy the Unit. Is this Illegal? Who gives to this people so much power? I have an accent, I really think that was a main reason. Where can I go to complaint. Thanks
  • Abuse and Misconduct on Friday, March 22, 2019 3:29 PM
    We have an association that formed without the vote according to our original covenants. Five members that have made life hell in this subdivision. I never joined or pay dues, but last year they put a spurious lien on my property on name just lot #. I thought I found a good lawyer to take them to court and remove the lien, but between the judge and tow attorneys the judge ruled in the association favor. Now I have to pay the lien, but I do not want to be part of this corrupt association. If I pay the lien I will become a member after 35 years of living in this subdivision before an association was formed. The judge ruled on a circumstantial evidence as the developers turned all rights obligations and powers to this association not knowing they formed without a vote. They also rewrote our original covenants without the vote, and they run homeowners out of our subdivision that do not support them. They are going to come after me now, they also spread rumors and slander homeowners. Can I do anything I have to pay the lien of 499.00 that includes 6 years, int. fees and penalties then they did not have a policy to put int, and fees on top of the lien. They stated in their documents that homeowners are eligible to join and become a member I saw them as voluntary association, not ht judge ruled they are mandatory because before they formed the developers had a meeting and got a clear majority in voting to amend the covenants that had nothing to do with future association or anything specific.
  • Additional info, during the hearing the association admitted they did not have any documents to ask for int. fines or penalties, and did not have the vote. I was not at fault and conducted myself in a prof. manner, the association has two weeks to come up with supportive doc to apply int and fines. If they can not produce these docs and rely on the covenants before they formed then this is unconscionable. There must be some way I do not have to become a member, the original covenant said, if the majority want to form an association then all must abide..... This is not what happened, they offered me a plea deal before the judge ruled to walk away, remove the lien, each party pay own attorney fee, and recognize them as an assoc. I countered agreed to everything except for the last offer, I would recognize them as a corporation but not association. They counter offered with worse results. So it was up to the judge,
  • Sleepless but not in seattle on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 12:48 PM
    We have an 11 house single family home subdivision. When they handed over the hoa from our builders a few homeowners started going around plotting their take over. now they are doing things technically right but are also doing things that are unnecessary like planning on dictating a bunch of things that werent in the hoa docs i reviewed when i bought my home . they havent published anything yet but the constant noise and gossip and whispering among these 11 homeonwers is driving us nuts and creating tension. I wish the hoa documents didnt allow the board to basically deviate from the original rules. The hoa doesnt have enough money to sue anyone but i think they are so full of themselves that they will bully and work around the clock to dot the i's and cross the t's we cant afford another home after just buying this one. my point is some rogue boards operate in public properly but are abusive in what they do behind the scenes and you cant prove it and they carefully build support with people for a year or so before doing anything