Bringing in a New Board Inheriting a Mess

When it comes to running a building or community association, all board members are not created equal—at least not when it comes to administrative ability and skill. Some bring experience in construction or backgrounds in law, finance, or other professions that can be helpful to a board. Others bring little insight or professionalism to the group, and seem more concerned with personal vendettas, cronyism or other compromising pursuits. It can be a frustrating fact of democracy that rule “by the people” means that sometimes, things will be done poorly, or at least not ideally.

Thrown Into the Deep End

With the degree of professionalism on boards varying so widely, it probably comes as no surprise that some boards (or at least some members of boards) make a mess of managing their communities. Some boards can go so completely wrong that residents are compelled to vote individual members—or even the entire board—out of office and start from scratch.

When new board members join their building or association’s administrative team during such a time of crisis, they have to hit the ground running and deal with the community’s problems immediately. Often, they must do so with little guidance and no training. But given the right information, new board members can take the reins of a troubled HOA and smooth the transition. With savvy advice, new board members can avoid the pitfalls that contributed to their predecessor’s failures.

Musical Chairs

While it is not very common for an entire board to be replaced due to resident dissatisfaction, it does occasionally happen. More commonly, one board member or a few board members will be replaced through an election. Cases of gross mismanagement or outright fraud by a board can quickly disaffect residents and can lead to the board’s unceremonious ouster.

Although it doesn’t happen very often, a total board replacement is not a good situation, says attorney Wendell A. Smith of Woodbridge-based law firm Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP.

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