A condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association elects a board for a specific purpose: to manage the community’s day-to-day business, oversee special projects, and draft and uphold the rules and regulations that keep life orderly and harmonious. In fact, the board has an inflexible fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the community as a whole.
This means that boards have an obligation to stay consistently on the side of good, advocating for residents and promoting neighborly well-being – and most boards do just this. However, boards are made up of humans, and humans are wildly fallible. Having sampled even a morsel of power, some find themselves starving for more; oftentimes other, less malicious folks simply make mistakes, and rather than correct them, keep on stumbling down a wrong path.
Once a board crosses over to the dark side, it can mean serious consequences for not only its members, but every owner or shareholder in the building or HOA. Infighting, backstabbing, loss of funds, declining property values, and even legal consequences may well ensue if the ship isn’t righted.
As Henry A. Goodman, a principal with Goodman, Shapiro & Lombardi, LLC, a law firm that has offices in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, puts it, “In any organization, things can go wrong; either by virtue of error in judgment, human frailty, or even corruption of one sort or another.”
It’s imperative that both boards and residents be aware of the reasons and signs that an operation has gone bad, in order to avoid the former and correct the latter as quickly as possible.