Q&A: Board Member Crossing the Line

Q I live in a mid-rise condo. A board member took it upon herself to park in a handicap parking spot, requested to use the building’s hose and used the building's water to wash her car. It is not stated in the house rules or bylaws that anyone cannot wash their cars on the premises but the board member is clearly abusing and overstepping their power. What can we do to make sure this does not happen again? Other unit owners have brought up concerns about the member's behavior and lack of consideration. What example is she setting for the board if she parks illegally in a handicap parking spot and proceeds to wash her car using the water that all shareholders’ maintenance dues pay for? What applies to one should apply to all but apparently this board member feels she has special privileges that others don't. How should this be handled?

—Awash in Avalon

A “Certainly, board members are subject to the same rules and regulations as all other owners,” says attorney Ronald L. Perl of the Princeton-based law firm of Hill Wallack LLP. “In my view the first step would be to attempt to find a solution informally. This means contacting the offending board member and if that doesn't work, by making an informal request to the other board members to address the situation. The question suggests that unit owners have brought up concerns informally, although it does not specifically indicate to whom the concerns were expressed. Often times the other board members can persuade the misbehaving trustee to correct his or her behavior. However, that doesn't always work. In that event you can invoke the dispute resolution provisions in the governing documents. Most associations have a Covenants Committee, Judiciary Committee, Rules Committee or the like that provides a due process procedure to rectify rules violations. This process will usually include a hearing at which the grievances can be aired and the appropriate penalties imposed as authorized and warranted. Another more aggressive approach would be a recall petition to remove the board member, if the conduct so warrants. A board member's continual violation of rules and regulations of the association would in my opinion warrant removal if it is not corrected after requests to do so. One other thought. Parking in a handicapped parking space may be a violation of state law, even on private property. In New Jersey, for example, the police are authorized to issue summonses for those who park in properly designated handicap parking spaces. A call to the local authorities could therefore remedy the parking issue.”

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