Q&A: President as Maintenance Supervisor

Q We have a situation at our condo association regarding the likely possibility of changing our maintenance from a contractor to a direct hire. It has been widely speculated that our board president would be the candidate for the position of maintenance supervisor. But, basically our board president would, if the job gets board approval, be in charge of maintenance and possibly other direct hires if they decide to replace other service providers. In all likelihood, our board president would have to vote for himself for the job for it to pass. He is also not saying that he would step down from the board.

This has all been speculated and we’re not sure if it will happen; however, many of us are wondering if this can be done legally. What can we do about it if a majority of the board approves this?

—Conflicted in a Condo

A “Unless this condominium’s master deed and/or bylaws prohibit same, it is elementary that the board of a condominium can decide to procure maintenance services via an independent firm, or direct employee, with the vote or approval of the unit owners. In turn, as a general and initial matter, the board can take a direct employee for these services, on the condominium’s behalf,” says David Byrne, a shareholder attorney with the firm of Stark & Stark in Lawrenceville.

“The next threshold inquiry involved here is that relating to N.J.S.A. 46:8B-13(a). This provision of New Jersey’s Condominium Act provides: ‘...all meetings of that governing board, except conference or working sessions at which no binding votes are to be taken, shall be open to attendance by all unit owners, and adequate notice of any such meeting shall be given to all unit owners in such manner as the bylaws shall prescribe…’

“While this provision includes language empowering a condominium board to make ‘employment’ decisions at meetings not open to attendance by owners, that should be interpreted as involving employment matters after the actual decision is made to create the employment. This ‘open meeting’ provision of the condominium act does not entitle the unit owners to participate in any board votes and/or discussions surrounding the decision to engage the direct employee. The board must simply either vote on the hiring at a board meeting (proper notice having been given) open to the attendance of unit owners, or ‘ratify’ a prior decision in that regard, at such an open meeting.

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Comments

  • I think I know this place. It is Society Hill @ Piscataway. The board president is working here all day and even on weekends. He is basically running the place making all decisions. I see what it says here that is not illegal to be on the board and work here but when the person is on the board as the president his decisions dirrectly affects his own desires as far as working here and his decisions are a conflict of interest.