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Board Talk: A Conversation About Removing the Board

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My condo has a very high maintenance fee. In addition, the management company that the board contracted charges an exorbitant amount in fees. The unit-owners are fed up, and I’ve secured signatures from a majority of the unit-owners to overthrow the board. My question: is that all I need to remove the board? Who do I send the “you have been fired” letter to? The board president got wind of this, and she went around and told people that the letter is not enough to remove her and the rest of the managers from the board. She said we’d need to call a meeting and we’d have to have a quorum.

In the past, getting a quorum in the meeting has always been extremely difficult because most of the owners don’t live in the building (they rent their units out). I checked the house rules and the rules say that the board can be removed with or without a cause, and it didn’t say we’d have to have a live meeting just to have them removed from the board.

How is this normally done? If I have a letter from the majority of the unit-owners, can’t I just present it to the board president? Can’t we then have a meeting to re-elect the new board? Can the unit-owners send in a proxy form nominating the new board without showing up in person?

First, your building’s governing documents should have a provision regarding this kind of vote. Usually, you have to call a meeting through a petition (10 or 25 percent of the residents; I’m not sure). Then, offer a vote to remove a board member. Finally, you need an election to vote in a new board. All this with the help/supervision of the building attorney. Proper forms, vote count, and records must be kept. Any mistake can void the removal/election. Residents can vote by proxy. It’s the law. You do have someone to replace them, right? It is very counterproductive to remove an entire board in just one shot. There needs to be some continuity in supervising/follow-up building affairs. Good luck.

I don’t think “the help/supervision of the building attorney” is practical in this situation. The building attorney is retained by the current board. As such, they are not interested in helping the condo owners to overthrow their “employer.” We are thinking about getting our own attorney, and after the board is replaced, we will switch out the whole package, i.e., the attorney, the management company, and the super.

I don’t know the particulars of your building’s finances. I am concerned that making a blanket statement about “high maintenance charges = bad board,” though. That being said, it could mean a “bad board.” I would suggest that you take a look at what level of finances your building needs to be fiscally sustainable, have cash reserves, and be able to spend wisely (in order to lower expenses). My fear on reading your post is that you might replace one board with another one – only to have the same basic fiscal drivers impacting both. Good luck!

Now in my second term as president, I would greatly caution against equating high charges with a “bad” board. I now understand what it takes to run a building – and in our case, repair and maintain – and while in the ideal world, low maintenance and low management fees would be lovely, that is not the reality when dealing with upkeep, bills, unexpected needs, etc. If the board is not communicating this need, then that is an issue that is easily resolved. It sounds to me like there is a big gap between board operations and what owners understand. I think the route to take is closing that gap rather than replacing everyone. Trust me, once you sit in a board member’s seat, your perspective changes. In the end, it is to satisfy the long-term needs of owners...and that often requires money. If you had a private home – a house – you would probably see that more clearly.

Board Talk is an online discussion forum where board members can post questions to which other board members can respond.

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