High & Mighty When Boards Go Overboard

There’s nothing worse than being a unit owner in a building and seeing someone on your board breaking a rule and seemingly getting away with it.

Some board members believe that they are “above the law” so to speak, and seem to be operating under a different set of rules than the rest of the building. This could be anything from giving themselves preferential treatment for parking spots, flouting pet rules, fast-tracking their own alteration projects or voting on financial matters when they themselves are in arrears.

Marc H. Schneider, Esq., the managing partner of the law firm of Schneider Mitola LLP, with offices in Garden City and New York City, has seen his share of board members try to get away with things, and he does what he can to help right the ship.

“I have seen instances where somebody will say ‘you’re seeking to enforce this provision against me, but Board Member A is not being asked to comply with this rule,’” says Schneider. “When it comes to house rules like carpeting—I’ve seen cases where somebody will say ‘but Board Member A doesn’t have 80 percent of their floors covered so why should I?’ I always caution boards that you cannot selectively enforce your governing documents. In most cases I find that board members follow their bylaws. Have I ever seen a board or board member not follow their own bylaws? Of course I have.”

“I have certainly seen cases where board members have a tendency to think that they should not be bound by their own bylaws,” adds Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a managing partner with the law firm of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP in New York City. “But I’d prefer not to get into specifics.”

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4 Comments

  • whom might I contact to discuss the contents of this article? I am a shareholder in a Queens NY coop who has concerns about board behavior
  • charles Farman: 117 East 24th St on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:22 PM
    What do you do when board-member R. Eng has placed one friend as the condo's attorney & hired the manager who only follows his orders regardless of breaking rules. Blocking audited Financial Statements passed 7 years, not allowing access to records. Condo has had largest increases in assessments during this period.The only Financial statement that has been provided was in last 2 years of their own not audited records. Rummers of false Invoices &insurance fraud & double standards and are protect by strict secrecy of Board communication. each time a shareholder complains. Board finds some reason to place a penalty on them. Is there an escape from this nightmare?. thank you Charles
  • Not much you can do, seems like Congress is holding new laws stale in the Senate. For one, is the Co op and Condo Ombudsman which will give the Attorney General oversight. My cooperative board is criminal to the core, no shareholder meetings, shareholders know this board is ruthless and can harass them and do. Same board members for years. And of course, they hire the management company soooo...going to the management company is just a ludicrous thought, they are not licensed either. So, Id say do whatever you need to do to push those laws through.
  • The board is kicking out my boyfriend of 10 years out of my unit becasue he is not immediate family. (He is my common law husband but not recognized in FL) due to the fact I have been out of state taking care of Hospice parent in another state. Anything I can do?