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.”