Q&A: Cruisin' for Collusion

Q I live in a condo community that is supposed to be represented by its board members and the board attorney but the two seemingly only serve themselves. In researching this board attorney, I am finding that he writes for several newsletters and contributes articles about how communities are supposed to be run, about the job of the board members and what their duties are. He states what's right and what's wrong; yet in the community which he is supposed to be serving, he appears to be doing the complete opposite. The paying members of my community get no budgets, no financials, no accounting for any of the monies and no board meeting minutes. None of the meetings are posted for anyone to see or to attend. So how do you fight against a board and its attorney who know they are 100 percent wrong but don't care and just use owners’ money to sue those members? Where are the people who are supposed to govern these associations? They basically aren't held accountable for anything, and they know it. It's a big free-for-all with the thousands of dollars that they collect from all of us.

—Who’s Accountable in Astoria Heights

A “A condominium is managed by its board of managers, which has the right to hire counsel,” according to Steven Troup, a partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Tarter, Krinsky & Drogin, LLP. “Counsel takes his or her instructions from the board. The reader states, apparently, that the board is suing unit owners but gives no details about what the lawsuits are about.

“Most condo bylaws provide that the board must provide an annual financial statement to all unit owners, typically an audited statement. There usually is no requirement that board meetings be open to unit owners, or that board minutes be distributed to unit owners. The reader should send a certified letter to the board or managing agent demanding access to read the minutes.

A unit owner’s ultimate remedy for an ineffective or unresponsive board is to seek to unseat the board by obtaining as many unit owner signatures as possible on a letter/petition to the board calling for a special meeting to (1) remove the current board members and (2) elect a new board. One must follow the bylaws carefully in doing this, and obtain as many proxies from other unit owners as possible to vote at the special meeting. If the board ignores the petition, the reader should consult competent counsel to advise what other remedies may be available, such as a court action.”

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