When one board member becomes dominant and pushes the building’s plan in the wrong direction, you could find your living circumstances problematic—potentially impacting your condo or co-op building’s safety. We have previously discussed strict co-op boards, but you can typically avoid this situation before moving in if you find the rules too restrictive.
You do not have to accept a single board member’s decisions meekly. There are ways to recognize the situation and deal with it for your betterment and the entire building.
A dominant memberA dominant member
If you are not a board member, you can read the minutes or sit at specific meetings, such as the annual meeting. It is enough to let you know if a member is not participating democratically but seeks to dominate the session and push their agenda.
Other warning signs include the individual trying to lobby other members, perhaps in one-on-one conversations outside the official meeting. These are out of the ordinary and not within a board’s rules. If the board member defies the house rules, this should also raise a red flag.
The harmThe harm
You may wonder if this is a bad thing, mainly if they use this power to advance a common agenda. Problems arise, even with the best intentions, since the board ceases to function appropriately and engage in a proper dialogue about the issues. In a worst-case scenario, this director pushes their agenda, even in conflict with the board’s fiduciary duty.
How to stop a rogue memberHow to stop a rogue member
A nominating committee can help weed out undesirable board members. However, if they already sit on the board, there are various ways to deal with a member that dominates meetings and does not listen to other viewpoints, to the detriment of the building and its residents. The first step is for a trusted resident or board member to discuss the issue with the individual. Perhaps they are unfamiliar with how a co-op or condo board works and needs to understand better how it functions, aside from the responsibilities, duties, and obligations.
If this does not work, the board’s president can strictly follow the meeting’s rules. This could mean following the agenda closely and cutting them off. Of course, the president needs to guard against stifling honest, spirited debate over the issues.
If the individual is violating their fiduciary duty, which involves putting the residents’ interests above other interests, even their own, the individual is creating a litigation risk. This is potentially even more serious than not living up to their responsibilities since there is a financial penalty.
Impeaching a board member is typically a long shot, generally requiring two-thirds of the residents to vote in favor of the action. You can have a coordinated effort to vote the member out when their term expires, although that means waiting it out.
A thoughtful approachA thoughtful approach
When voting for your condo or co-op board, go beyond the person’s qualifications. It is also essential to consider their personality. Think about whether the individual has been part of a large organization and what kind of reputation they have cultivated. There are websites that rate employers, which might provide additional insight.
Since board members are also residents, generally, the board is working for the betterment of the building. Unfortunately, there are times when people seek to take advantage of their position, and residents need to take steps quickly to stem the situation before getting out of hand.