If one board member becomes dominant and pushes the building’s agenda in the wrong direction, you could find your living status problematic, which may even impact your condo or co-op building’s safety. We have previously discussed strict co-op boards, but you can typically avoid this situation prior to moving in if you find the rules too restrictive.
You do not have to meekly accept a single board member’s decisions. There are ways to recognize the situation and deal with it for your own betterment and that of the entire building.
A dominant member
If you are not a board member, you can read the minutes or perhaps even sit on certain meetings, such as the annual meeting. This is enough to let you know if a member is not participating in a democratic manner, but seeks to dominate the meeting and push his/her own agenda.
Other warning signs include the individual trying to lobby other members, perhaps in one-on-one conversations outside the official meeting. If the board member flouts the rules, this should also raise a red flag. These are out of the ordinary and not within a board’s rules.
You may wonder if this is a bad thing, particularly if he/she is using this power to advance a common agenda. Problems arise, even with the best of intentions, since the board ceases to function properly and engage in a proper dialogue about the issues. In a worst-case scenario, this director is pushing his/her own agenda, even in conflict with the board’s fiduciary duty.
How to stop a rogue member
A nominating committee can help weed out undesirable board members. However, if he/she already sits 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 he/she is unfamiliar with how a co-op or condo board works, and needs to better understand 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 him/her off. Of course, the president needs to guard against stifling honest, spirited debate over the issues.
If the individual is violating his/her fiduciary duty, which involves putting the residents’ interests above other interests, even his/her own, the individual is creating a litigation risk. This is potentially even more serious than not living up to his/her responsibilities since there is financial penalty attached to it.
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 his/her term expires, although that means waiting it out.
A thoughtful approach
When you are voting for your condo or co-op board, go beyond the person’s qualifications. It is also important to consider his/her personality. Think about whether the individual has been part of a large organization, and what kind of reputation he/she has cultivated. There are websites that rate employers which might provide you some additional insight.
Since board members are also residents, generally, board are working for the betterment of the building. Unfortunately, there are times where people seek to take advantage of his/her position, and residents need to quickly take steps in order to stem the situation before it gets out of hand.