The firm’s latest Miami Herald “Real Estate Counselor” column authored by Michael L. Hyman appears in today’s Neighbors section and is titled “What Are Some Common Traits of Excellent Community Association Boards of Directors.” The article discusses how Michael realized from the start of his work with associations more than 50 years ago that the decisions of these boards, which are of momentous significance for the administrative and financial well-being of their communities, are sometimes influenced by the petty whims and infighting of some of their directors. His article reads:
. . . Boards of directors often fall into one of three categories:
The Autocrat: These associations are ruled by a president who has typically served in the position for many years. Everything the president wants, they get; everything they are against has no shot. The other board members are happy to follow along and not rock the boat.
The Fence Sitters: These boards’ votes are almost always split decisions with a swing-vote in the middle, and they typically deliberate for a very long time before making any decisions. Sometimes for issues involving pressing matters, they may even kick the can down the road rather than making a difficult decision.
The Varsity Team: These boards of directors are typically comprised of experienced board members who, for the most part, see eye to eye on many important issues and decisions. They listen to experts, discuss and weigh their options together with all the interested unit owners at the board meetings, and always make decisions that are in the best interests of their communities.
In some cases, the personal interests of one or more directors actually conflicts with the long-term interests of the community they serve. For example, a director who has plans to sell his or her residence in the not-too-distant future is going to be disinclined to approve special assessments for the funding of reserves for repairs and renovations that will not be necessary for many years.
All board members should never lose sight of the fact that they have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the community by maintaining and enhancing it, and maximizing the property values for all the owners. If board members takes on a confrontational and obstructive attitude in their deliberations as a director, the other board members and the association’s attorney should remind them of their duties and encourage them to share their perspectives and rationale behind their positions. The attorney can also discuss the potential legal ramifications and liabilities that could come into play if board members are negligent in their duties, and they could also answer any questions regarding conflicts of interest and recusals from certain votes.
The best association boards of directors do an excellent job of communicating with each other. If a fellow board member is suspected of being negligent in their duties as a director, their colleagues on the board should speak with them about their goals for the community as well as the tactics and strategies they envision to meet those goals.
Ultimately, it is incumbent upon all association board members to foster an atmosphere of open communication with their fellow directors as well as their property manager. Any director’s concerns should be discussed and resolved before they snowball into a much more serious issue.
Board members should also be very mindful of their fellow directors who may be feeling overwhelmed, left out or bullied. Serving as a director is an important responsibility, and the best boards of directors are comprised of individuals who are cognizant of each other’s state of mind and help their colleagues feel self-assured and proud of the contribution they are making to their community. . .
Michael concludes by reiterating that living in condominium and HOA communities has many advantages, but they require dedicated board members who are willing to volunteer to help their communities deliver everything that they and the other unit owners expect and deserve from the place they call home. He notes that by creating a healthy, respectful and cooperative working relationship with all the board members as well as the professionals they retain for their expertise and guidance, community association directors can make a substantial positive long-term impact that will maximize the property values for themselves as well as their fellow owners.
Our firm salutes Michael for sharing his insights into the characteristics of successful community association boards of directors with the readers of the Miami Herald. Click here to read the complete article in the newspaper’s website.