When Condo Owner and Board Interests Diverge

June 2020

Condo owners are usually in agreement with most board decisions.  Where serious disagreement exists, condo directors are replaced by vote.  This does not mean that disputes are infrequent or minor.  The reality is that disputes are common and, once resolved, it is rare for everyone to be satisfied.

In one condo community conflict came about when the board wanted to destroy cat shelters.  The board’s intent was to provide additional parking and a clubhouse.  A group of owners wanted to maintain the shelters.  The board gave in although there was considerable conflict between residents on both sides of this issue.

A condo board’s responsibility is to represent its owners and uphold a fiduciary duty.  In a large community there will always be some that oppose a condo board’s efforts.

Conflict can arise when a minority choose to assert their interests in a vocal way making it appear as if they represent a majority.  The challenge for a condo board is to work through this noise to decide what is best for the community.

Perhaps the worst situation is when owners disagree with the board about a decision that is actually in their best interest.  One scenario is cell antennas on a roof opposed by some owners because of safety concerns despite research showing there is no danger.  In one older luxury building the board decided to eliminate elevator operators deeming it an unnecessary expense.  A group of owners disagreed and wanted to maintain this luxury.  In the end a special meeting and vote supported the board’s decision.

In a building in need of repairs or major upgrades there are always two views.  One view is to delay work some consider unnecessary or a waste of money.  This helps keep condo fees low or avoids a special assessment for a few years.  The other side considers this work necessary despite its cost so that everyone continues to benefit for the foreseeable future.

Electricity metering disagreements are common within older condo buildings.  Some owners prefer the convenience of not seeing an electricity bill over excessive use of electricity by many.  They oppose suite metering efforts and refuse to believe information showing that suite metering results in less electricity used and lower costs.

These issues can be decided either way depending on the strength of an argument, support, or board priorities.  Contentious battles can change the composition of a condo board and the final outcome of a dispute.

Most disputes are resolved after a period of time and the community moves on.

Condo directors have the task of hearing both sides of a dispute and avoiding the path of least resistance by supporting a minority perspective in opposition to what they believe to be the best interests of the community.