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What can a board do when one owner blocks a repair project?

Titleholders who continually demand meetings and documents are well within their rights, but the board is within its rights to take repair action if a majority votes in favor.

May 30, 2010|By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian

Question: I'm a frustrated condo owner in a small association. Our board seems to be doing a responsible job of trying to maintain our complex by performing due diligence on repairs and getting majority approval of the funding. Yet because one person continually demands meetings and documents from the board, repairs have not moved forward, and our building continues to deteriorate. What can someone like me, who is part of the majority, legally do to demand that maintenance be performed? Please don't tell me to quit my job and devote myself full time to this project or hire an attorney.

Answer: The law makes boards responsible for the management of common areas and to repair, replace and maintain that common property. But there is more to a board's job than "performing due diligence on repairs" and "doing a responsible job of trying to maintain" a complex.

In keeping with the care and caution expected of the board, it must ensure accountability for association funds and that repairs are neither frivolous nor benefit a single titleholder to the exclusion of the others.

Part of the board's fiduciary obligation is to make properly reasoned and transparent decisions and act on them, address owner concerns and follow the law. Blaming one individual for the board's inability to take action is an argument with no legal basis.

Owners who continually demand meetings and documents from the board are well within their rights under the law. Boards, on the other hand, are also within their rights to take an action if a majority of the board votes in favor. When this involves repairing, replacing or maintaining the project, the action is not likely to be overturned by a court. But a court might order someone who is truly disruptive to cease and desist.

A board can ask to "meet and confer" with the owner and can also schedule free mediation with the owner through the Los Angeles city attorney's dispute resolution program. Call (213) 485-8324.

The board should move forward with the repairs rather than risk incurring liability for the association in its failure to act. If the board is unable to function, a court could order a receiver to take over operation of the project, a much costlier alternative than any board action.

Send questions to P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or e-mail noexit@mindspring.com.

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