Fixing What the Previous Condo / HOA Board Did
Community Associations are like a living entity, which exist in a state of constant evolution. Associations must be able to adapt to both the physical changes of the property that take place over time, as well as the ever changing make up of the membership of the community, which may have an even greater impact on the need for modifications. Just because a prior board of directors mandated a policy, procedure or prior action does not mean that the current board is saddled with their decisions indefinitely.
Change is necessary and should reflect the current needs of the community. It is very important for a board to know the history of the association and understand how past policies came into effect in order to implement changes of older policies, which were established by prior boards.
One example of "fixing what the previous board did" is an actual policy change I witnessed in a community association located on the east coast of South Florida . This particular association had been in existence for many years and recently experienced many younger owners purchasing units from the older retirees, which had changed the overall demographics of the building. For years the prior boards of directors had a policy in existence that the association's maintenance staff was authorized to enter individual units, with office approval, to make minor private handyman repairs such as change light bulbs, or replace individual air conditioning filters. These work orders were performed to help the older residents, who it seemed had trouble finding qualified or trustworthy help. It was determined by the current board of directors that this policy was outdated as well as contrary to the association's documents in that the board did not have the authority to make these type of repairs inside individual owners apartments. A "fix" was indeed necessary and would reflect the current needs of the community. The board agreed to establish a new policy restricting these practices and approved this action at a duly held meeting.
Another "fix" of a previous board's policy took place in an upscale hi-rise condominium association that had an in-house restaurant operation. This association allowed its owners to use the restaurant with a policy that owners could have their food bills charged to their unit accounts. The prior policy further outlined that owners were to bring their accounts current on a monthly basis. This rule had been in existence for quite a number of years and had been an accepted practice by which the association operated under. In recent years it was observed that a growing number of unit owners were failing to keep their food service accounts current, which had impacted the association's restaurant operation. The current board of directors ultimately determined that an overall change in policy was necessary and the concept of allowing owners to charge their food service bills to their association accounts was eventually discontinued.
As community associations age and the needs of serving the membership change, decisions made by previous boards must be revisited. Boards of directors should not feel they are married to past decisions as change is a necessary progression for serving the current requirements of the community. Fix what is needed, as the membership must look to the current board for its leadership and direction.
Andrew Meyrowitz, LCAM®, Association Times, December 2006