How to Get your HOA/Condo Board Members to Buck Up
This week, we’re going to address a very touchy subject: Do you have problems getting your board member to do the job?
Do you have board members who’ll rather abstain from votes? Is it a good idea? When can you consider it a cop-out if a board member refuses to vote? How do you count abstention when counting votes?
We’re not going to mince words here: our experts are of the opinion that board members that abstain from voting are only being cowardly.
According to a shareholder who’s also a civil litigation chair at Epsten Grinnell & Howell, San Diego, Rian W. Jones, “I’ve seen it when I believe the board member is afraid. It’s usually political. They’re afraid a faction of the homeowners is going to be against them if they vote.”
Some states have implemented laws to govern this. According to Brad van Rooyen, who’s the founder and a senior member at Tampa, a Fla-based HomeRiver Group and Home Encounter’s president, abstentions have been codified in Florida.
He further stated that, the law allows board members to abstain if there’s conflict of interest and it must be announced. “Abstentions aren’t valid to avoid offending a person or group,” he says.
According to Jones, in California an abstention becomes necessary when the board members involved are personally invested in the outcome. “Then they should abstain or they should also abstain even if there’s a perceived conflict of interest.”
Elizabeth White is another lawyer that has witnessed board members use abstention to chicken out of voting. She’s a counsel at Sands Anderson PC Williamsburg, Va., and the person in charge of her firm’s team of national community association industry.
In her words “There are only two instances I can think of off the top of my head that allow board members to abstain. Their fiduciary duty requires that they participate in the decision-making process.