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Alabama Law for You

  • Writer's pictureGregory Stanley

HOA COA Board Bullies

Updated: Apr 21

Whether you are the president, secretary, treasurer, or vice president, you have responsibilities that are vital to the association; but that does not give you authority outside the official role as designated in your bylaws and adopted policies.  If you don’t have a clear job description or some other written guidance of your role and responsibilities, your first responsibility is to draft up those responsibilities and present it to the board for adoption. Clear designation of each board member’s roles and limitations will ensure efficiency of the board and help avoid personal conflict.


The president of the board is not the sheriff

     

The most valuable advice (and most difficult for some to accept) that I give my association clients is individual board members do not get personally involved with collections or enforcing association rules.  The Board as an entity handles infractions and collections.  Well-written policies on infractions and collections that are formally adopted and recorded in the minutes prevent board members from personal conflict with owners.   No one wants to have hard feelings with their neighbors, so the best policy is to let the Board as an entity handle all collections and infraction issues by sending letters and offering to hold a board infractions hearing if the owner disagrees.  Enforcement escalation should only be done via USPS, and then if necessary by filing a lien, but never by going to the property and confronting the owner.


The board treasurer is not the tax collector

     

Sometimes the board treasurer takes on the role of Dog the Bounty Hunter and wants to collect late dues personally—but that is NOT the treasurers role.  The treasurer needs to be in a board meeting if they are speaking directly to a delinquent owner.  The collections policy should specify that notices are sent by USPS, late fees are assessed, and if necessary a lien is placed on the property, but never by any board member going to the property and confronting the owner.


Individuals are individually liable for acts they take outside of board meetings.  

  

Board members sometimes think that they are insured for actions regarding owners who are delinquent or are violating an association rule.  They are not.  If a member of the board personally confronts an owner about a perceived infraction, such as building an unapproved fence, and it becomes physical, the association insurance does NOT cover the board member.  If a board member turns off the water to a unit that has not paid their water bill, that board member is sure to be sued as an individual and they will lose.  Think of it like this:  You are only acting as a member of the board when you are in the same room with the other board members, and that will keep you out of trouble.


Approved policies for collections and infractions that avoid personal confrontation are more effective and also make our communities nicer places to own


Always use a reputable Alabama Lawyer when you are dealing with real property, whether it has an association or not.



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