Serving on an HOA or condo board is truly a service that someone provides for their community. It’s unpaid and often unappreciated. As such, HOA and condo board volunteers typically step up out of a true desire to make their community a better place. This usually means they’re typically wonderful, community-minded people. But every now and then you need to manage board members.

Sometimes a board member behaves in a way that is not conducive to handling the business at hand. This can make the already tedious work even more difficult, and it can make taxing, volunteer hours seem to drag on, intolerably burdened by incivility or unnecessarily difficult attitudes.

Good news! Boards are not without recourse in these situations. There are times when it is appropriate for boards to consider disciplining a board member.  And, there is a range of actions boards are allowed to take.

It’s a good cop, good cop situation.

When you manage board members and discipline is needed, it can feel like police work. There’s no need to play good cop, bad cop. Many states and most HOA and condo boards have governing documents that clearly state the rules and provide automatic sanctions for a board member’s inappropriate behavior.

Some of these rules provide that if a board member fails to attend a certain number of meetings, that member is automatically removed from the board. Some states, such as Florida, have laws that say that if a board member becomes delinquent on maintenance fees, that member is automatically removed from the board. In some situations, it may be appropriate for the board to have a recall vote to remove a member or to bar that member from running in the next election.

If the errant board member is an officer, the board can vote to remove that person from that position or to remove them from a certain committee. Boards can also discipline a member by reprimanding that member during the meeting or having it noted in the meeting minutes that the board does not agree with what that member is doing.

Most of the time, strong words will be enough.

One area where board members frequently misbehave is that of privacy. Items discussed in board meetings are expected to be kept private, particularly when the matters might embarrass a resident in the community. When board members share this information with their significant other, or with neighbors or friends, it violates that privacy. In these cases, it may be enough for one member of the board to pull the gossipy member aside and let them know that board information is for board ears only. When private guidance is not sufficient, it may be necessary to reprimand the member in front of the whole board. If a board member is corrected in this way during a meeting, it may be a good idea to include that action in the meeting minutes, so that there’s a record.

When all else fails, ask that person to resign.

If a board has tried without success to correct a member or get a member to change his or her behavior, it may be necessary to ask the erring member to resign. There are a number of situations in which this may be appropriate, including when a member is just difficult and unpleasant for other members to deal with. Board members are volunteers. It’s inconsiderate to the other members to force them to deal, meeting after meeting, with an uncooperative, difficult member. The best solution, in these cases, may be to simply ask the person to resign.

However, though a board can ask a member to step down, it doesn’t have any authority to demand a resignation. The difficult member can refuse. If this happens, the board still has a few options. If the problem is that the member is disruptive, monopolizes time, or behaves offensively, the board may be able to mitigate the situation by imposing rules on the meeting, such as only allowing each member a set amount of time to talk or by voting to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. Creating and adopting a board member code of conduct can also be helpful.

Serving on a condo or HOA board can be challenging enough without having to navigate interpersonal conflict with other board members. Fortunately, boards that find themselves dealing with a difficult member have some options to make the situation better.

What to Do Next

For board members who are simply uninvolved and unresponsive, a board may be able to terminate that member’s board status. For obstructionist members, starting with the least aggressive action is usually advisable, but it may be necessary to escalate if the unruly member doesn’t change his or her ways. No matter the route a board decides to take, it’s a good idea to carefully document every action taken and to always stay cordial and civil.

If you still have questions about how to best manage board members, give us a call at 844-9-ARDENT.  You can also fill out our online form to see how we can best help you.