Association board must comply with procedures, bylaws


February 03, 2002

Dear Mr. Azrael,

I recently purchased property that is within an incorporated association.

Although articles of incorporation and bylaws exist, they are not followed by the controlling members. They state that the only reason for the documents was to form an association such that dues could be collected for maintenance of certain property.

Although directors are elected, they do not have any meetings and do nothing to manage the association. A budget is never prepared, as required by the bylaws, and most other provisions are ignored.

Does a homeowner have any recourse to require adherence to the legal documents?

David G. Smith

Church Hill

Dear Mr. Smith,

The articles of incorporation and bylaws are the bible of the homeowners association. The directors are legally required to follow the procedures specified in the bylaws, including holding meetings, preparing budgets and complying with the other duties and responsibilities as provided in the documents.

If directors willfully fail to comply with their legal duties, they can be sued and held personally liable for any damages caused to the association. They also can be placed under a court order to comply with the procedural requirements, or in appropriate cases, the directors can be removed from office and a receiver may be appointed by a court to manage the affairs of the association on a temporary basis.

As a member of the association, you have legal standing to complain. A strong letter from an attorney, pointing out their legal responsibilities, should suffice.

Such a letter is probably most effective if it is sent by certified mail to each director, stating with specificity the provisions of the articles and bylaws that the board of directors has ignored. The letter should also state that unless the procedures are implemented and followed by a specific date, that you will bring legal action on your behalf and on behalf of the association, seeking appropriate relief, including damages and attorneys' fees.

I would expect that when the directors receive this letter, they would consult with their legal counsel, who would confirm that, indeed, the articles and bylaws mean what they say and cannot be ignored.

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