Members who are unhappy with board decisions (or indecision) or management can do any or all of the following:
1. Remain Silent. Be part of the silent majority... say nothing and do nothing and hope the problem resolves itself. Things run in cycles so sometimes this strategy works. You just have to be patient.
2. Use Open Forum. Address the board in open forum. Be respectful and clear in describing your position. The board may not be aware of the problem and bringing it to their attention should get results. If you are hostile, rambling and make unreasonable demands or threats, the board will label you as a nut-job and reject your request.
3. Write Letters. If the board does not respond to your open forum request, follow-up with letters. Do this because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and boards don't like paper trails that create potential liability. Keep your letters respectful and business-like. Do not engage in personal attacks or exaggeration.
4. IDR. If the open forum and follow-up letters don't resolve the problem, try internal dispute resolution. Even if IDR does not work, it keeps the issue in front of the board and it exhausts your friendly attempts to address the issue.
5. ADR. If IDR is unsuccessful, request alternative dispute resolution. This is more costly since it normally involves attorneys.
6. Run for the Board. If the above actions don't resolve the issue or you don't want to involve attorneys, run for the board (or support responsible people who will). First, examine your motives. If the reason you want on the board is to get something for yourself at the expense of the community, that would be a conflict of interest which could lead to a breach of your fiduciary duties.
7. Recall the Board. You can launch a recall of the board. This is a drastic measure and very disruptive to the community. It may permanently damage relationships with neighbors and create life-long enemies. Hence, your issue should be sufficiently serious that it cannot wait until the next annual meeting.
8. Litigate. If none of the above works or you're in a hurry to lose money and make enemies, you can sue your association. You should be prepared that lawsuits are lengthy, expensive, emotionally draining and unpredictable. So carefully weigh the cost of litigation against the hoped-for benefit... and then weigh it again. If you're suing to punish the board because of a perceived sleight or to prove a point, you're one of the crazies.
9. Move. If you live in a dysfunctional association, sell your property and get out before they cause you financial and emotional ruin. Look for a home in a good association. Most associations are well-run and one will be a good fit for you. Or find a single-family home that's not in an association.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.