What is the proper organization of a condo board of trustees in Massachusetts

Asked over 1 year ago - Warren, MA

We had some non paying members take over our units because there was more non paying members than paying members. we have 12 units. They threw the president of the association out who hired an attorney to collect their fees and then fired the attorney. now they have voted in a board of trustees and a board of directors, then voted in the president, who is on the board of trustees and the Secretary and treasurer aren't on any boards, but they owe the most money in fees. I think the only legal way is to have aboard of trustees with the officers appointed by the board of trustees and are on the board of trustees. I am afraid that they may be doing it illegally and might be setting us up to be sued.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Jefferson W. Boone

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    Answered . A condominium is organized as a trust. The declaration of trust is filed a the registry. There are also bylaws. These documents specify how and when the trustees are elected/appointed and how they select officers, as well as their powers and duties. You should consult them to determine if the elections were properly conducted. There may also be a provision which prevents unit owners who are not in good standing (owe fees) from voting. You should have received copies of these documents when you bought the condo.

    Among the trustee's duties are a fiduciary duty of good faith towards the association and its members. If they have hijacked the board with the purpose of avoiding paying their condo fees, this is definitely not good faith.

    Since the good guys appear not to have a majority, it does not appear that you have sufficient votes to remove the bad guys from office. However, you and your fellow good guys should be able to sue them in an action similar to a stockholders' derivative lawsuit. You should consult an expert attorney in condominium law, which I am not. One place to start your search is by inquiring of the lawyer who got fired, who was also probably stiffed for his fees. Another is to call the Mass. Bar Assn. lawyer referral service. A third is to search this web site "Condominium Lawyers in MA".

    The current group of trustees must be utterly desperate as well as dumb. Failure to pay condo fees is a breach of the conditions of their mortgages, and unpaid fees and an insolvent association will seriously effect the resale potential of everybody's unit.

    The foregoing answer does not establish an attorney client relationship, is not confidential, and should not be... more
  2. Rory J. Gill

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    Answered . I echo the previous answer. The possible consequences of deliberate mismanagement are really obvious. So, as an owner, you have two possible courses of action - one political and one legal.

    The political solution, replacing the trustees, would be the best solution in the long-term. It would allow responsible trustees to manage the budget, rules, maintenance, and fee collections. How exactly this is done varies by condo. Look at your condominium's Declaration of Trust for more information about your building's procedures.

    The legal solution could offer you some interim relief. While I want go into too many details, the derivative lawsuit option mentioned above may work. To do this, you first demand that the board of trustees take action - collect overdue fees. If they refuse to do so (or fail to do anything), you can sue on behalf of the condominium trust to collect. This can be done if you can show that the decision not to collect is clearly outside the reasonable discretion and judgment of the trustees.

    Good luck with the condo reform efforts. Take a look at some of my condo management and condo law blog posts (link below).

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