The smaller the power, the
smaller are those who seek to possess it.
One of the most disturbing
situations to emerge from the growth of homeowner’s associations is the
problem of abusive boards. Not all boards are abusive, but many are. An abusive
board usually becomes entrenched and wields excessive power.
The entrenched board is made up
of individuals who get elected to the board over and over again. As time passes,
they become unresponsive to the needs of the community. They enjoy the powers
and perks that come with exercising control over their neighbors.
If owners are to fight back
against an abusive, entrenched board they must understand why a board becomes
An apathetic community will
always provide a home for an abusive, entrenched board that rarely turns over
its membership. Over time, the board increases its authority to a dictatorial
level, answering to no one. Owners pay little attention to the boards
activities. In fact, most owners are just glad someone else is taking care of
association business. There is little communication between the owners and even
less political activity. In an apathetic community, the entrenched board serves
its own interests. At election time, the entrenched board is able to control the
election process because so few owners get involved.
To reverse this trend, a
community needs a number of owners to go to board meetings and keep abreast of
the board's activities. Though many owners will remain apathetic, some will get
involved. This change would go a long way towards creating an association that
is reasonably stable, with slow, steady membership turnover. A board like this
should remain responsive to the interests of the owners.
The first step towards a cure
for the abusive, entrenched board is the creation of a healthy, politically
active community. Owners must be willing to join with one another to serve the
interests of the entire community. They must understand their community’s
problems, develop solutions, and educate other owners. In time, these active
owners will replace the abusive board members. Of course, they must continue to
encourage a fair and open political process.
The second step in the solution
to this problem will have to come from State lawmakers; there is a desperate
need for legal reform in the area of community association law. Legislators must
create laws that will give owners the legal means to fight back against abusive
boards. They must make it easier for owners to remove board members and to
recover legal fees and court costs when they prevail in court.
But if reform is ever to occur, the owners must demand it. Reform will come when homeowners refuse to allow their neighborhoods to be turned into gulags. If owners refuse to defend their communities, they know what to expect.
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