Governing a Condo can be an exceedingly trying task. One of the big surprises you’ll face as a new Board member is sorting through what’s important and what is not. Some things that seem really stupid turn out to be important. Other things that are obviously important won’t be told to you. Here are three Condo Association governance tips for new Board members to help you hit the ground running.
Beware the Power of the Fire Marshall
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever had to work with local law enforcement. However, if you’ve never worked with a Fire Marshall, you’re in for a surprise. Their power over your building is tremendous. They can put you on a fire watch. The Fire Marshall has the authority to tow cars idling in a fire lane on your property. They can fine you. Fire safety is no joke, and your building should be prioritizing it. Firefighters are incredibly dedicated public servants who take fire safety very seriously – they are looking out for the community’s best interest. But should you run afoul of your Fire Marshall for whatever reason, watch out – they can put a lot of pain on your community. If you’re a new Board member, this is one of the most important of the Condo Association governance tips to be aware of.
The Legal Implications of Signage
Ever walk by a park or a public area and notice a ton of signs? “No Trespassing.” “Park Closes at Sunset.” “Being at the Park After Sunset is Trespassing.” “Watch out for Slippery Ice in the Park.” “Watch out for Slippery Ice in the Park While Trespassing” – all in a row? One of the Condo Association governance oddities is that signage is taken very seriously from a legal perspective. If someone does something dumb, but you didn’t have a sign telling them not to do it, in some cases your legal recourse is limited. This results in excessive signage so that you can protect the Association from human stupidity. If your Association has a pool, basketball court, or other similar shared spaces, you probably have a ton of signs that overly clarify what behavior is and is not allowed. Our litigious society is why.
The Importance of Rules
Most Board members don’t want to create a ton of rules (except maybe The Prosecutor). However, over time, Boards find themselves dealing with all sorts of strange behaviors. This could range from the disgusting – like people not cleaning up after their pets – to the absurd, like people shooting a HOA president. While some of this behavior can be solved by the police, the reality is Condos often have to govern themselves. However, without rules, the Condo cannot issue fines. Without fines, the Condo cannot curb negative behavior. While you may end up with some crazy rules, the reality is that the Association would be worse off without them. As a new Board member, you might consider reviewing your Condo’s rules to understand what you can and cannot punish.
There are numerous aspects of Condo living that you don’t think about until you’re actually in the business of governing a Condo. When you’re a new Condo Board member, following these Condo Association governance tips will help you avoid making big mistakes. Make sure you are leading your Condo Association in a responsible way to ensure that everyone in your community has a better Condo life.