While billions have been spent on next week’s election, I bet virtually no thought has been spent on the most local of elections – your condo association’s. That’s too bad. The decisions made by that board of trustees would impact you more directly than anything Congress does.
The Problem: Apathy
People don’t care, don’t show up, and don’t want to run for trustee. Worse, only the craziest people in the building do. Herein lies a pretty obvious recipe for disaster.
The condo board of trustees sets the budget, collects the condo fees, and pays the bills. Moreover, they decide when to replace the roof, who shovels the sidewalk, and whether dogs are allowed. The importance of this should be enough to get you to care, but it often isn’t. So, how can a condo association generate interest and ensure that competent trustees are elected?
1. Publish an agenda. Before the annual election meeting, I recommend sending an agenda that highlights what’s exactly at stake. If there’s a controversy of the rules, repairs, or budget, encourage people to come to the meeting to discuss it.
2. Make proxy voting easy. Remind people of their right to appoint somebody else to vote for them. If an owner can’t make the meeting herself, she shouldn’t throw away her vote. Certainly, there is somebody in the building to whom she can lend her support.
3. Serve wine or cupcakes. I’m not kidding. This helps.
If you don’t get enough participation in the election, you may not even have a quorum to conduct business. That means that nobody gets elected. So, what could be done then?
1. Postpone the meeting. You run the risk, though, of another poorly attended meeting.
2. Allow the existing trustees to fill the board vacancies. Most condo bylaws allow this. This only works out well if the existing trustees are competent.
3. Go to Court. If there’s a complete breakdown in the election process, you may end up in court. That’s because courts have the power to appoint trustees for you if you prove incapable of doing it yourself.
The Bottom Line
Vote. Run for trustee. The condo association will be better managed with people like you taking an active role.