Running a strong board for an HOA, condo association or other community association can be tough work. There are so many logistics, safety concerns and opinions to consider. You have to manage the budget, keep the peace between neighbors, consider long-term projects, maintain common spaces, and on and on.
As if all that wasn’t difficult enough, what do you do when you’ve got a rogue board member who is making things impossible for your BOD? You didn’t sign up for the next political reality TV show (most likely titled: Game of Condominiums or HOA of Cards). Unfortunately, you can sometimes end up with a member who has made some poor choices or disrupts the balance so much that they need to go.
How do you remove a board member?
First things first, your rogue board member can’t just be opinionated or loud. They must display behavior that is cause for removal. How do you know what’s cause for removal? Your governing documents and bylaws should spell it out very clearly, so start there. If you are unsure, make certain that you contact a community law attorney before you make any moves. Otherwise you could be opening yourself to a lawsuit from the disgruntled board member.
What constitutes grounds for removal?
Just to reiterate, the only place you can find in writing the specific causes that could lead to forcing a board member out are in the CC&Rs of your community and Florida statutes. But typically behaviors that exhibit ulterior motives not in the interest of homeowners, numerous absences, belligerent conduct during meetings, conflicts of interest, unethical behavior and especially a breach of fiduciary duty can be grounds for removal. If you have verified that this BOD member’s behavior is qualified as grounds for removal, then you move on to the next phase, in which you have a number of choices.
Options for board member removal
One of the gentlest steps to take first is a good, but direct, talk. This could be a one-on-one intervention with the president, other board leadership or the entire board. Depending on the situation, and the person, you could give the member guidelines for behaviors that need to change or you could ask them to resign.
Removal of official duties
If the difficult board member is an officer, the BOD usually has the ability to remove them from office. Although this won’t remove them entirely from the board, it can minimize the damage done by the disruptive officer.
Wait out the term
One of the passive ways to remove a board member is to simply let their term expire. If you have the patience for this option, then all you will need to do is wait and see what happens during the next election. If this member attempt to get reelected you may have to go on the campaign and push for another community member to take their votes. You can read this blog on recruiting new board members to help you out in this type of situation.
This is typically a last resort because it can be difficult, lengthy and expensive. Your community bylaws and state HOA laws will detail this process and you MUST make sure you adhere strictly to these guidelines. If you are at this point, it is a very good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure that there will be no legal repercussions.
Whatever happens, and whatever you choose to do, you must remember that the interests of your community are always the top concern. This board member is also a community member and a neighbor. So handle the situation with professionalism, objectivity and respect.
You must also remember that only Florida law and your community bylaws can dictate what is cause for removal and how to remove a board member, so study these closely before you take any steps.