Every now and then, you come across a homeowners association board that has one board member who tries to take too much control, or overexert their authority. What recourse do you have when an HOA director goes rogue?
There is the option to remove an HOA member who is going over the top with their actions, but it is not always a simple process. Here’s what you should know about dealing with rogue HOA board directors in Arizona.
Be familiar with the governing documents
You should check all documents and bylaws of your homeowners association to see what the minimum standards are for board members and officers. This will include information about attendance at meetings, communication with other board members and what authority they do and do not have. A failure to meet standards of the board could lead to removal. If such qualifications are not included, associations should consider amending the bylaws to include a code of conduct for members of the board.
Attempt to limit authority
You can aim to prevent rogue board members from becoming an issue by putting limitations on their authority. You can do this by clearly defining scopes of authority in your organization’s bylaws, or by
specifically removing troublesome board members from certain committees or positions, at least until they’ve corrected their behavior. This includes removal from their specific office within the board.
Seek to correct the behavior
Sometimes it might just take some conversations and education to correct the behavior of a troublesome board member. This is always a good method to try first—you shouldn’t seek to remove a board member until you’ve exhausted all of your other options, and while having a conversation may be difficult or awkward, it’s the mature and right thing to do. Sometimes board members overstep their boundaries accidentally or make mistakes, especially if they don’t have a background in real estate or haven’t served on other boards before. Try to correct the issue through one-on-one conversations and avoid calling them out in front of the rest of the board.
If the problematic board member can realistically see that they will sooner or later be removed from office, you can instead request their resignation to help them avoid a more public fallout. Again, this is a step you’d only want to take after you’ve already attempted to correct their behavior and after you’ve given them an opportunity to defend themselves. If the board member refuses to resign, they may be subject to removal by members, which is governed by Arizona statute.
Wait out their term
If you have any reason to believe that requesting a resignation or holding a vote for removal could unnecessarily create some bad blood, you could just wait out their term and then encourage someone else to run for the position instead. This is a good course of action to take, especially if the issues you’re having with the board member are bad enough to be a nuisance but not so bad that they actually compromise or damage the board’s operations or relationships.
Seek relief through the court
Arizona law does not allow a board to simply exclude a rogue board member from meetings and decisions of the board. If a rogue board member’s conduct is significantly detrimental to the board and/or the association, the board may consider approving a lawsuit to be filed against that board member. The Association would seek injunctive relief from the Court ordering that rogue director to comply with the duties they have to the association as a board member. Of course, lawsuits can be expensive, and boards should make such a decision after carefully evaluating the facts on a case-by-case basis and after consulting with an attorney.
For more tips about how you can deal with troublesome HOA board members, we encourage you to contact the experts at the Goodman Law Group today and we’ll be happy to provide more advice about dealing with rogue HOA board directors in Arizona.