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The Entrenched Board

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 abusive.

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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