I live in a single-family community with less than 100 homes and have the following questions:
Q: Can homeowners’ association board members be removed from office for lack of service?
A: I’m not sure what you mean by “lack of service,” but the board of directors has a duty to maintain the common areas and enforce the community’s restrictive covenants. Also, your HOA’s bylaws should contain a list of the specific duties and powers of directors. If the directors are not fulfilling their legal duties, the best approach is to gather support among your neighbors and call a meeting of members to vote on removing the offending directors from office.
Be sure to read your bylaws and follow the proper procedures for calling a meeting of the members and for removing a director. Petitions circulated among the homeowners really have no legal significance, and cannot be used to remove directors.
The N.C. Planned Community Act addresses the removal of directors: “Notwithstanding any provision of the declaration or bylaws to the contrary, the lot owners, by a majority vote of all persons present and entitled to vote at any meeting of the lot owners at which a quorum is present, may remove any member of the executive board with or without cause, other than a member appointed by the declarant.”
If you don’t have enough support for calling a special meeting of the members, then you may have to wait until the next annual meeting and then campaign for the candidates you want.
Q: Our board will only answer questions and/or e-mails if the questions are positive. All questions have to be sent through our management company, which sends the questions to the board. The board then decides if it wants to acknowledge the questions or not. Is it legal to not acknowledge the property owner at all?
A: It’s not “illegal” for a board not to respond to inquiries from homeowners, but it is certainly bad business practice. A policy of silence and secrecy by the board members is a sure way to generate suspicion, mistrust, and contempt among owners.
I encourage my HOA boards to hold open meetings whenever possible. The Planned Community Act contains the following law: “At regular intervals, the executive board shall provide lot owners an opportunity to attend a portion of an executive board meeting and to speak to the executive board about their issues or concerns. The executive board may place reasonable restrictions on the number of persons who speak on each side of an issue and may place reasonable time restrictions on persons who speak.”
If your questions are not being answered, make a written request to be heard at the next meeting.
Q: Our board is a clique of people. When a member resigns, the remaining members choose another favored person. What is the proper way to fill vacancies?
A: There is a provision in the N.C. Non-Profit Corporations Act which specifies that the remaining board members have the authority to appoint someone to fill a vacancy when a board member resigns. If your bylaws spell out a different procedure for filling vacancies, then that is the procedure that applies. If your bylaws are silent on the issue, then the procedure in the statute applies.
Q: Is the HOA obligated to respond to an inquiry about how many HOA meetings a board member has missed?
A: No, but the minutes of all board meetings are available for inspection by any member of the HOA. The board meeting minutes should reflect who was in attendance.
Charlotte attorney Michael Hunter represents community and condominium associations for the firm of Horack Talley.
“Ask The Experts” Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the Charlotte Observer
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