Condominium and Homeowner Associations are governed by boards of directors, who generally have the power to make all decisions and take all actions on behalf of their associations. Much like a small government, the Board is elected by the members of the community. Beyond election of the board members, individual members of the community are often powerless to influence decisions made by the board in how to manage the affairs of the community.
How board members are elected, their number, and the length of their term of office, are contained within the governing documents for your community. Often there will also be provisions for how to recall a board member if the membership disagrees with decisions being made. The Declaration or CC&Rs of the association may have specific provisions, and the association bylaws may have additional provisions regarding how the board is formed and conducts its business.
The Washington Condominium Act requires that board members elected by the members exercise reasonable and ordinary care in the performance of their duties, and that they act in the best interest of their community. Of course there are frequently disagreements about what is in the best interest of the community. If you want to have influence or control over how your condominium budgets, enforces rules, or otherwise manages the affairs of your community, you need to be on the board to do it.
The governing documents and some state statutes describe specific conduct that must be taken by the boards. For example "New Act" condominium boards must have the association's annual budget ratified by the membership following a meeting called for that purpose [RCW 64.34.308(3)], and Homeowner Association boards must hold their meetings open to the entire membership [RCW 64.38.035(2)]. (That does not mean the membership gets to participate, but they do get to attend.) Frequently boards are unaware of their obligations and unknowingly violate law or provisions of their governing documents.
Legal review of the conduct of a board, or an individual member of a board, will frequently be very fact specific, and must be reviewed for compliance with the specific set of documents that control the community. Often an attorney experienced with these associations can be a valuable partner in making sure that everything is done properly.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions we can answer, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly.