Rebecca Trinkler, Counsel in the firm's Real Estate practice, comments on the complex and costly disputes that can arise between homeowners' association boards and residents when the financial implications of renovations arise, including the added layer of legal costs, in The New York Times' article "When Condo Boards and Residents Clash, Legal Bills Mount."
“Most of the battles that happen in these condos are power grabs,” said Rebecca S. Trinkler, a lawyer at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. “There are disputes when board members are seen as taking advantage of their position.”
For example, she said she knew of a condo board president who used association funds to buy a pool table and club chairs so he and his pals could hang out. And a board member who gave contracts for the condo renovation to family members.
Ms. Trinkler said buyers should research the board members and understand what types of assessments were levied in the past.
“You can ask people if they’re happy with the board and how it’s run, really inquire about the condition of the building and how it’s managed,” she said. “Even then, you still might not know what you’re going to get, but at least you have some sense.”
Looking before you leap is important because organizing a coup or winning a costly litigation battle against an association is rare. More often, a lot of money is spent, feelings and friendships are damaged and the board has its way.
“There are fines for the board for not following the Florida statutes, but they tend to be small and they don’t really have teeth,” Ms. Trinkler said. And on the other side, “unit owners don’t always want to foot the cost of a lawsuit.”