Condo board members beware

New Ohio bill would impose criminal penalties for not following protocol
Tom Jackson
Feb 16, 2014
A bill that would impose criminal penalties on condo board members who don’t properly post meetings or file paperwork is drawing fire from critics who say it is an example of government overreach.

State Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, says she introduced House Bill 371 after hearing stories about bad condo boards from her constituents. Grossman said oversight and transparency is needed to deal with such situations.

Among other provisions, the House Bill 371 would require condo board members to register with the Division of Real Estate, open their meetings to all unit owners, post all meeting times in advance in common areas and websites and require certain records to be kept.

Violating provisions of the law would make condo board members guilty of a third degree misdemeanor.

Jerry Fraley, president of the Hunters Glen Condo Association in Norwalk, and Darcy Mehling Good, an attorney with Kaman and Cusimano who works with condo associations, said Tuesday they are particularly concerned about the criminal penalties.

Good noted that existing laws ban condo board members from stealing money and said she’s never heard of the boards of any other nonprofits being subject to criminal penalties for paperwork violations such as failing to post a meeting five days in advance.

“This would be charting new territory,” she said. “It’s big government at its worst”

Fraley said it’s already difficult to recruit good people who will volunteer their time to serve on a condo board.

“Who are you going to get to open yourself to criminal prosecution?” he said. “Not me. I’m gone”

Good said Erie County has about 50 condo and homeowners associations and estimates about 75 percent are condo groups. Ottawa County has close to 100 associations, with condo accounting for about 90 percent, she estimated.

Other provisions of the bill show evidence of hasty drafting, Good said.

“The board members I’m hearing from are telling me they want to start over” she said.

Grossman’s bill, introduced in December, has been assigned to the House Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee.

Grossman said she introduced the bill after being approached by constituents having problems with their condo boards or condo managers.

In some situations, they’ve taken fees and bought vehicles, she said.

There are times when regular maintenance hasn’t been carried out, Grossman said.

“I’ve seen pictures of privacy fences leaning, painting that hasn’t been carried out” she said.

Grossman said she is listening to suggestions and doubts that her bill will even emerge from committee by May.

“I am in no hurry on this,” she said. She said she wants “a final product that is fair and reasonable for all”

Comments

Darkhorse

The bill is not a bad idea. A lot of condo owners are absent and only rent out their condos. Condos owners should be kept appraised of what is going on and they should get a financial accountability of where the money is being spent. There is just too much corruption going on in the country anymore and the investment that has been made just may be in jeopardy if you are not being updated as to what all is going on with the association.

LookingDown

How is this big government at it's worst? Follow the law and let everyone attend?! Don't do shaddy meetings that no one knows about!

Dinghy Gal

THIS BILL IS A BAD IDEA. These are civil not criminal matters unless the board members are stealing from the association. Then there are already laws in place for these crimes. You voted them in, vote them out. It also sound like realtors want a bite by forcing board members to register or be licenced by the STATE.

Elwood

This bill is dead. It was dead on arrival and would never been passed as it was written.

No Wake

I would love to see this bill passed, the board for the building pictured is terrible at communicating and has zero accountability. There have been a total of 3 board meetings in the past year, and in each case, notices had been posted no earlier than 9am for meetings occurring at 5 and 6pm. Giving less than 8 hours' notice, especially posting after most residents have left for work, is a good way to keep people from attending. How can you vote on issues or members when you can't even attend? And the condo fees just go up and up every single year to pay for lawyers and legal fees..

local man

political worthless measure. If your board are a bunch of screw-ups, run for the board, its all the non participants that moan and whine about everything. There is a coverage on the condo association policy that covers board members actions, go after that coverage if something goes wrong in their decisionmanking. Make your board list their next meeting time in their minutes and demand a copy after each meeting.

grandmasgirl

All I can say is that your post takes common sense to implement. And most of the ones who whine want to do only that........whine. They don't want to give of their time to try and make things better. Good post!

Elwood

It seems almost all condominium associations have the same problem of filling the condo board seats. It is very hard to ask someone to volunteer their time and effort, only to open themselves up to almost constant ridicule. Sometimes the complaints seem to be endless, and it is usually the same people that do all the complaining. The way I look at it, if you don't like the way the Board is doing things, get yourself elected and implement the changes you think are required.
My grandma always said put up or shut up, then again you can always move.

GARY1945

I agree some people just whine, condo boards have a responsibility and rules. If someone in the association has a problem with the board then go through the proper channel to correct it.

ohioengineer

'“I’ve seen pictures of privacy fences leaning, painting that hasn’t been carried out” she (Grossman) said.' Only a politician who has never had to work within a real budget could make the above stupid statement. I understand that when you work for the government, money is endless - just raise taxes or run a deficit. For those of us in the real world, money is scarce and has to be carefully budgeted and spent. Most condo owners scream like stuck pigs at even the suggestion of raising their fees, yet somehow all the maintenance is supposed to be magically performed. Grossman's comment is a great example of how politicians think - or rather how they don't think.