Homeowners association directors can’t delegate duties to property managers
Lost Angles Times
By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian
06 November 2011
The president of our homeowner association sits next to the property
manager at board meetings, and the manager runs the meeting. She
answers questions that owners ask the board and interprets the
CC&Rs and bylaws.
The property manager is the only one sitting at the board meeting that
is aware of incidents occurring at our development. There are many
incidents that happen in our complex that the board never hears about
because most owners have a dialogue with the manager instead of the
board directors. Because most owners don't attend board meetings, the
only issues and incidents that get reported directly to the board are
the ones the manager wants them to know about.
When I brought this situation to the board's attention, one director
refused to listen to me, saying he trusts the manager to take care of
everything and if he didn't trust her, she wouldn't be working here.
As an owner I find this attitude inappropriate. I am concerned about the association's operations, but what can I do?
There is a difference between trust and duty. Although a director may
trust the property manager, he or she may not delegate his management
duty to that individual or company. Ignorance of any events leading to
liability, like ignorance of the law, will not excuse directors'
As for the president's trust, it too is misplaced. When the manager
attempts to interpret the covenants, conditions and restrictions
(CC&Rs) and bylaws of the association, that person is making a
legal determination that he or she is not permitted by law to make,
unless the manager is an attorney. Any incorrect explanation could
prove costly to the association and could result in misdemeanor charges
against the manager.
Instructing titleholders to send notification of their problems to the
manager is incorrect. Management works at the behest of the board and
all notices should be sent to the board of directors, who have a
statutory duty to act in the best interests of the association and its
owners. The board decides what will be copied to the property manager.
Even if the board never reads the letters from homeowners, it is
responsible for knowledge of the contents and any liability for
Directors must recognize that employing property managers does not
shield them from anything, and certainly not from liability. Directors
were not elected to pass the buck to vendors.