February 19, 2010

When Homeowners Associations Attack

"HOA Sues Former Board for $70 Million" is a headline that gets your attention. An Illinois homeowners association recently filed such a lawsuit against its former developer-controlled board (among others), claiming that past board members misused common funds and mismanaged the association's financial affairs. One portion of the lawsuit alleges that board members engaged in self-dealing by using their own or related companies to perform work for the association rather than competitively bidding the work. Another portion of the complaint contends that the association has insufficient reserve funds because dues were kept too low. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will end.

Board members must always remember that they are obligated to exercise reasonable care in making decisions and must never use their positions to obtain personal benefits. Conducting a thorough investigation, complying with the governing documents and applicable state law, and seeking professional advice when appropriate are three ways that board members can ensure that their decisions are beyond reproach. The guiding principle is always the good of the community.