A successful community association begins with the board. A competent and productive board is an integral part of that success. But who can be board members? What qualifications must board members have? Can a delinquent owner serve on the board? Even though community association boards are comprised of volunteers, those volunteers must still meet minimum criteria depending on the association’s governing documents and state law.
Both the Ohio Condominium Act and the Ohio Planned Community Act provide that the owner’s association shall be administered by a board of directors elected from among the unit owners. And, when the owner is not an individual, a principal, member of a limited liability company, partner, director, officer or employee of the titled owner may be elected to the board. Although the statutes provide this very minimum standard, the association’s governing documents may extend those qualifications.
The association’s governing documents may contain a “good standing” requirement. This usually means that to serve on the board, an owner must not be delinquent in the payment of any obligation to the association. It also means an owner cannot be involved in any litigation as an adverse party with the association, its board, or any of its member of the board in their capacity as board members. A good standing amendment also means an owner would not be able to serve on the board if they had a felony conviction within the last ten years. Without specific “good standing” language to the contrary, if an owner is delinquent in his or her assessments or is involved in litigation against the board, that unit owner can still be a member of the board of directors if elected by the membership. This can obviously lead to conflicts of interest and animosity among board members.
It is important for an association to establish board qualifications language before an issue arises. As boards prepare for annual meetings and elections, they should review their Bylaws to make sure potential board members meet the association’s qualifications. If the governing documents do not require a board member to be in good standing, then the board may want to strongly consider amending the Bylaws to include such a requirement. Requiring that a member be in good standing to serve on the board of directors will remove possible conflicts and allow for smoother operations.