Friday, March 1, 2019

RFI and Advice Needed

For my sins, I live in a condominium.  This means dealing with the condo association, which should be pretty easy, you might think.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but you'd be wrong.  Keep reading if you want to be entertained for a few minutes, have a good laugh at someone else's expense, and maybe offer some advice.  You don't even have to be sober.

Before I go into the problem, I'd like to define the place and the players.

The Place: a 50 unit condo development on the Southeast corner of Columbus, Ohio, Doughnut Hole is bordered by Reynoldsburg on one side and Machine-Gun Alley on the other.  Features are a private drive which dead ends, no sidewalks, few streetlights, and Private Drive signs at the entrance.  Each unit has an attached garage, and the residents are generally quiet.  Units are not allowed to be rented, which is mainly enforced with an almost zero-tolerance enforcement.  These are all two bedroom units.  The owners are older and retired, mainly singles.  Crime is literally non-existent in Doughnut Hole, but the locals refer to the main road as Machine Gun Alley, and with good reason.

The Board of Directors, AKA The Players, are:

Madam President. 70+ years old, never married, no children, no man in her life, claims to be a good Christian, possibly an antique Lezbo with her best friend in the whole wide world: board member Tanker. Rules the roost with an iron hand-in-stainless-glove alongside Mister 'A' the property manager.

Barstool. 50-something, married, no children, no job.  Generally friendly.  His mind no longer functions correctly.  Staunch member of AA.  Having a conversation with Barstool is like trying to watch a hockey game while a precocious five year old retains control of the TV remote, surfing all 212 channels in the hope of finding something that will hold his attention for more than 10 seconds.  Barstool has had trouble with his neighbor, Tyrone, in the form of noise complaints.  While the complaints are valid, the board of directors refused to support him, preferring to support Tyrone.  I later learned that Madam President had become friends with Tyrone's parents.  Barstool is disliked by the other board members, who consider him a pain the ass.

Bible Betty. 60-something, never married, no children, hospital Chaplin, generally friendly, wants to retire, she claims she doesn't like being on the board.  Supports Madam President in all things.

Missed Sanity. 60-something, single, athletic.  She's intelligent and provides the rare voice of sanity. She's also somewhat standoffish and doesn't actively support anyone during meetings.

Pickles.  Late 70s, never married, no children.  Introverted, opinionated.  Has just been discharged from a local mental institution where she was incarcerated for being nuts.  No, I'm not exaggerating, and no, I haven't been drinking.

Tanker.  Early 90s, never married, no children.  Carries an oxygen tank.  Either can't hear what's going on at a board meeting or has taken up residence inside her own head, or maybe both.  Wants to paint the entire complex a different color.  Will vote on something when nudged by Madam President.  Again, I'm serious.  I've seen it happen.

Mister 'A', Property Manager.  An ex-cop, I suspect he was fired for being an asshole.  Is physically partially disabled - Alsheimer's?  Works closely with Madam President.   I've caught him telling blatant lies on several occasions at board meetings and have called him on it.

Vince Vodka. Insurance Agent.  Short, high mileage, over 50.  No wife in sight.  If this guy isn't a booze hound then I've never seen one before.  The one and only time I've met Vince is at the annual Doughnut Hole residents meeting.  He had half a load on and two high mileage blonde assistants.

Out of all the players, the only two who will speak freely and honestly to me are Pickles and Barstool.  Ironically, these two get along about as well as owls and crows do.  The rest of the board maintains a neutral to openly adversarial relationship with me and probably with any other residents who dare to ask about the board's business or want to see a financial statement now and then.

Bible Betty will speak with me, but lies to me.

Mister 'A', the property manager, makes no secret that he hates me and is openly obstructive and uncooperative.

Problem One.  I'm told that I'm not eligible to serve on the board of directors.  According to the rules and regulations, in order to qualify for a seat on the board of directors a person must A) Be a resident of Doughnut Hole, or B) Own a unit in Doughnut Hole and be a resident.  The spirit of the rule is that an investor living in, say, Toledo, is allowed to buy a unit, but is not allowed a seat on the board of directors unless he takes up residence in his unit.

My situation is that my condo is owned by a trust, and I'm not listed as a trustee of that trust.  The name of the trust is something on the order of Mad Jack's Mother's Trust fbo Mad Jack (fbo being For Benefit Of).  This protects my mother's favorite son from losing his little slice of heaven to the I.R.S.  Since I'm not a trustee, Madam President says the situation causes me to be ineligible for the board of directors, and since the resident trustee is my brother Big Mike, but since Big Mike doesn't live in Doughnut Hole, he's not eligible either.

I don't agree with Madam President's decision on this.  I think I'm eligible for a seat on the board, but I have no real idea how to fight this.

Problem Two.  The board of directors, Madam President, Mister 'A', and Vince Vodka are refusing to provide information to me, and to the rest of the residents.

On Tuesday, January 29th, I requested the following items and information:
  • Unit owners certificate off the master insurance policy from State Farm
  • The amount of the maximum loss assessment
  • A copy of the insurance policy from State Farm
Madam President and Mister 'A' prevaricate, refuse to answer phone calls and email, and then lie to me saying that the information is someplace else.  Vince Vodka refuses to take or return any calls or email.

By Ohio law, the association must insure the building, yet I have no proof of that insurance nor do I know where to go in the event of a claim.  I don't know how much my home is insured for, and that's beginning to bother me.

Since there isn't anything proprietary included in these questions, I tend to wonder what the association is trying to hide, or if they're just being assholes.  Which is possible, believe me.

Again, I have no idea how to proceed.  How does a resident get a condo association to cooperate when the only real players - Madam President and Mister 'A' - truly want to be obstructive?

Any and all help on this one will truly be appreciated.


Glen Filthie said...

That one stinks to high heaven Jack. That’s what lawyers are for. Doesn’t sound like being nice will work...

Old NFO said...

+1 on Glen. Lawyer time. Something more than fishy there...

glasslass said...

If you goggle - Ohio condominium act guide - I think you should be able to get most of your questions asked and answered. If it doesn't then the Trust might need to request the items you are trying to obtain. Might nudge them with the name of the Trust lawyer. You might also want to look into the requirements for being a board member with regards to competency. Anyone with a dementia or Alzheimer diagnose would seem to be subject to being removed. Possibly the Trust could designate you as their representative but that could mean a lawyer and court order. Hope this helps.

Mad Jack said...

Thanks GlassLass! That was a great suggestion, and I'm going to read the guide over the next few days.