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Q&A: Dealing with a Difficult Manager

Q I live in a very small building and our condo board has turned over our building to a manager, who is running the condo as if unit owners work for her—not vice versa. The board likes not having to do anything. What recourse do unhappy owners have? Board members are attended to but no one else is.

—Frustrated in Forest Glen

A “It is critical to remember that a management company or professional manager can never assume control of an association,” says attorney James Erwin of the Chicago-based law firm of Erwin & Associates, LLC. “That role is strictly reserved to the Board of Directors. A manager hired by the Board of Directors should be responsive to the Board and the owners. If not, as in your case, the owners, by a petition signed by 20% of the ownership, can request that the board hold a meeting to discuss the conduct of the manager and to vote on the termination of her contract. Likewise, the directors owe the ownership a fiduciary duty to ensure that the association property and assets are being properly managed. And if those directors shirk their duties and fail to comply with their responsibilities to oversee the manager, then the unit owners should vote in new directors at the next election opportunity.”

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