“We had a crazy experience with our old condo HOA a number of years ago, dealing with a particular crazy resident. We lived there for a couple of years, with absolutely no issues. We didn’t even realize there was an HOA, except the lawn and grounds were maintained. I should note for board elections, you either had to go to the annual meeting and vote in person, or submit a proxy. For convenience and because no one noticed anything, they usually had us fill out a proxy when we came in to pick up new parking stickers for our car.
One day a woman came to our door. She had a list of grievances about how the current board was running things. It was a 2-page list with some pretty extreme ethical violations, potentially even criminal ones about how the current president embezzled $50,000 to redo her bathroom but refuses to give money for other people’s problems. The list was appalling. Since we didn’t have much of a feel for how things worked, it was kind of shocking all of this was going on right under our noses! We kind of overlooked several red flags, like how bad the grammar and spelling were on her 99 theses. We went to one of the meetings after that just to see what was happening. The leader looked flustered the whole meeting. She didn’t let anyone talk – except for her friends, it appeared – and was losing control of the crowd, which was pretty big. People were yelling, it was getting out of control. The crazy lady had a petition to sign and proxy ballots so we could sign our vote over to her. We figured, yeah, let’s get this incompetence and corruption off the board!
We signed it. Stupidly.
Fast-forward a few months and we hadn’t heard much about anything. One day, the lady came back to our door. She was the new leader, the old one had gotten voted out. But she needed help. My wife had told her she’d be willing to help before, so she was wondering if she would run for office. Apparently, several board members had resigned. My wife said, sure, but she’ll keep to her own ethics and not simply vote for anything this lady presented. Because of a loophole in the voting rules, my wife won by a landslide, along with the former leader. Since the voting process only picked the members, the members then decide amongst themselves who fills the leader and assistant leader roles.
The lady and the former leader ran for the leader position. The OG laid out his experience and how he planned to run things. The lady…went on a rant about how mistreated she was and how everyone was out to get her. The vote was split coming to the last vote, my wife. My wife voted for the OG leader.
The lady was furious. She was stammering to herself for about 20 minutes while my wife got elected VP. The lady confronted my wife in the parking lot calling her an ungrateful traitor, a turncoat, a demon from purgatory, and she hoped my children would burn along with her, and that Jesus would swallow our building in a sinkhole. Then the rest of the story came out slowly over the next few weeks.
The old HOA head wasn’t a strong leader, but a strong leader wasn’t really necessary for this board until the crazy lady came along. The old leader’s condo flooded due to a problem with the infrastructure, and she got an approved payout from the condo association in accordance with the rules and laws.
The crazy lady saw this and got greedy. She lived in a top-floor condo that had skylights. Yearly, the HOA power washes the buildings. The power washers damaged the skylight and caused flooding into her condo, damaging a small spot of carpet.
She also claimed the power washing broke her dryer (we have to get the dryer vents cleaned yearly and present receipts, she didn’t do that and had a bird’s nest in there). She requested reimbursement for about $60,000.
The old board said: NOPE.
Her request was so petty, she overthrew the board by a populist grassroots campaign to get it fulfilled. Her first order of business? Approve her request. She did it in a very shady way, in a private session, which was against board regulations. The management company withheld the payment from her as a result, stalling for months.
The first order of business my wife took was to find a bit of Robert’s Rules of order that let her redo that vote in public. They revised down the reimbursement to a few hundred dollars. According to the by-laws, damage to flooring is paid out based on the original value of the contractor-grade carpet installed in the units adjusted for inflation. The damage was small, so not much payout.
The lady slowly stopped coming to meetings, showing up just enough that she wouldn’t get removed from office by default, but didn’t run again.
During her time in office, she ran things into the ground.
Regular maintenance was not performed properly, normal procedures ground to a halt.
There were constant shouting matches at the meetings and the police had to be called on a regular basis because she instigated with community members. The lawyers from the management company had to be present at all times to make sure she didn’t mess things up, and she hired a videographer to film the meetings, all of which ended up costing the community about $10,000 in fees. Literal sinkholes were developing under some buildings, cracking the foundations. She ignored them for almost a year, costing the community hundreds of thousands of dollars.
After this happened, our kids were with a babysitter playing outside (they were 3, 1, and 1). Crazy Lady saw them and made a bee-line to the babysitter. Fortunately, one of our other neighbors was there and started screaming at the Crazy Lady. We have no idea what Crazy Lady’s intentions were, but we’re eternally grateful for the neighbor’s intervention.
The crazy lady also made the news once over dog poop. One of our neighbors had a fluffy white dog. She worked, and another neighbor who lived in the same building as the crazy lady walked her dog. One day, the dog walker was getting into her building and she accidentally spilled coffee in the common area, maintained by the community. She tried to clean it, but it left a barely noticeable stain. The crazy lady saw and was furious, insisting the lady replace the carpet. The lady, rightly, said no. So crazy lady and her sister started stalking the dog walker. The dog walker would notice them glaring from the windows, even hiding behind bushes.
One day, the dog owner got a summons for court. The crazy sisters pressed charges on the dog walker for not picking up the dog’s poop, and the dog owner was held responsible. Eventually, the dog was cleared because the ‘evidence’ the crazy sisters had was of a massive pile of dog poop that the little dog couldn’t have produced…and the dog owner offered to bring in evidence of that, but the judge refused to allow poop in the courtroom.
After the first month, everything settled down. People stopped coming to meetings again because everything was running like clockwork. Everything was clicking with the new board and not only was normal maintenance being performed, but improvements were also made and money was saved. It’s amazing how a fire draws a crowd like popcorn to a movie. The lesson here is to pay attention to politics, and you can enact change if you want.”