Q: I’ve been on our HOA board for a number of years. At a recent meeting, one of the homeowners started to yell at me. We have five members on the board but at the time of the meeting, we only had three positions filled. A motion was made and this homeowner made horrible remarks. He kept shouting and pounding on a table. He thought that the board was illegally voting on the motion because we only had three board members. He came across the table. He did not hurt me but I was scared. Our management representative and other board members tried to intervene and we tried to keep the meeting moving but he wouldn’t stop. What should we have done?
A: The moment that anyone, be it a homeowner or a board member, acts in a most disrespectful and possibly harmful manner, the meeting needs to be either recessed or adjourned. If recessed, the board and the community manager can try to settle down the member; if this fails, then the meeting needs to be adjourned.
A warning letter should have been sent to the member by the association’s legal counsel. The letter should have stated that if he continues to conduct themselves in such a manner he would no longer be able to attend board meetings for some period of time.
If necessary, the board could have security at the next couple of meetings to ensure that the meetings are being properly conducted.
Your state has laws that pertain to threats, harassment, and conduct that causes harm or serious emotional distress or reasonable apprehension that creates a hostile environment. A person who violates the provisions of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor. The law applies to anyone, not just board members or community managers but homeowners, tenants, etc. To enforce this law, a police report needs to be submitted.
Homeowners who feel threatened are not so anxious to file a police report because of perceived retribution from the member who is already harassing them. Bullies work on the assumption that others will not take any action. The final decision rests with the board.
Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker, and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. Questions may be sent to the Association Q&A, P.O. Box 80360, Las Vegas, NV 89180. My fax is 702-385-3759 and my email is email@example.com.