SAMPLE POLICY FOR ADDRESSING LEASE VIOLATIONS
Editor's Note: The following policy is one way of addressing lease violations. Like all policies, it should vary with the specifics of the environment in which it is applied. Start with this, and make changes according to your own development.
Lease Violation Forms
Each resident shareholder is responsible for reporting to management any behavior of others (residents and/or their guests) that violates provisions of the proprietary lease. To do so, completeA Lease Violation Form and see that management receives the original for their records. Upon receipt of a completed Lease Violation Form, management will send a note to the accused member informing them of the accusation and suggesting that they please refrain from the behavior. The note will also describe the process should two lease violations be received, a description of which follows.
If management receives two Lease Violation Forms concerning the same resident, management will present the issue to the board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting. It is recommended that the board discuss issues pertaining to lease violations in executive session.
In instances of controversial and/or confidential issues, the board of directors can opt to vote to go into executive session. If agreed, the decision to go into executive session is recorded and the board determines who, aside from the directors present, it feels needs to be present (conflicted board members should recuse themselves) during the sessionB it is recommended that only those non-board members who have information or insight pertinent to the discussion at hand should be present. During executive sessions no minutes are taken. Only the motion to come out of the session and any decision(s) that was made during the session are to be recorded.
Whenever discussing a defaulting member(s) the name of the member(s) is never revealed. Although the management agent knows the identity of the offending member(s) there is absolutely no reason for the board to know their name(s) unless the member(s) themselves comes forward to reveal who they are. In practice, even if the entire board knows exactly who is being talked about, it is a good idea to try to not refer to the person(s) by name. The board wants to do all that it can to avoid any of perception of bias. Along these lines, management will refer to the defaulting resident(s) as ResidentAX@ or Member AX@.
When the lease violation(s) is presented, the board will need to decide what formal action will be taken to address the issue(s). Many times, a person=s poor behavior - as evidenced by a completed ALease Violation Form@ - cannot be used as grounds for a successful eviction. Seeking an eviction against a member for say, not locking the door to a common room three times in a row, will not stand up in a court of law. No judge in their right mind will terminate a household=s housing for failing to lock a door. Non-payment of rent, yes. Harassing a neighbor, maybe. Not locking a door, forget about it. In cases of minor violations, the board could decide instead to send a formal letter that explains to the member the importance of locking the door. Failing this, the board could think about the possibility of addressing the situation by putting a new kind of lock on the door B one that locks by itself. Be flexible and creative in addressing minor lease violations.
For behavior that represents serious violations of the leaseB flagrant non-payment of rent or other co-op charges, violent or threatening behavior, damages, etc. B the board should decide to proceed with the eviction process. In doing this, board members should keep in mind that the defaulting member(s) will have had and will continue to have plenty of opportunity to dispute the charges levied against them. More than ample due process exists in Vermont thanks to the many waiting periods inherent in the law and the many delay tactics employable by attorneys on behalf of their clients.
Further more, co-ops are businesses that are organized to provide affordable housing to qualified households. Having a history of not paying rent or harassing a neighbor typically disqualifies one from accessing this type housing in the first placeB the same behavior perpetrated by a member should be just as unacceptable. There are plenty of perspective applicants capable of responsible behavior who are in dire need of affordable housing. It is unfair to these responsible people to allow a household to continue to live in a co-op who has, by way of its behavior, essentially disqualified itself from membership. It is this understanding of the Abig picture@ that you must keep in mind as you make these tough decisions. In deciding to proceed with the eviction process, the board is putting into action a tried and true procedure for determining blame and levying penalties. Utilize this system to protect your members and the corporation from the damages that result from not swiftly and decisively dealing with these issues.
By religiously following the process described above, several things will occur. By dealing fairly and consistently with these issues your membership will gain a new respect for your authority. You will limit the ability of disgruntled members to successfully sue the corporation over wrongful termination. You will make your job as a board member somewhat easier by giving yourself a process which you can use to light the way during difficult times. Good luck!
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1999 ARCH. All rights reserved.