The managers and board members in the communities we work with have been faced with some rather interesting situations during the past few months. Here’s a sampling–see if you can guess what they have in common:
- A ROC manager receives a frantic call from one of the residents in her community about another resident who wandering up and down one of the streets in the community waving a machete.
- A board member wants to stop cars that she feels are speeding in her community and tell the drivers that they are violating the rules and regulations in her community.
- Another community is about to begin a substantial renovation of its clubhouse and one of its board members would like to be appointed as the "project supervisor" to oversee the general contractor and all of the work.
- Several board members in another community are convinced that a resident requesting to have a pet reside with her as a "reasonable accommodation" for her disability is not disabled and have stated that they will vote against granting the resident’s request even if she provides the board with a statement from her treating physician verifying the disability and the need for the accommodation.
In each of these situations, ROC managers or Board members are being asked to or are volunteering to step well outside the scope of their "job descriptions". Neither managers nor board members have the training nor should they attempt to disarm someone waving a machete, as that situation clearly calls for the local law enforcement authorities. Likewise, even if a board member can be certain that someone is exceeding the speed limit in the community, the appropriate action is to positively identify the vehicle and report the incident to the manager or, in certain circumstances, the police or sheriff’s department.
While it’s common for the community manager and one or more residents that have been appointed by the board to serve in an advisory capacity or as a "go between" with the general contractor and other professionals involved in a major community project, even if a board member has the qualifications (including any required licenses) to supervise the project, why would the association want to put itself in the position of being a defendant in a lawsuit filed as a result of damage or injury that occurs as a result of defective workmanship? I have no doubt that the association would be sued on the grounds that one of its board members was supervising the project but I do have doubts that the association’s insurance would protect the association in this situation–precisely because the association allowed its board member to act outside of a board member’s "job description". Also, what if the association is unhappy with the board member’s performance as the supervisor–how comfortable will be other board members and the other residents in the community be if the board has to terminate their fellow board member’s employment?
Finally, numerous court decisions involving Fair Housing Laws make it very clear that allowing board members to "play doctor" and substitute their judgment for that of trained health care professionals is a prescription for disaster. While the association’s board is entitled to request documentation to establish the basis for a resident’s request for a "reasonable accommodation," once that documentation has been presented, a failure to make that "reasonable accommodation" may have serious and adverse financial implications for the community.
ROC managers and board members have more than enough work within their "job descriptions" to keep them busy. The community that allows or encourages its manager or board members to step outside of those "job descriptions" does so at its own peril.