But I'm a Member! I'm Allowed to Stop That Contractor...Right?
Yes, you are a member of a homeowners association. With that membership comes rights and responsibilities, such as the obligation to comply with the association's governing documents and to pay assessments, and the right to select the people who will represent you on the Association's Board of Directors.
It's important to remember that as a member of an association, you are represented by the Board - you do not have the power as a member to act for the association. Much like you're represented in Congress by Mike Coffman or Diana DeGette, you are represented in your association by your Board members. It is the Board's obligation to take actions for the association. Sometimes, these actions are different than the action you would've taken in the same position.
Your difference of opinion with your Board does not, however, give you the right to interfere with the association's actions, taken through and approved by the Board.
When the Board takes action that you disagree with, you do not have the right to try to stop that action outside of proper legal channels. Yes, you are a member of the association, but you cannot interfere with contractors, terminate agreements, or represent yourself as a person with authority to do these sorts of things. If you do so, you could be personally liable for problems that ensue.
In addition, we often find former Board members continue to try to act on behalf of the association. This is not proper. If you are not a current Board member, you do not have any power to make agreements, terminate contracts, stop contractors, approve or disapprove architectural review requests, sign checks, or otherwise take action for the association. Even individual Board members won't usually have this sort of authority - the Board has to take action as a Board!
The proper course of action, when your Board takes or may take actions that you disagree with, is to first discuss the matter at a Board meeting. Your involvement and perspective are crucial to the Board's ability to make decisions that are in the association's best interests.
If the Board still takes action that you disagree with, step away from the situation and consider whether the action is reasonable, and whether a reasonable person could see that the action is in the Association's best interests as a whole. Often times, members feel that a Board action is aimed at them individually because of some personal animosity; in most situations, however, you simply have a volunteer Board trying to do what is best for the association as a whole.
Finally, the best way to get a good perspective on the obligations of Board membership, influence association decision-making, and gain some objectivity, is to run for the Board yourself. As always, keep in mind that you need to be fair and objective, and act in the Association's best interests. Once you're on the Board, you may realize that the Board's actions that seemed arbitrary and unfair when viewed through the lens of your individual membership, are appropriate and fair when examined from the perspective of the entire association.