One of the biggest complaints heard by attorneys, managers, neighbors, —and yes, even publications like The Cooperator—from co-op and condo dwellers is that board members do not respond promptly to shareholder/owner complaints, or worse, they don’t even respond at all. Polite inquiries and even urgent problems are met with silence, and repeated requests for action seem to fall on deaf ears.
We’ve talked so much about communication on these pages, but it’s definitely worth repeating – good communication – between all parties, managers, agents, shareholders and board members—is the key to running a successful, solvent co-op or condo building. When the lines of communication break down at any point, problems and animosity are the almost unavoidable result.
But why do some boards have such a hard time responding to shareholders’ concerns while other boards reply to residents in a smooth, timely fashion and rectify any problems or answer any concerns? Could it be that some boards are so busy that they simply don’t have enough time to handle shareholder complaints, or they don’t have the answers, or perhaps they are even apathetic to a shareholder’s situation?
“Depending upon the board, it could be any one of those reasons,” says David Baron, senior vice president and principal of Metro Management Development Inc. in Queens. Baron has also been president of the 310-unit Bay Terrace co-op board for the past 12 years and a board member for the past 15.
“Some boards work exclusively through their agents, so correspondence is handled meeting-to-meeting [monthly],” says Baron. “Our clientele for the most part are active and involved board members. Very often, replying to correspondence is delayed on a board’s part due to the time constraints placed upon board members by other building business, as well as their own personal and professional lives. Sometimes, shareholders ask questions, the subject matter of which is still under board consideration and thus no answer or solution to the problem is yet available.”