Avoiding Sticky Situations Switching Managers

Most co-op and condo boards that hire managing agents, rather than manage themselves with in-house staff, are reasonably satisfied with them. After all, the managers are presumably trained and experienced professionals.

But now and then, a building or development wants to change its management company, or else its individual manager. What happens then? It could be a sticky situation.

There are several possible reasons why a building might want to change managers. One might be that new people come onto the board who have had links to particular managers in the past. Another might be poor service and cutting corners on the part of the current manager. Yet another could be the suspicion of wrongdoing—financial records missing, for example.

“If you have a to-do list and nothing changes, month after month after month, and the list keeps on growing, there’s a problem,” says Greg Carlson, executive director of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums (FNYHC) and president of Carlson Realty in Forest Hills. Other reasons given by Carlson include not getting callbacks and being ineffective with the residents. “The manager may not have the necessary public relations skills,” he adds.

The desire to change can also reflect the particular step in the co-op or condo’s evolution. For example, Basil Capetanakis, a veteran Bay Ridge real estate man and former property manager, has served as a sponsor for many co-op conversions. “When we change management in the beginning,” he says, “the sponsor does it. By law, after five years, we give up management, and the owners hire their own management company.”

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