Bringing in a New Board Inheriting a Mess

In managing the affairs of a building or a community, all board members are far from equal in their abilities and skills. Some bring experience in construction or a background in law, finance, or other professions that can be helpful to the board. Some board members bring little insight or professionalism to the group, and are more concerned with personal vendettas, cronyism or other compromising pursuits. It’s an unfortunate fact of democracy that rule by the people means that sometimes the people ruling don’t do such a great job.

While the majority of board members volunteer their time with the best interests of their community in mind, the degree of professionalism on a board can vary widely, some boards (or at least some members of boards) can and do make a mess of the job. Some boards can go so completely wrong that residents are compelled to vote several members—or even the entire board—out of office.

When new board members join their building or association’s administrative team during such a time of crisis, they have to hit the ground running and deal with the community’s problems immediately. Often, they must do so with little guidance and no training. But given the right information, new board members can take the reins of a troubled building or association in a smooth transition. With savvy advice, new boards can avoid the pitfalls that contributed to their predecessor’s failures.

Musical Chairs

While it is not very common for an entire board to be replaced due to resident dissatisfaction, it does occasionally happen. More commonly, one board member or a few board members will be replaced through an election. Cases of gross mismanagement—or even outright fraud—by the board can quickly disaffect residents and draw their extreme disapproval.

“When things are going well, it’s hard to get residents to come to the board meetings,” says Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan attorney with his own firm specializing in real estate matters. “When there are increases in charges though, everyone shows up.”

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