Getting elected to the board of one's co-op or condo building is usually a very positive thing: it gives a person the chance to play a part in the preservation of their community, and also gives them the opportunity to leave it in better shape than when they started. But great power comes with great responsibility that must be utilized properly. Board members can suddenly find themselves in tough spots when figuring out how to balance their status and fiduciary duty with relationships that may predate their position of authority.
How should one tackle their authoritative roles with existing friends and neighbors? Whether it’s something as simple as repainting a kitchen to something as serious as falling behind on your fees, there’s a tactful way to approach all these situations so as to maintain stature, maintain friends, and not get in trouble along the way.
Know – and Make Known – Your Role
Board members, although somewhat of an authority figure in their buildings, need to find a healthy balance between being an administrator and being a friendly neighbor.
“The best advice I can give to an existing or new board member is to treat their position on the board as a separate job with fiduciary responsibilities,” says Alex Kalajian of Solstice Residential Group, LLC in Manhattan.
When among residents, Kalajian says board members should live and act as a fellow resident reflective of living in a communal environment. When in the boardroom, they should act as an executive whose responsibility is the enforcement of rules and fiscal policies. “One has to know their place and position and from time to time has to be reminded of which hat they are wearing,” he says.