"Everybody Out!" Handling Closed-Door Meetings

One of the most important recurring themes Cooperator readers are likely to encounter in these pages is that of communication; between board and manager, between building administrators and residents, and between neighbors. When communication breaks down, or administrators discard transparency, building operations and community morale tend to suffer.

That being said, there are times when information can and should be more tightly controlled, and when non-board shareholders actually don't have the legal right to certain information. Knowing when to include and when to exclude residents from the decision-making process and what kinds of information they have the right to access is an important part of any board's responsibility, and can help avoid unnecessary (and expensive) legal issues.

Do Tell!

One of the most common complaints reported by shareholders and unit owners in co-op and condo buildings is that their boards and/or managers keep them in the dark—not alerting them to upcoming work in the building, failing to respond to questions and complaints, and not holding regular meetings.

Board members, by contrast, may feel that as unpaid volunteers, they aren't necessarily obligated to respond personally to every email they get, or issue a press release every time the lobby gets painted. Additionally, shareholders may not be aware that there are sensitive matters discussed in board meetings that must be kept confidential.

According to Michael Donuk, director of management for Argo Real Estate, LLC, in Manhattan, "Generally, building boards will meet once a month. Sometimes [meeting requirements] are spelled out in the condo or co-op documents; usually the bylaws. Some boards meet less often because they're smaller and don't have as much business going on. But the general practice is about once a month."

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