There’s nothing worse than dealing with someone who has let their power go to their head, and when you’re talking about a co-op or condo board member who starts to act above everyone in the building, huge problems can arise.
Just because someone is on a board does not give them the right to operate under a different set of rules than the rest of the building has to follow. There should be no preferential treatment for parking spots, flouting pet rules, or fast-tracking of their own alteration projects.
A board member has a fiduciary duty to manage the property and financial well-being of the cooperative or condo for the benefit of the shareholders or unit owners.
“Fiduciary duties means they are supposed to put the interests of a shareholder above their personal interests,” says David L. Berkey, a partner at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP in Manhattan. “What we often do with our boards is to have them sign a code of conduct which repeats the fiduciary duty rules but also advises them that they are supposed to set the standard of behavior in the building.”
A fiduciary relationship exists when one party puts its trust in another party and grants to that second party a degree of influence and power. There is the understanding in a fiduciary relationship that the second party has a high level of accountability, including moral accountability, to the first party, and that the second party—the fiduciary—will put the best interests of the first party above their own.