Hello...Hello?! Dealing with Unresponsive Boards

We all know the feeling—whether we encounter it trying to navigate the city bureaucracy, dealing with a far-flung credit card call center, or trying to resolve an issue with our cable box: the feeling that we’ve got a legitimate problem, and the people who should be listening simply aren’t.

The same thing happens all too frequently in co-op and condo buildings. A resident has cracks and leaks as a result of a building renovation project, or an ongoing issue with a neighbor, or a question about the building’s finances, and he or she calls the property manager or sends a note to the board, and…nothing. No acknowledgement that their request was even received, much less given any attention.

An unresponsive board usually tops shareholder/owners’ lists of building peeves—but with a few adjustments and improved communication, it need not be a problem in your building.

Is This Thing On?

Most board members would agree that they want the best for their building, and have the interests of their residents in mind when executing their various boardly duties. So what leads to boards being unresponsive?

“Sometimes politics comes into play more than anything else,” says David Khazzam, a managing agent with PRC Management in Manhattan. “[A few months before the annual meeting] you might have combative shareholders or tenants posing questions just for political reasons: ‘Why isn’t this being done?’ ‘Why isn’t that being done?’ So board members become cautious in how they answer questions.” Khazzam adds that board members are also human, and what comes off as high-handed or uncaring may actually have more to do with not wanting to upset a neighbor—not that it makes being given the runaround any less frustrating, of course.  

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