Though often responsible for millions of dollars in property and charged with the oversight of complex building functions, few co-op/condo board members are real estate professionals. Board members are resident volunteers who come from many walks of life and various professional backgrounds—most of which don’t include a lot of experience running a multifamily building.
The learning curve for a new board member can be steep, especially if that board member is not dedicated to acquainting himself with a building’s affairs. Until their on-the-job experience catches up with their duties, new board members often will rely heavily on more experienced fellow board members for direction. Their main guide is usually the property manager.
Property managers are busy with the duties of looking after the buildings they manage, but they recognize the importance of helping new board members become effective decision-makers for their communities. Depending upon the property manager or the management company, assisting new board members might mean having them familiarize themselves with certain documents related to the community, or recommending that they join organizations meant to facilitate property management.
In whatever way a property manager chooses to approach a new board member educational process, he or she must be met halfway by the new board member. The new member must take seriously their responsibility as part of the board, and he or she must do the work needed to make wise decisions. Barring such dedication, all of the pointers, tips and suggestions provided by a property manager won’t automatically transform a new board member into a good board member.
Questions & Answers
One of the first questions a new board member usually asks a property manager is what his or her responsibilities are. The property manager helps the board member to understand the scope of his or her role on the board by acquainting the new board member with the duties as defined in the community’s bylaws, says Irwin H. Cohen, president of A. Michael Tyler Realty Corporation in Manhattan. The property manager also provides each new board member with a list of shareholder/owners and their contact information, copies of the building’s bylaws, and a copy of the proprietary lease or the condominium declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R).