As a shareholder or condo owner, you’ve got a gripe. Whether it’s about Mrs. Smith’s poodle barking all day, the neighbor’s teenaged son who blasts his heavy metal music full-volume when his parents aren’t home, or a long-coveted parking space that hasn’t materialized after years of waiting, you want someone to listen—and of course, do something about your complaint.
While a seemingly unresponsive (or stone-deaf) manager or board can be profoundly frustrating, it's worthwhile to consider the approach you're taking to state your case or present your problem. Are you using the proper channels? Are you stating the issue clearly? Do you understand the rules and limitations of your own community and board? The answers to these questions have a lot to do with how soon and how satisfactorily your problem gets resolved.
Chain of Command
To have your complaint heard effectively, the first step is to follow the rules and bylaws that your association has set in place.
According to Steven Greenbaum, director of property management/asset management at Mark Greenberg Real Estate Co. LLC, with offices in New York City and Lake Success, building-related complaints can be made first to the doorman or super, and the complaint will be addressed and followed up on by the managing agent. “If you don’t receive a response within 48 hours, go up the food chain,” he says. “If it’s not resolved at the staff level send a pleasant, factual email to the managing agent asking for a timely response.”
In most buildings, how you complain really depends on what your complaint is all about; there are different approaches for complaints related to maintenance and complaints related to neighbors. “If it’s a noise or carpet issue, try speaking directly to the shareholder to see if you can work it out amicably,” suggests Jay Cohen, director of operations at Manhattan-based A. Michael Tyler Realty Corp., which manages more than 30 properties. If that doesn’t work, “then we ask that you put it in writing to us; we don’t want to take a verbal request.”