There’s no question that the Internet has revolutionized the way the world communicates. E-mail has become such an integral part of our lives and work, it’s hard to imagine how anybody got anything done without it.
Fast and convenient as it is, however, e-mail has a downside: studies have shown that people tend to be more informal and off-the-cuff in e-mail communications than in conventional letters or even on the phone. In the co-op/condo community, this may encourage a kinder, gentler brand of interactive communication, but it can also lead to liability issues for board members–particularly in cases involving discrimination suits.
Board members may not be aware that e-mail communications are admissible as evidence in court proceedings; they serve as permanent records every bit as important as meeting minutes and regular pen-and-ink correspondence.
The issue of e-mail can be so vexing that the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums (CNYC) recently held a seminar attended by board members, managers, unit owners and shareholders in which the ramifications of conducting business by e-mail was discussed.
Orsid Realty Corp. chief operating officer and managing agent, Thomas A Pasquazi II, says that among board members, e-mail should be used to resolve routine issues such as building repair, grounds upkeep and improvements to your building through interior decorating. For example, Pasquazi recommends the legitimacy of discussing a tear in a canopy or a lobby renovation and what should be done about it via e-mail. These things are safe subjects with which to deal with interactively via e-mail because they do not determine a person’s future within the co-op, he says.