Building boards and their managing agents function best when they work together as a team. Ideally, the two parties collaborate to implement policy, carry out administrative duties, and make decisions about the efficient operation of the building or association. Management contracts usually spell out the duties of the manager, but confusion sometimes arises among board members regarding the extent of their manager’s duties versus the limits of the board’s duties.
Sometimes, such confusion is the result of misconceptions about the manager’s role, or of preconceived notions on the part of one or more board members about what the manager’s role should be. At best, a board at odds with its manager is ineffective; at worst, it risks doing serious harm to its community. So it is essential that the board and manager work in harmony—but smooth relations can only happen when each party understands their role and obligations.
Whose Job Is It?
In the case of boards staffed with more hands-on board members, the role of that board and the role of the property manager might seem to overlap occasionally. While that redundancy might initially seem helpful, that’s actually the opposite of the way the relationship should work, experts say.
The board should set policy for the community after receiving consultation from the property manager and or other professional consultants. The board makes decisions regarding capital expenditures, which prospective tenants to allow into the building, and other decisions.
The property manager or managing agent must always remember who the employer is, says Paul Gottsegen, executive vice president and director of Manhattan-based Halstead Management Company, LLC. “The board is the client, and the managing agent is the agent,” he says. “There’s a contractual relationship that defines that relationship.”