New Year, New Deal Guide your building through 2002

We all know how it goes. All year long, you let things slide a little here and there–an extra handful of chips here, putting off changing your oil there–until by the time the New Year rolls around, you’re battling ten extra pounds and your engine sounds like it’s full of dried peas. Swear all the solemn oaths you want… it’s hard to make New Year’s resolutions stick.

It pays to parlay New Year enthusiasm into action, however. To that end, The Cooperator has compiled a short list of ways in which your board can tie up loose legal ends, improve relations with shareholder/owners, and generally run a tighter ship in 2002. Some are suggestions for one-time fixes, while others should become routine business. All are intended to help you and your board chart a smooth course through the year ahead.

The Paper Trail

This is the perfect time to look over your building’s governing documents to make sure they’re up-to-date and don’t contain any irrelevant or outdated information. Easy as it is to take an "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" attitude toward paperwork that may have been on file for decades, times–and buildings–change, and there may be a lot of outmoded language in your documents that needs to be either revised or discarded.

It’s also important for a board to turn a critical eye on the lease documents being issued to shareholders. According to Beth Markowitz of Manhattan’s Merlot Management, many of the proprietary leases circulating now were drafted in the mid-80s and contain clauses and stipulations that just don’t apply anymore. "It generally takes 51 percent or two-thirds of the outstanding shares to vote to change a lease, and some buildings have great turnout, while with others it’s a struggle. A board should decide if working on the lease is a priority on their agenda," says Markowitz. Managing agents and legal counsel can help bring lease documents into the 21st Century.

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