Q&A: Management Company Negligent

Q Our management company just changed hands. The building records were shipped to the co-op, placed in a room across from the laundry and the rumor is that only the superintendent has the key. The other night when the new manager came, he left the door unlocked and the records were exposed to anyone who had access to that room. Since this new manager does not see the importance of housing our records at his location, I am afraid of identity theft and want my folder removed from that room. Do I have the right as a board member and shareholder to remove it?

—Concerned Shareholder

A “With the rampant growth of identity theft in this country, your concern about the security of your personal information is certainly justified,” says attorney Mary L. Kosmark, of the Manhattan-based law firm of Rosen & Livingston. The identical concern prompted the Federal Trade Commission to implement the FACTA Disposal Rule in June of 2005.

“The Disposal Rule requires organizations, including landlords, lenders and attorneys, which use consumers’ information, to dispose of the documents containing such information, once they have been used for their intended purpose. Credit reports, credit scores, employment history, banking information and tenancy history are all deemed to fall within the purview of the rule. Suggested methods of disposal are left to the discretion of the organization using the information and they include shredding or burning of documents, erasing electronic information, or hiring a document destruction contractor, depending on the sensitivity of the information and the cost and availability of disposal techniques. The regulation applies to co-op boards, as landlords, as well as to property managers who evaluate purchase and rental applications.

“Unless your management agreement states otherwise, your management company should be informed in no uncertain terms that it has the responsibility for maintaining the corporation’s records in a secure location and disposing of any documents containing confidential information that have served their purpose and are no longer needed.

“You are not only justified in removing your own records from a room that is accessible to anyone, but as a director of the corporation, you have a fiduciary responsibility to prevent exposing the corporation to liability for any failure to properly dispose of sensitive information concerning shareholders and even applicants who were not approved by the board.”

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