Many co-op and condo owners want to get involved in their community but they soon find out that being on the board is no picnic. Soon neighbors are pestering them asking for feuds to be settled, decisions that affect all resident’s lives have to be made, and then there are the books...financial matters that have to be addressed with little or no room for error. Knowing all of this, why do so many people decide to serve on a board—some for years at a time? Responsibilities, stress and pressure may build but believe it or not, there are benefits to being on a board.
Getting Blamed for Everything
Being a board member is tough. There are little thanks, if any. If anything isn't going the way someone thinks it should, it's easy to blame the people who are perceived to be in charge, even if that isn't really the case.
“When something goes wrong or if there is a problem residents won't really call the property manager, they'll complain to you because you're on the board and you’re accessible since you live there and are seen around the building,” explains Gregory Carlson, executive director of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC).
"It's an unappreciated job," says Manuel Cartagena, a board director at Gouverneur Gardens Housing Corporation in Manhattan. "No matter how much you try you always have people who will complain about something. There's shouting. People don't always agree."
In fact, many residents forget that the people who are on the board also live there and are subject to all of the same decisions that are made on behalf of the building. Elizabeth Purdie, a board member at The Tides Condo in Maspeth, Queens says, “We get blamed for everything, and very rarely given any credit for when we accomplish things. The residents blame us for raising their maintenance fees. When they complain to me, I tell them that I pay maintenance fees, too, and I'm not happy about raising my own maintenance fees. I'm retired. I don't want to pay more but sometimes we have no choice. The building needs to be taken care of.”