The Chain of Communication Establishing Connections – and Boundaries – Between Board and Residents

The board of a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association literally exists to serve, and to represent residents’ best interests in the day-to-day business of the association. The relationship between the owner/shareholder and the board member is symbiotic; one doesn’t exist without the other. And as such, the former party can often feel entitled to board members’ time and attention. 

Sometimes this is perfectly appropriate. But occasionally, residents may overstep, aggressively encroaching on board members’ personal space and crossing boundaries. Even if a resident has a legitimate grievance or issue to raise with their board, it’s important to remember that board members are almost always volunteers with demanding outside lives; they’re not full-time receptacles for association inquiries, and should not be confronted off the clock in the elevator, the parking lot or the lobby. 

In order to maintain respect and courtesy between board and residents, it’s important for communities to establish an accessible chain of communication of which everyone is aware. This allows residents to express their complaints and queries clearly and without confrontation; it also enables the board to address issues as they arise that does not involve anybody getting yelled at by the pool.

Utilize the Middleman

While the board members are, by definition, the on-site face of association management, most communities pay top dollar for a qualified outside management company to which they outsource most day-to-day tasks that don’t require a formal vote. So while it may be easier to knock on the door of Jane in 2B to dispute a maintenance charge, oftentimes a better result can be obtained by reaching out to management.

“The board spends a lot of its time doing unpaid work, and when not acting in official board capacity, members do not like to be bothered in the hallway, or have folks come to their units and interrupt their personal spaces,” advises Bart Steele, Assistant Vice President of Premier Property Solutions in Boston. “We recommend that all communication comes through management first, which allows us to filter issues to the board as necessary. This is especially helpful due to the massive volume of email traffic – especially at larger buildings – and also allows us to document everything that transpires.”


Related Articles

Board Transparency

Consistent Communication Is Key

Hot Topics for Co-Ops and Condos - Legal Updates on New Disclosure Laws

Seminar - The Cooperator Expo New York

How Transparent Should Boards Be

Understanding What Information to Provide Owners and Shareholders

HOA Financial Statements

Uncovering the Hidden Risks & Opportunities

Handling Conflicts

When Should the Board Intervene?

Resolving Conflicts

...The Manager's Role



  • Communication really is paramount. When I held the co-op presidency at our 12-unit co-op, all communication was conducted via e-mail. I love e-mail. My e-mail identifies myself as the sender, good for transparency. E-mail leaves evidence of what was communicated. For example, if someone comes to you and say “I have too many shares, my maintenance is too high, recalculate my shares!”, or “I want you to force her to renegotiate the seller financing agreement”, or “you better fire him or I will say that you had sex with me!”, you would want these requests to be committed to writing, as oppose to cell phone chatter or other forms of verbal utterances. The new board however does e-mail correspondence in a very suspicious fashion. A Gmail e-mail account was created that only identifies the name of the co-op, and the sender of the e-mails, the co-op president, never identifies himself personal, only signs off as “board of directors.” Luckily, there are only 3 board of directors and one doesn’t have to do too much guess work to know who the sender is. Another funny thing is that the e-mail sender includes his own personal e-mail address as a recipient of his own e-mail, to make everyone else think there exists two different people. Why is the president hiding? Is the president trying to protect himself in case something illegal is communicated, by claiming in a defense “I did not write that e-mail. Must be one of the other two board of directors” or say “Who’s that? My name is so and so. I never heard of that person”? Sounds about right. The president is an idiot to believe that there is no proof of the e-mail ownership. Little does he know that the rest of the shareholders have that evidence and are just playing along with his stupid game.