Board members find themselves acting as referees so often, some may feel like they're wearing black-and-white striped shirts. Maybe they're mired in the middle of a conflict between homeowners because one group of gardening enthusiasts is at odds with a group of parents over whether to use a limited space to grow flowers or install play equipment. Another day might find them settling a dispute between two unit owners who are about to duel over noise or food odors.
Settling these conflicts often involves tough choices on the part of building administrators, who must weigh the positions of different groups against what's best for the building community at large. It's a balancing act with political, personal, and practical considerations.
For Lori Burger, senior vice president of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and of marketing and business development for Eugene Burger Management Corporation in Rohnert Park, California, the typical pet peeves among homeowners usually boil down to what she calls the Three P's: “That's people, pets and parking,” she says.
Attorney Steven Glassberg of the Manhattan-based law firm of Glassberg & Associates, LLC, says the most common issue he hears about is noise. He remembers one fairly typical case where a young child's bedroom was on the other side of the wall from a single individual who enjoyed music. “When the parents complained, first to the neighbor and then to the board about the music waking their child, the neighbor didn’t take to it kindly,” he says. “It caused a problem between the neighbors and eventually the board had to get involved.”
In Burger’s experience, most of the conflicts between residents and boards come down to money. “Anytime a board increases expenses or there’s a budget issue, it usually stirs up conflict,” she says.