While the exception rather than the rule, boards can run afoul leading an association into troubled waters. In some cases, certain rules are enforced over others or community funds are simply mishandled. And in other instances, trusted advice from the property’s managing agent or legal counsel is ignored completely.
For managing agents, usually there are telltale signs that a board is heading off the tracks. However, at first, the signs might be subtle enough to require the observational expertise of an experienced professional.
“The telltale signs are frequent, long drawn-out meetings with little or no resolution to major discussions,” says Dennis DePaola, an executive vice president with Orsid Realty, a Manhattan-based property management firm. “Another sign is extensive argumentative e-mail correspondence, also without resolutions.”
In some cases, the arguments are not virtual but held in public during meetings, explains Attorney Thomas Kearns, a partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Olshan Frome & Wolosky, LLP. “Some typical signs include repeated fighting at board meetings. Sometimes, board members send out unauthorized correspondence to owners,” he says. “In other cases, it’s the failure to make key decisions which imperil relationships, delay needed repairs, or cause owners or others to sue the corporation or condominium.”
When to Make the Call
When a manager sees wrongdoing or receives verbal or written complaints from board or non-board residents, the way in which he or she responds requires a delicate balance. After all, the management company was hired by the board, and theoretically could be fired by the board, as well.