Working with Professionals Your building's in-house service providers

Most co-op and condo dwellers are well aware of the responsibilities held and services provided by their building’s top-tier contractors–otherwise known as the managing agent, the accountant and the attorney. Working as a team, this group of people facilitates the more abstract aspects of running a multi-family residence; addressing board and tenant issues, balancing the books, and keeping the whole endeavor within the letter of the law. A co-op or condo is more than just a home, however. It is also a business that employs vendors and contractors, and residents can only benefit from familiarizing themselves with the independent contractors who provide their buildings with common in-house services like laundry rooms, gyms, and basement storage facilities.

Duds ‘n’ Suds: Who’s Handling Your Skivvies?

Certainly the most widespread of building amenities, laundry facilities have long proved to be a good investment for many co-ops and condos. Generally hassle-free moneymakers, on-site laundry facilities are both a convenient amenity for tenants and a stable source of revenue for the building itself. What’s more, most companies that install washers and dryers also repair and maintain them, and some even manage them as well.

Typically, when first engaging a contractor to install washer-dryers in a building, most boards initiate a bidding process. This process, while seemingly simple the first go-round, can become increasingly difficult later on, particularly if the chosen provider insists on having the right of first refusal written into their contract. The right of first refusal clause stipulates that when a laundry service provider’s current contract with a building expires, the provider has the right to meet any genuine bid from a competitor. Should the company match the bid, the building is bound to allow that company to continue operating, regardless of whether or not the building wishes to switch vendors.

Although the right of first refusal clause has become increasingly less standard operating procedure among laundry service providers and careful negotiation may eliminate it, some companies prefer to keep the clause in their contract. Board members would be well advised to involve their attorney in review of the final contract. If a board is going to tie their building to a vendor for a long period of time, it’s in everyone’s best interest to pay close attention to a provider’s service reputation and history.

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