A condominium, cooperative or homeowners’ association thrives or falters based on how all of the various stakeholders involved can come together in effort to achieve a common goal: the maintenance of a successful and stable residential community. Excluding the buildings and associations that are self-managed, this means creating cohesion between owners/shareholders, their elected board, and their hired management company. That board/management relationship is especially important, as those two bodies are the ones who shoulder the majority of the burden of running things day-to-day. Thus, how board and management deal with each other is crucial to maintaining both harmony and property value. And given that it is the vendor in this transaction, it really behooves management to make sure that things are consistently amicable.
Open and frequent communication is paramount in order for board and management to establish the professional dynamic necessary for an association to thrive. With various personalities at play, everyone involved must be aware of how best to deal with one another in effort to minimize conflict.
Alex K. Kuffel, President of Pride Property Management in New York City, urges managers to get to know each individual board member, assess their respective contributions, and find out what they expect from management. “Board members volunteer their time without pay,” Kuffel notes. “Thus, it’s on management to do all that they can to assist in a timely manner, and to try and be as proactive as possible, rather than acting passively and always requiring direction and guidance for routine, common-sense things.”
For the sake of accountability, it’s always in management’s best interests to keep a board in the loop for even the most minor of decisions. “We blind-copy the board on almost all of our emails, and we never take it upon ourselves to make a decision on a property, whether it be change-of-vendor, staff, or repairs,” says Jackie Monzon, Co-Founder of New York City-based Crystal Real Estate Management, Inc. “I have encountered some management companies that believe the property is theirs once a contract is signed. We believe otherwise. We work for you, and all decisions should be group decisions. Management is there to advise and facilitate.”
Management should be in arm’s reach of a board at all times, according to Richard E. Stern, President of Sutton Management in North Andover, Massachusetts. “The board needs to be able to contact a manager without limitations when a crucial issue presents itself,” he says. “Whether it’s a broken pipe or collection issue, management needs to be ready to respond with a quick email. And at bare minimum, boards and management of large properties should hold monthly meetings. Smaller properties can get away with holding them quarterly. These meetings should be used for review of all financial reports, delinquencies and contracts that need be signed, along with any resident issues and violations.”