Can You Hear Me Now? Responsible BoardOwner Relations

Communication is vital to running a successful condo or co-op building. So what happens when homeowners complain that board members are not listening, and—even worse —ignoring their complaints and problems?

Well, you can bet it will not foster warm, fuzzy open lines of discourse. Instead, it can create animosity and even more problems for a board that comes across as indifferent to the views of its constituency. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. With a few strategies and techniques, boards can handle homeowner complaints and queries—ranging from noise, odors, pet waste, late-night furniture rearranging to leaks and squeaks—and owners can understand what to reasonably expect from their boards when it comes to resolving problems.

Here’s how it can work to the benefit of both parties to make problem solving not necessarily easier, but more realistic.

The Who

Board members serve at the pleasure of the community as a whole, but they're not personal servants for each unit owner either. While board members should learn how to best respond and act on complaints from unit owners, unit owners should also learn how to approach board members if they truly want to have the best chance of getting their problems fixed. There are myriad variables that reflect how, when, and why a board may deliver a response to the query of an owner or a resident. It's helpful to remember that a condominium or co-op board consists of people from different walks of life who are more likely than not otherwise employed; thus handling community affairs is not their primary gig. Because of this, it helps to approach them respectfully, and during operating hours. Accosting a board member at home, over the phone, or when she's out going about her private business is not likely to get your question answered in an expedited fashion.

Josh Koppel, president of HSC Management in Yonkers, attests that, while “most boards would like to respond to every shareholder inquiry, one has to remember that they are volunteers and have professions and lives. It’s a selfless and unappreciated position that people take on; time and effort is required.”

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