Just One Big, Happy Family...? Remedies for Dysfunctional Boards

Finding the right balance of involvement between HOAs and condo boards and residents can be like maintaining a healthy relationship with a significant other—you want to be compassionate, responsive and attentive, but not too needy, nosy or aggressive.

With our busy and hectic schedules, associations and boards might run the risk of being apathetic and disinterested in the status and well-being of the building, leading to unbalanced reserve budgets or broken lights in common areas.

While this lethargy can be an annoyance to those who would like a more dynamic and proactive voice regarding the comfort of their home, the opposite side of the spectrum can also be cause for serious concern. An association or board that oversteps its boundaries, intrudes on the privacy of individual residents and pushes the legal envelope can cause internal sickness, leading to tension, arguments and the end of what should be a long relationship life span.

Power to the People?

The extent of power boards have over the communities they govern does not have to be a mystery, as they are laid out in a building’s bylaws and governing documents, Adam Berenson, vice president and partner of New York City-based Dermer Management, explains. These powers are listed in the bylaws, however, misinterpretation can occur. This is when a property manager or attorney is needed for guidance.

“There’s always interpretation but that’s when we step in as a property manager and try to keep the boards on track and if they do try to overstep their bounds we might say, ‘Look, you may want to rethink that.’ But we try to keep them on track and guide them,” Berenson says. “When you get to something that’s really complicated, you may have to bring in an attorney to clarify the situation.”


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