Mind Your Manners, Mr. Board President A Look at Board Etiquette

The job of a co-op or condo board member seems pretty straightforward: have meetings, take votes on this or that item of business, approve checks, keep an eye on the budget, and so forth.

That’s the administrative part of the job. But board membership also comes with a whole slew of legal and ethical considerations as well—many of which the board member may have never stopped to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the common ethical and legal pratfalls board members fall victim to, and how to avoid them.

Freebies

Back in high school, when this reporter worked at McDonald’s, the owner instructed us that any police officer who came to the restaurant ate for free. “If we give them free food,” he said, “word will spread, and the cops will hang out here, or keep more of an eye on the place. That’s what we want.”

It’s unethical (if not illegal) for cops to accept freebies like that, but it happens all the time. It certainly happened in that McDonald’s, which, to the best of my knowledge, still doles out free burgers to the boys in blue. For the price of a few burgers and French fries, the owner got what he wanted—extra security.

The same sort of thing can happen in a co-op or condo, where board members can receive the maintenance equivalent of a complimentary Big Mac.

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