So You Want to be a Board Member? Now What?

I wish someone had told me the nuances of trying to cultivate a community while also trying to manage a business,” said Pat Burke, the current president of the Fieldstondale co-op in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, when asked what he wished someone had told him when he joined his co-op board 12 years ago. “The two tasks are usually in dire conflict, or so I’ve found.”

Time is Not on Your Side

Being on your building’s board can be a time-consuming job, says Jared McNabb, CMCA, PCAM, a property manager and vice president of acquisitions with Crowninshield Management Corp., AMO, a property management firm in Peabody, Massachusetts. “People are working more hours. Many times boards meet in the evening hours, beyond 5 o’clock, and at that point a lot of folks are home from work and may not have the time or desire to do anything but come home and relax or take care of their own errands.”

While being on the board can take up quite a bit of time, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert on the nuances of property management or administration, says Mary Ann Rothman, the executive director of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC), “You just need to be willing to give the time and attention. No particular expertise is required, but it does make sense to read the proprietary lease, the bylaws and house rules of your co-op or condo and note any questions you have and ask those questions before joining.”

Keith Hales, the president of Hales Property Management in Chicago, however, says, “A board member should be familiar with how condominium associations operate as well as generally how a business operates.” He adds that reviewing the condo act or your local condo or co-op laws, the condo declaration, bylaws, and any rules and regulations of the particular building community are also beneficial.  

Act Responsibly

“The biggest requirement to us is that they must act in the best interest of the condo association,” says Hales. “Other attributes of a good board member include responsiveness, have a hands-on approach, attention to detail, reasonable expectations, and ultimately understands their responsibility.”

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