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24 Feb 2017
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How to be a Good Board Member to Avoid Litigation

  

The best managed co-ops and condos are those with exceptional board members. Not only does this create a sense of community, but it reduces the risk of the board running into litigation disputes. Shareholders select board members to make and implement day-to-day decisions for the building. As a board member your role is to protect the interests of all tenants, owners and shareholders.  This requires playing an active role, effective communication, and demonstrating good leadership.

Communication

The key to good management and avoiding litigation is communication and transparency. As a board member, you need to regularly take the time to communicate with other board members, tenants, owners, shareholders, staff, and the super. Maintaining these relationships creates a good sense of community and culture. Understand individual concerns, and implement an easy system that allows non-board members the opportunity to share their ideas or concerns.

In addition to communicating in person, send out newsletters and emails to ensure that everyone in the building is up to date. Treat everyone equally. Listen to their input. Make the time to talk to your neighbors. This will create a positive atmosphere and when issues do arise, residents will not be hesitant to talk you. Make sure you take care of any complaints in a timely fashion (usually 24 hours).

Ask for Help

As a board member, it is vital to know when to ask for help and who to ask in order to make the best informed decision. When there is a problem with the building, whether it is a financial or maintenance issue, it is important to be transparent with building residents to avoid future disputes and litigation. If the board is unsure how to solve a problem, in addition to speaking with the building’s counsel, it can be beneficial to ask other owners. In times of crisis, well managed boards have conducted 30 to 60 minute Q&As between the board and unit owners. Not only will owners appreciate the time you take to hear their concerns, but this is a good method to brainstorm solutions. Having financial troubles? Consider getting advice from a financial education management company that has experience in advising board members.

Decision-Making and Leadership

Resolve issues quickly and efficiently. Commit time to tackle your building’s obstacles. Board members are burdened with making tough choices on behalf of the building. It is key to ultimately make decisions that benefit the building and owners in the long-run. Certain short-term decisions might be unpopular. However, if board members effectively communicate the reason behind their decision-making, residents will be more understanding. During these times, maintain a positive attitude and be mindful of others to avoid any potential disputes.

Demonstrate good leadership. To keep your residents happy and expenses low, ensure that projects are completed in the allotted time frame. As a board member you are responsible for hiring efficient and expedient contractors. Keep residents informed of how the work is coming along. Do not leave any room for uncertainty.

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