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Choosing the Best Staff for you Condo and Co-op

Employment Law, Real Estate Legality

How do board members and managing agents of co-ops and condos choose who to hire? It is an important decision as these people have access to the building and private owner and shareholder information.

Depending on the building’s size and the number of residents, buildings will typically hire staff for positions such as superintendents, doormen, maintenance and sometimes building security. How does the board and managing agents know who is right for the job? As prospective co-op shareholders and condo owners need to be vetted by the board before getting approval to purchase a unit, the same applies to prospective building staff seeking employment. A building will usually conduct criminal background checks, drug testing, and credit report checks, in addition to receiving references from past employers.

The interview process is the most helpful tool when choosing the best staff for your building. The board needs to gain a sense of the person’s ability to manage responsibility, conduct their duties and ensure they have adequate common sense to deal with day-to-day obstacles. Boards should ask about the applicant’s prior work experience and duties, education, reasons for the gaps in their employment history and why they left their last position. In addition to general competency requirements, staff members will need different skill sets for different positions. Doormen require excellent communication skills, good attention to detail, and the stamina to work for long hours, particularly for night shifts. Whereas maintenance staff will need to have the experience and know-how to help residents with various issues throughout the week from leaky faucets to an electrical short. If the managing agent is conducting the interviews on the board’s behalf, ensure the agent discloses material information so that the board has final approval.

What not to ask? Since last November, employers may no longer ask prospective employee’s salary history in New York. When asking about an applicant’s criminal history, the board or managing agent should ask whether the person has been convicted of a crime as opposed to being arrested. If someone has been convicted of a crime it does not mean they should be automatically ruled out. Discuss the pros and cons with an attorney to ensure you are making the right decision for your building. Finally, it is imperative not to discriminate or ask questions pertaining to age, marital status, gender, religion and race.

After the hiring process boards and managing agents should continue to provide training and support the new staff members. This helps maintain an efficient and organized building. Various unions provide education and training to doormen, porters and maintenance staff. The Service Employees International Union (Local 32BJ) “train[s] every participant to grow to the next level and continually raise the standards of the industry by providing 32BJ members with the tools they need to meet the challenges of a changing industry.”[1]

[1] Geberer, Raanan. (Feb. 2018) “Hiring Staff.” The Cooperator. Available at: Accessed on March 2, 2018.

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