Almost every community is made up of people from a broad array of ethnic and sociological backgrounds living in close proximity to each other. Managing a co-op or condo that’s home to different people from different backgrounds can pose some very distinct challenges.
For some managers, the board’s financial status seems likely to be the biggest hotbed of potential conflict, but Erik Levin, CEO of American Management Group in Pembroke Pines, says it all comes down to politics.
“Whether it is politics of the different boards or the many different types of residents, it’s all the same, and almost everything that operates the association boils down to politics—who wants what, when and how and who does it benefit,” says Levin. “For example, as managers we know what typically needs to be funded in any given budget, and that almost always includes a line item for bad debt and reserves. More often than not, these line items are removed or seriously underfunded—and politics plays a major part in those types of decisions.
Levin explains that boards do not want an uprising of owners when fees are raised to compensate for delinquent owners. Most residents feel that while reserves are important, they can be pushed back—and hopefully the same owners won’t be around later to deal with the issues when they arise.
“To be fair, most people want to see a properly funded budget, but because of politics decisions are usually swayed in the majority interest of owners or in some cases a small group of owners,” he says. “Those are often times where we unfortunately find that owners join boards because of their own agendas, whether to reduce maintenance fees or keep the association from foreclosing on their unit(s), or they may want to personalize certain areas of the building to accommodate their own taste and needs. This presents us with many issues to overcome and it takes someone with the skill and experience dealing with politics to navigate those issues.”