The board of a condominium, cooperative, or homeowners’ association literally exists to serve, and to represent residents’ best interests in the day-to-day business of the association. The relationship between owner/shareholder and board member is symbiotic; one doesn’t exist without the other. And as such, the former party can often feel entitled to board members’ time and attention.
Sometimes this is perfectly appropriate – but occasionally, residents may overstep, aggressively encroaching on board members’ personal space and overstepping boundaries. Even if a resident has a legitimate grievance or issue to raise with their board, it’s important to remember that board members are almost always volunteers with demanding outside lives; they’re not full-time receptacles for association inquiries, and should not be confronted off the clock in the elevator, the parking lot, or the lobby.
In order to maintain respect and courtesy between board and residents, it’s important for communities to establish an accessible chain of communication of which everyone is aware. This allows residents to express their complaints and queries clearly and non-confrontationally, and allows the board to address issues as they arise, in a fashion that does not involve anybody getting yelled at by the pool.
Utilize the Middleman
While the board members are, by definition, the on-site face of association management, most communities pay top dollar for a qualified outside management company to which they outsource most day-to-day tasks that don’t require a formal vote. So while it may be easier to knock on the door of Jane in 2B to dispute a maintenance charge, oftentimes a better result can be obtained by reaching out to management.
“The board spends a lot of its time doing unpaid work, and, when not acting in official board capacity, members do not like to be bothered in the hallway, or have folks come to their units and interrupt their personal spaces,” advises Bart Steele, Assistant Vice President of Premier Property Solutions in Boston. “We recommend that all communication comes through management first, which allows us to filter issues to the board as necessary. This is especially helpful due to the massive volume of email traffic – especially at larger buildings – and also allows us to document everything that transpires.”