Having a condo board personality
Last week we talked about needing a condo personality in order to successfully live in a condominium community. This week we’ll assume you have the right personality, have bought and moved into your dream condo and now you want to serve on the board. Get ready for boards untamed.
It’s frequently thought that people who serve on condominium boards are controlling, egotistical and possibly corrupt. Well, sometimes all or some of these elements are present in condo board members, but mostly they’re just every day people who want to contribute to making the community they live in function for everyone and stay on budget.
That being said, there are a few guidelines that wouldn’t hurt anyone considering taking this step to follow just in case they forget exactly who they are. Board members have a fiduciary duty to discharge their duties and uphold faithfully the rules outlined in the community condo documents. This doesn’t mean you have to commit them to memory, but it does mean that you have a working knowledge on the important features within the documents. It is certainly helpful if your association employs a condo manager who will help the board of directors understand what is within the documents in order for them to make good decisions.
Board members are obligated to treat everyone the same, even themselves. If you’re volunteering for the board because you want to get the tree blocking your view cut down or have your building painted before the others, forget it. There are certainly a lot of ways to manipulate maintenance to your benefit, but eventually you’ll be found out resulting in at the very least embarrassment.
Again, remember that you have a fiduciary duty to spend the association’s money properly and in the interest of all residents. True, you are a volunteer, but condo associations are basically businesses and need to be run as such. Your decisions could affect not only property values, but also lifestyle.
It is always best to have a professional management company available even on a limited basis, to advise board members who come from all walks of life. Condo managers can be hired to perform a full range of services including hiring and managing your maintenance personnel to simply providing occasional guidance. My opinion is that if you’re thinking of buying a condo that is self managed without the expertise of a professional, you’re possibly letting yourself in for a world of trouble.
Finally have a little humility. Yes you have the power and ability to direct maintenance and finances in a direction that would benefit you, your pals and other board members, but everyone knows that and will be watching. Don’t impose your will on everyone else by claiming you’re the only one who knows how to handle this based on your previous life experience. By the very nature of community living decisions need to be made by consensus.
If you as a resident are not happy with the way your board of directors is handling things wait for the next election and run for the board. Having your voice heard is part of the democratic process, so stop complaining and step up.
In the 16 years I’ve lived in a condominium association I’ve seen everything from outright out of control egotism resulting in lost revenue to downright incompetence. One way or another we survived, got rid of the bad apples and flourished. The key is to have the correct condo board personality. I you don’t, stay off the board and find a hobby.