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Ask an Expert: Can my wife and I both run for the board?

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Q. My wife and I are legally separated but still own a condo together.  She lives there now with our two kids.  

She got onto the board last year and is trying to push through some expensive improvements to the building (playroom, roofdeck, lobby renovation)  that I'll be subsidizing even though I don't live there anymore.  

Can we both run for the board in the next election? And can I serve on the board even though I don't actually live in the building?

A.  That all depends on your building's rules, say our experts.

"Many have prohibitions against more than one owner of a unit serving on the board and some prohibit husband and wives from serving simultaneously," says co-op and condo attorney Dean Roberts of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus

As far as whether you need to live in the building, "Most don't have a residency requirement, but some do," says Roberts.  "You should review the bylaws and any specific board resolutions that may limit who is allowed to serve."

Even if you are not able to stop the improvements that your almost-ex-wife wants, all is not lost, point out our experts.

"Investing in building amenities, such as playrooms, roof decks and refreshed lobbies, as well as fitness centers, modernized laundry rooms, etc., add value to the property and increase apartment value," says property manager Thomas Usztoke of Douglas Elliman Property Management.

These types of improvements can help your building compete with new, amenity-laden condos and sometimes come out on top, depending on the original bones and vintage of the building, says Usztoke.

So while you might not make use of the improvements personally, "you will most likely benefit from increased value upon resale as a result of them. Also your children will benefit from the playroom," notes Roberta Axelrod, a real estate broker and asset manager with Time Equities


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