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What's the right number of board members for the building?

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Every co-op or condo resident wants a board big enough to effectively represent the entire building; on the other hand, we've all heard the old saw about "too many cooks in the kitchen." 

In the interest of achieving this delicate balance, Habitat Magazine recently came up with some handy guidelines. As you might expect, the size of the board should depend, in part, on the size of the building. A seven-person board is often the standard number written into building bylaws, but that can be expanded or pared down depending on how many apartments they represent.

The key is to have enough members to keep anyone from "burning out," and Habitat recommends a number that will allow "sub-committees" to break off when necessary to report back to the rest of the board about specific issues. Some buildings have a "staggered" board of directors, meaning that one "class" of members is elected one year, and another "class" the next, each for overlapping two-year terms. This allows for some fluidity on the board while also ensuring that there will be continuity, and members with knowledge of ongoing issues.

So what to do if you think your building's getting its numbers wrong? It depends on the bylaws. If yours allow for a change, the co-op or condo can pass a shareholder resolution at the next annual meeting (or convene a special meeting) and change your board's size with a majority vote. If, like some buildings, yours has a specific number of directors set in stone, you'll need to amend the building's bylaws themselves, but if you've got a board that's not pulling its weight (or is too big for it's own good)? Well worth the effort to shake up the routine.

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