Ask an Expert

Spilling board secrets to a spouse

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
June 22, 2010 - 7:00AM
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Q: Is it appropriate for the spouse of a board member to read confidential communications between board members, including board packages submitted by buyers and refi applications of neighbors?

A.  Appropriate? No, say our BrickTank experts.  Unavoidable?  Maybe.

“It is never appropriate for board members to share confidential information with anyone outside the board, even a spouse,” says property manager Dan Wurtzel, who notes that board members may need to be reminded about this.

Real estate lawyer Jeffrey Reich explains that board members have fiduciary obligations, including protecting personal information, that their spouses do not.

Some boards require that each member sign a confidentiality statement if confidentiality becomes a problem.

But property manager Thomas Usztoke says this amounts to formalizing "unenforceable rules of etiquette regarding spousal ‘eavesdropping’ on confidential communications. Such a household dynamic is benign at best and at worst, the source point of open public gossip that typically ends with the director’s service on the board.”

Another property manager who declines to be identified adds, “If you trust your spouse to keep things quiet, who else better to share that confidential information with?  Better your spouse than a gossipy bartender or hairdresser – at least you have a chance of it not being leaked.  I think Obama has issues with this too.”

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Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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