Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: How do I know if my co-op board is doing a good job?

Your co-op is probably your biggest investment, so it makes sense that you would want your co-op board to do right by you. Here are the ways you can keep tabs on what's going on.

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Question:

I live in a co-op and my board seems to be doing an ok job. But, how can I tell if they are doing the best for my building? How do you measure a co-op board's performance? Signed, Need to be in the Know

Answer:

Dear Know,

Many times you never really know if a professional is doing their job until a crisis occurs. So unless your primary care physician misses a glaring illness or your accountant causes the IRS to contact you, everything seems fine. With a co-op board, however, you do have options.

First of all, in addition to the board, there is a management company who are the professionals in managing your building. While the board implements procedures, it is the management company that tells them when and how things have to get done. They are the ones who monitor building violations and suggest vendors that have done a good job in their other buildings. They handle complaints from shareholders and manage the staff.

And then there is also a board attorney, who takes care of all legal matters.

Your board should be thoroughly transparent so if you have a question or concern you may call anyone on the board or the management company. My board is always sure to publish all individual phone numbers and email addresses immediately following the annual meeting and election so shareholders can get in touch.

Also, the budget is usually given out at least once a year and you should review it. Most of the costs are fixed (real estate taxes, staff salaries, etc.) but there's probably a good 10 percent or so that requires some good decision making. 

Another suggestion: Check your proprietary lease to see what issues need a majority or three quarters of the shareholders to vote in favor of. Your vote is important, as is your participation. So, make sure you attend any and all meetings that are open to the shareholders. Review the meeting minutes each month. Vet all the candidates each year and vote accordingly. And, if you really want to know what’s going on from the inside, consider running yourself. 

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.