Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Can you change management companies if a few board members are opposed to the move? How do you do it?

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Question:

The majority of my board wants to hire new management. Are we allowed to do that without the consent of all the members and how do we go about it? Signed, Heading for Splitsville

Answer:

Dear Splitsville,

In my experience, the answer is yes. As in other decisions a board makes: majority rules. Like other businesses, you have the right to dismiss a management company that is not up to your standards. Look at your contract and check what your requirements are regarding minimum notice and other factors. You also do not want to alienate the old company as you may need them to make a smooth transition. So tread lightly and follow the rules.

Now for the hard part: You will have to research and interview potential candidates. Check trade publications that advertise management companies. You could also ask other residents of nearby buildings for their input.

While you want to hire a reputable company, the property manager, who will be your day-to-day, go-to person is key. So, when you interview the company, make sure that that person is also available to interview. Also, let them know what you are particularly unhappy about with your current management and ask how they would do things differently.

Since the entire board is not on board, you will have to find a private place to meet. You will also need a list of questions to help you evaluate the potential hire. Here are some examples:

  • How much do they charge per year?
  • How much are the extra charges such as payroll, copying, and mailings?
  • Will the property manager attend every board meeting as well as the annual meeting?
  • Will there be a separate financial person available to review your budget?
  • How many buildings does each property manager have in their portfolio?
  • How often will the property manager visit your building?
  • Who is on staff to handle Local Law 11 issues, renovations, and architectural reviews?

When you have made a decision, take a vote, inform the current company, and let your shareholders know about the change. This is not an easy transition, but it certainly is doable.

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.