Last year our co-op board met for the annual election, and after that meeting they were never heard from again. Nobody knows who is the president, and there has been no communication at all. Is this a violation of co-op bylaws or just stupidity?
JG IN NYC
It’s poor communication by the board and management company. The bylaws and proprietary lease would define the requirements, if any, following the election. If you are in New York State, the Department of State requires that corporate ownership information is kept current.
Their site (http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html) allows you to search for the current data. You can contact your management company as well and ask for the information. They would normally be present at the meeting where the elections were held and should see that the state info is updated as required by law. You can also speak to any of the previous board members and ask them if they know who the news ones are or ask the super.
A couple of questions:
• Was essentially the same board re-elected or is this an entirely new board? If new it could simply be stupidity (naïveté). If the same board, I would be concerned.
• If this is a re-elected board, did they exhibit the same behavior before they were re-elected? If the same behavior, then, sadly, you knew what you were re-electing. If it is a radical change, I would be concerned.
The suggestion about contacting the managing agent is a good one. Keep in mind, though, that the managing agent company is hired by the board and answers to the board. They may defer to the board when answering your questions.
Were the votes counted at the meeting or afterward? Were any of the positions contested? Are there any big money projects going on or scheduled to start soon? If this is an experienced board whose way of doing things has suddenly changed, it bears looking into closely.
MARK B. LEVINE, RAM (EXCEL BRADSHAW MANAGEMENT GROUP)
In buildings that I manage, I like to take the opposite approach and give as much information as I can to avoid issues such as these. We’ll often post the board/officer list in the [public] area of the building and will send out a shareholder/unit-owner mass e-mail notification with this information as well.
Our board meets monthly, we have an e-mail address that shareholders can use to contact us, and the names of the board members are posted each year a day after the annual meeting. Can a group of shareholders get together and request that the board start doing what they should be doing?
NED IN TORONTO, CANADA
It depends on your board’s bylaws or rules and regulations. In ours, the co-owners can request a board meeting, and there is nothing preventing them from issuing a petition against something. If your board is not “doing what they should be doing,” who else other than your shareholders are going to tell you?
I’m with Mark: communicate, communicate, communicate. We implemented a suggestion box in two buildings, and [have] everything posted monthly (anonymously). In the list we report “kudos,” “questions,” and “concerns.” And we even include criticisms of the board. This way all residents can see the suggestions and the board’s responses. We also post a “board meeting highlights” bulletin after each meeting and just started a bimonthly newsletter to fill in any communication gaps.
Want to participate? http://www.habitatmag.com/Board-Talk