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Fines for House Rule violations - FJ Jul 28, 2008


Our governing documents permit fines (up to a certain limit) for House Rule violations. If your coop has adopted fines for breaking House Rules, has it worked out well or caused resentment and backlash? Do you have a 3 written warnings and then a fine sequence?

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We apply fees, as these are more defensible.

If there are persistent and recurring violations and thus warrant major action, our attorney notifies the offending resident that the Proprietary Lease will be suspended under the terms of the lease and, if a mortgage is outstanding, we will notify the mortgage holder.

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board president purchase - rene Jul 27, 2008


hi everyone...

the president of the board needs a windows computer to access our operating account. Since he has a mac, right now only the treasurer, me, has online access to the account. He suggested the board buy software for his computer ($300) so he can run the application on his mac.

keep in mind we are having trouble paying bills as it is....

In addition he says he will buy the software and then provide the board with a receipt and have then he can get reimbursed with a credit on his maintenance.

He said he has done this before, but it just doesnt sit well with me. Is this a familiar practice by board presidents?

thanks in advance for your help.

rene

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The Board should be able to discuss this frankly and take a vote on the purchase of an expensive software for the benefit of one person. IN your case, the president should be providing FULL justification for the purchase. As treasurer you should be able to obtain the information and provide it to the president as well as other board members.
AdC

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This is a very bad idea. Offer to send him hard copies.

And to protect yourself, there should be an investigation as to exackly WHAT this board member bought, courtesy of the SH, for himself in the past. And put eveything in writing. and in the Board Min...

Full disclosure must be made to all the SH...Otherwise if other bills are questioned, you could be drawn into something that you did not start.
All you need is one disgruntled S/H to start looking into the accounts. and the next thing you know you are being called on to defend your decision -- in court.
VP

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Mac users can use Parallels software which allows them to run PC applications on their Macs. The cost is about $79 and the board member should pay that themselves becoz we live in a Windows world and I'll bet this isn't the first time they have encountered this issue.

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In our co-op, a director, president or otherwise, is not reimbursed for anything, anytime, anywhere.

This means each director pays for his or her own phone calls, mileage, lunches, dinners (yes, that’s right -- we never go out to dinner or lunch on the co-op), stationery, persona;l postage, personal computer software, personal PC stuff, personal printer ink or toner; regardless of co-op business.

About the only thing a director does not pay for is an incoming or an outgoing fax, even if is personal.

And, we never allow a contractor to take us to lunch.

And, if we use co-op office stationery for anything (take a pen or pad away from the office), we reimburse the management office.

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Why does he need Windows? How is your operating account accessed? What is the software that only runs on Windows? Why can't he access through a web browser? I think that are Internet Explorer versions for Mac if that is the problem.

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shareholder right to know - full of questions Jul 27, 2008


Small hdfc coop, we have some market value rentals in apartments that never got sold. Does a shareholder have the right to know when those apartments are being sublet, meaning the market value tenant is subletting while they're away on vacation (call it a sublet of a sublet, I guess)? Does a shareholder have the right to know when vacant apartments that have never been bought (still owned by the coop) are going to be sold? Does a shareholder have the right to know who their new neighbors are?

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The S/H own the building. And YOU have every right to know how YOUR investment is being mananged.

Put your questions IN WRITING by EMIL and copy (some hard copies) everyone in the building.

Start the Email trail NOW...

Good luck... VP

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There is no reason to disclose everything, and there are court cases that define the information that mist be disclosed..

That’s why you have a board of directors -- trust them or replace them.

If you want to meddle, join the board. Get elected fairly.

A co-op is not a social club – it is a corporation – major or private it is still a corporation.

Let the board act as a board and stop with the trivia.

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As anyone who has been a member of a CoOp knows, its easy to say replace them... But not easy to do...

If the board is acting in good faith, and doing nothing wrong, except for sensitve or personal issues -- there should be no problem with full disclosure. Any Board member who tries to convienc you otherwise -- has an agenda!

Any govering body that needs to operate in secret -- should be suspected of everything. We learned the hard way. And are hanving to pay hard cold cash for the mis-manangement of a long-term board -- that we could not get rid of.. We finally discovered FORGED proxies and with a turn over of owners who really do care how the building and our finances are managed... we got rid of the ring-leader, and the rest followed.
VP

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"If the board is acting in good faith, and doing nothing wrong, except for sensitve [sic] or personal issues -- there should be no problem with full disclosure. Any Board member who tries to convienc [sic] you otherwise -- has an agenda!" Judging what is "sensitive" or "personal" and should not be disclosed is the tough part for the Board. I think many boards want to be transparent but they have to make a judgment call not to release sensitive or personal information. In that sense,vp and JudyC are BOTH right. Discussion like this is why Board Talk is so helpful. Thank you Habitat!

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If a board member does not have the sensitivity or sense to know the diffrence between personal/sensitive issues -- than he/she should not be on the Board. If you are acting in good faith, there is noting to hide.

Our building has learned the hard way that given the liberity, some B/M do have personal agendas, and need to be held accountable. We (the S/H and new board) have now spent over $7,000 in legal fees to correct certain building liberties a B/M took as head of the board, which his gofers approved.

Years ago, without any repercussions, detailed Min were sent out, and therefore we have a history of decisions made by the Board. But our previous Man/Co (just fired) tried to stop this pratice, therefore we now have almost two years of nothing being documented in the Min.

One such notation (and investigation) is a Board member FORGING a proxy to be reelected to the Board.

There are Boards in NYC who allow the SH to sit in on Board meetings, but meet in private to discuss personal/sensitive matters.

Unfortunately (as we see in all areas of goverment) B/M are human and have personal agendas and do personal favors. Any govering body that has to govern in secret -- is suspect.
VP

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VP, as Vice President of your Board, can you talk about your building's newsletters, memos, etc. As a Board member, what do you recommend for the kind of written communication to shareholders: how long, how many pages, etc., so you inform without overloading busy people? Thanks!

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"what do you recommend for the kind of written communication to shareholders: how long, how many pages..."

Frequent, and very short! On your website if you have one and in a public area of the building where it is apt to be seen, e.g., near your mailboxes or on a bulletin board reserved for that purpose.

When I served on the board previously, we were very communicative, and people appreciated it. Last year, the board communicated with the shareholders as little as possible---and people really noticed. Our current board (of which I'm a member again) believes in communication; I anticipate a very good and productive year.

When VP says that any governing body that tries to justify operating in secrecy is necessarily not on the level, I couldn't agree more. Communication and daylight...

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We got into trouble when the B/Ms who published the Min left, the board hired a Mang company who wanted to stop ALL min -- and certain B/M had very good reasons to want to govern in secret. If there are no secrets -- there are no prblems.

Years ago, when we had Board min they were simple and recorded in broad scope WHAT was being discussed, results such as "tabled for further discussion" What and Who made the motions
"MrA made the motion to discontinue....:" “ The motion was approved four to thee with MrB abstaining.”, “ MrC made a motion to…, it was tabled for further discussion” … “A disturbance on the 5th floor was resolved.”,, “12A submitted a Bath renovation plan,(approved or) but needs more documentation”
Keep it straightforward, simple and unemotional. Touch on everything (within boundaries) that is discussed. Record votes, and motions. The Board min was never over two pages. The Min is a very important legal record of decisions, precedence being set and financial records. The S/H just wants to know that their issues are being addressed. How their money is being spent etc.
As long as B/M vote in good faith, do their Fiduciary duty – they cannot or should not be held libel for the results of their vote. In today’s litigious world, it is in a board members best interest to keep everything on record, and straightforward.
All renovations approval or work was noted. The previous b/M, who got rid of the Board min, now claims that a major renovation (building onto this terrace) was approved by the Board. But there are no discussions or notes in the Board Min, and we have conflicting recollections from the B/M who have all now moved out.
Brief notes on on-going mang of the building...
One of the complaints at our S/H meeting was about a very unpopular (among a few) decision by the Board. The S/H wanted to know WHICH B/M voted for this so that they would know how B/M stands on issues, run the building and how to vote. Bottom line, we have no idea where any of these people stand on important issues impacting our finances and quality of life.
We had a previous Super who did work for B/M, but even after he was caught taking kick-backs (passed the cost onto the S/H) and doing major renovations without permits -- the Board refused to fire him. The S/H finally took control. But, had the votes and motions (one B/M made a motion to fire him at every board meeting, been recorded, his supporters would not have wanted to go on record.
PERSONAL ISSUES. Owners in errors or personal complaints were not noted, unless there were legal implications. In 15 years of Min, no one was ever embarrassed or personally attached. Law suits (again our special B/M was sued by neighbor(s)) were recorded. In some instances names were left out, but situations were noted.
However what is noted that the above) B/M had various confrontations with staff, and the action taken. (Usually staff was blamed) However, when he forged the proxy, and the S/H got involved -- he was censured in the min, and not allowed to hold an office. (Unfortunately the sponsor held substantial proxies and kept him on the board)

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Amen! More good, honest people would serve on Boards if everyone had this reasonable attitude.

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In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if we had seven peopl, with no agenda to handle our investment. Unfortunatly, as we have witnessed in discussions at Habitat, and our buildings personal experience -- we dont live in a perfect world.

Its the BM who wants to run the building in secret, that you should first suspect.

As one BM put it, I am on the board to take care of my own intrest -- and after thousands of wasted SH dollars -- we have learned that he did take care of his own intrest. He managed to pack the Board(with Sponsor votes, and now we suspect more forgeries)like-minded owners who like him had personal agendas.

Poetic justice. Intresting, All the BM he put on the Board have for various reasons sold thier apartments. Each, found out the hard way, that you do have to have permits for renovations, and without permits -- you cannot sell. Three of the sales were held up for over a year.

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Remove from office by Board - bofdstonyhollow Jul 27, 2008


I need some help fast. Several members of my Board (coop)want the president to step down or they will vote him down. This is because a small group of shareholders are 'up in arms' like they are every year and a capital improvement is taking longer than expected and of course blaming it all on the president since he headed the project. My question is how can they do this for such trivial reasons? Isn't removal from office for serious matters? If you can help, it would be appreciated.

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Check your bylaws. Most co-op bylaws, based on the NYBCL, will state something to this effect: "any officer may be removed from office at any time, and a successor chosen, at the pleasure of the Board, upon affirmative vote, taken at any meeting, by a majority of the then total authorized number of directors."

It sounds like you're not on your board right now. The board may indeed have very legitimate reasons for wanting the president to step aside. They're bound to uphold the fiduciary, and if they believe that the president is not acting in the best interest of the shareholders, they can (and should) take action.

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GK is correct -- but I'd like to add that if your co-op is like mine, the president (and all the other officers) are also board members. So even if the board votes to remove the president (or treasurer or secretary) from office, he/she is still on the board.

That may be enough to solve your problem.

But to remove someone from the board itself usually requires a majority vote of all shareholders.

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That's right. Thanks for the clarification.

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New today. See on the front page: "Ousting a Board Member: How to Remove Disruptive Troublemakers"

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MA--coop vs condo - CS Jul 26, 2008


Is there a difference in yearly MA fees a managing agent charges in managing a coop vs a condo?? We were a coop when we hired this MA and since then we converted to a condo. Someone stated the MA should charge less because there is less to do--I say no, the charge is the same. The only difference really is that we pay our taxes and their is no mortgage( beside no board approval to move in and other little incidentals).

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HECM Coop Reverse Mortgages - Joseph Meyers Jul 25, 2008


On 7/23/08 Congress passed legislation that will now include coops within the popular government-insured HECM Reverse Mortgage guidelines. Undoubtedly, this will create numerous inquiries by senior shareholders in the months ahead who will be considering this type of financing.

In response, coop boards will be looking to be educated on this subject. As a reverse mortgage specialist with Cambridge Sr. Capital (a preferred lender with NRMLA, www.reversemortgage.org) I can address all your questions about this program.

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In lieu of self-promotion.

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Honeywell Thermostatic Radiator Valves - DN Jul 25, 2008


Has anyone on this board had any experience with Honeywell-brand thermostatic radiator valves? We're wondering if it might be good to test in a few apartments in our coop (2-pipe steam) building. Thank you.

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Assess Managing Agent - DACGardens Jul 23, 2008


I am the President of a newly-installed Board at my co-op. We have defined areas where our MA needs to make improvements. Do you know of a "report card," or type of "assessment tool" that's used to measure and monitor the effectiveness of a Managing Agent?

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Congratulations on your new position. Good question. You may want to start here: BUILDING OPERATIONS - Performance Analytics to Quell Performance Anxiety http://www.habitatmag.com/publication_content/2008_march/web_exclusive_adaptations/performance_analytics

Also get the new July/August issue, see Carol Ott's video preview http://www.habitatmag.com

Search Habitat article archives, http://www.habitatmag.com/archive/index.php where this article "Taking Care Of Business" may be found. Good luck.

DESCRIPTION How to make sure your property is being managed professionally and efficiently.
TOPIC Management
AUTHOR Alvin Wasserman
MAGAZINE ISSUE February 2007 - Number 231

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preserving institutional memory - GK Jul 22, 2008


I'm back on the board after a year hiatus. (I'd like to thank some of the very supportive posters like BP, Steve, AdC et al for their helpful comments and for encouraging me not to give in to the temptation of apathy!)

It seems our co-op might stand to benefit from keeping clear and complete records. I've found a helpful article in the Cooperator: http://cooperator.com/articles/176/1/Preserving-Institutional-Memory/Page1.html

The article is from 1996 and could be updated for our increasingly digital and ubicomp age. But it outlines a logical method for organizing building records, and suggests keeping the files in a locked file cabinet in the building. This is the one point where I might differ from the article, which says that keys to the files should go to the super, the managing agent, and the board president. I would prefer that the keys go to all board members (rather than to just one board member; our building is just emerging from problems having to do with lack of transparency and concentration of power in one person) and not to the super or managing agent. Why? Because the super and MA work for us, and their service comes up fairly regularly in our discussions.

I would be very interested in hearing how boards in other co-ops deal with preserving building records. Thanks.

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Please remember that there are records that are retained for specific times. In fact, the real role of the Corporation Secretary is to ensure that records of the corporation are kept according to the guidelines no matter who is the custodian, i.e., the corporate attorney, management, super or the black file cabinet retained by the Board:

http://www.cnyc.org/code/newsletters/2002autumn/aut02_007retention.html

The above posting is a good starting guideline for any co-op board in developing a records retention policy.

I'm glad you are back and contributing. Best of luck on your new term!

AdC

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Thanks, AdC! Very helpful.

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Landscaping - jmg Jul 21, 2008


Our building has two large planter boxes that run across the front of the building. They are in very poor condition and we think the time has come to have them emptied and repaired (brick work needs repair, perhaps the waterproofing membranes too--there is water damage in one of the apartments that abuts them).

Does anyone have a recommendation for a company that can do this type of work?

Thanks

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