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Convincing the Board - BP Apr 11, 2007


I'm on my board a long time. We have very little debt and a reasonable reserve. For years I've asked my board to paint resident service areas, patch holes in storerooms to keep out mice and bugs, and do general repairs in bldg rooms that haven't been touched in years. Total cost is $4K-$5K.

They say why spend money on areas visitors don't see. They want to redo the lobby for $50K only because they want a more "modern" look, and to redo our landscaping which is fine and thriving. I know curb appeal is important but how do I convince them some bldg work has to be done and the cost won't break our bank? I feel like doing the work myself (which I won't) but this is very frustrating.


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I know what you mean and believe me, I am with you. If your lobby and landscaping is still in good shape, it may need some retouches at lower cost to make it look refreshed. HOwever, total care of the building is important to even increase general quality of living of the building.

Years ago, the compactor rooms in my co-op were painted, holes patched to prevent bugs, and new ceramic tiles were used to make the room look nicer. The cost was less than $2,000. Interesting enough, many residents put down the project and even came to say they looked like shower closets, etc.

A year later, they were praising the look of the place and what a great idea was to do them over.

In your case, learn from water and wind. The elements will not break or wear the rock in one day, but over a period of time. If I were you, I would go to the pet shop and contribute to the point by planting some mice and roaches to add to the point! Well never mind devilish idea. When budget time comes, try to convince the board to put a discretionary amount of money such as $4K or $5K to do minor projects that will contribute to the enhancement of "occult" areas of the builidng.

Good luck!

AdC


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Thanks for the advice. The property manager and I have tried to work money into the budget for minor projects and my board won't go for that either. And these are different board members, not all the same ones every year. They don't get it that because a bldg hasn't caved in doesn't mean it doesn't need work to keep it in good shape. Maybe something has to cave in before they got the picture. ugh


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A problem that I see in many board members is their lack of interest for the physical plant. I have told board members to come for a walk on Saturday or a Sunday to look at all the problems. GREAT IDEA!!! but the words do not follow the action.

So, when I tell them that we need to excavate certain areas of the foundation because of water penetration, they look incredulous.

What can I tell you. Unless it happens in the apartments of those who serve, it is not considered life threatening. No wonder you find individuals with garage doors that make noise, yet they questions whether the co-op needs to pay for it, or the gas leak behind the wall and who to charge for the problem.

AdC

AdC


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That is the problem with some people on boards. They are there to service themselves only with no regard to anything else that happens to shareholders. I too am in the same boat. Can't get the board to focus on anything small that will aid in the long run. Keeping bugs and rodents out of a building is more important in the long run than having a pretty lobby. Where did these myopic people come from and when are they leaving? People elected to boards should be looking at the big picture to run their buildings


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I have found over the ages, that a building that has the mechanical areas, basements, elevator rooms, etc., clean, painted and well lighted add to the motivation of the staff. It also gives the staff pride. In other words it is not a dingy place to work. Also, the attitudes of contractor change as well, when they work in such well kept buildings (they tend to do a less sloppy job). While these areas are hidden to most people, so are the rewards of their good up keep.
It is rather simple, pay a little now or pay much more later as the cost may end up costing more then just money later.
Not sure if I am making any sense.
PGrech



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When prospective buyers have building inspectors come, they often look at "private" areas, and these inspectors will note how well you maintain the building as a whole. Exterminators, contractors, and other vendors notice these things, too.

Our building has made an effort to maintain such spaces, and I speak from personal experience; our building has a reputation as "well kept." It makes a real difference in attitude from outside visitors.


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Thank you for giving another perspective of the positive.

You're absolutely right! It adds to motivation, it adds to perception of vendors and inspectos.

I would say that in my builidng, we have tried to keep these areas painted, and above all clean. In fact, the staff is reprimanded if they allow vendors to be sloppy in these areas. There is no reason why a vendor is paid for a service and leave things in worse shape.

Finally, the fact that clean areas are a morale booster to employees is a fact and I thank you for those good reminders!

AdC


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When my children were in junior high school in Rockland County (previous residence), the principal and I were very well acquainted as we both were active Scouters.

The story he related to me, which is probably germane here, was his philosophy on graffiti. Basically the custodians had standing rules that graffiti needed to be cleaned or painted within minutes of discovery as one begets many.

Likewise in a co-op, a failure to pay attention to detail in one area, so begets poor or slovenly practices in many areas. Some practices may even give rise to hazardous conditions that could lead to injury. A case in point is our indoor and outdoor parking areas. As soon as a vehicle is discovered with an oil leak, absorbent materials are applied and the resident is admonished to remove the car and have it repaired, lest oil accumulations lead to pedestrian slips or falls and damage to the protective coatings.

While we don’t “fine” in our building for infractions by shareholders, we do admonish via formal letters.



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Don't quote me on this Ted but I think they refer this as "the broken window theory". If left unchecked it becomes two, three, etc windows broken.

FN.


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I agree that poorly maintained bldg areas can be hazards. Our 2 stairwells were used by everyone, including movers, during our 8-wk elevator upgrade in '05 and a power failure in '06. Some residents use the stairs daily for exercise. Steps have cracks/broken edges. You think I get my board to patch/paint the stairwells? Last time was 1997. They won't even spend money to just repair the faulty steps. I also suggested battery-operated stick-on lights for stairwells in case of future power failures. They said no to that too. I guess someone has to fall down the stairs and break a leg (and probably be sued) before my board wakes up.

I'm tempted to ask shhldrs at the annual meeting to vote on allocating, say, $20K for small bldg jobs. I'd avoid saying our boards repeatedly refuse to do it. If I can't avoid saying that, my board will resent me for going "straight to the people". I'd rather not do that anyway, but I'm at a loss for other solutions to this. Anyone have more ideas?


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I agree with each and everyone of you on the above. It should be the upkeep and maintenance of the entire property.

Should we not worry about the service entrance as many shareholders/guests come in the main entrance anyway?

Not many people use the storage facility in the sub cellar so that is OK I guess? (why sweep and mop it)

It is the housekeepers that mess up the laundry room, so let them sort it out.

No,no,no, last time I checked this was part of the property. And yes, shareholders do notice. A good superintendent will perform periodic inspections, write up punch lists and if it is within his/her power take care of it. If funding is needed the super should bring it to property manager/boards attention (documented of course)

Fat Nickie




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Sometimes in situations like these it's best to get back to the basics and see if the Board is in compliance with governing documents and applicable law.

Maintenance of common areas is one of the Board's major responsibilities. It seems that the "minor" repairs, especially those to keep out vermin, are unavoidable. There could even be code violations there. Not repairing these areas could be putting the building at risk in a number of different areas. A Board that does not act could open itself to fines and/or lawsuits.

Regarding the facelift, again, the Board has fiduciary responsibility to the owners. Is the facelift in the best interest of the building? Can the Board's decision stand up as "prudent business judgment."

Otherwise, think about a vote by all shareholders. There may even be a clause in your governing docs that requires a vote if capital expenses exceed a certain amount. If you go that way, make sure the shareholders know the impact the costs would have on the building’s finances.

Where are you in the lifespan of the building's major components? Will your building be able to recover the cost of the facelift before it's reasonable to expect, say, an elevator or boiler replacement?

Finally, maybe you can get some compromises to reduce the costs of the facelift.



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board disagreement - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


One of our shareholders just moved in this year and uncovered a pre-existing condition within the walls of their aprtthat will result in the bldg having to repair with an outside plumbing company. In addtion, most of the work will be done in the bldg outside the shareholders apartment. This also opened up several other issue within the bldg that will require repair.

The board wants to charge the shreholder for everything and I feek this is wrong. what do we do. Shouldn't tne bldg's insurance pay as the shareholders ins already denied claim


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Again, the condition is important. There are conditions that do not make the building to collapse, but if the condition is dangerous or is damaging the co-op and other units, then BE THANKFUL, take care of the problem and BE DONE!

I don't understand a board who is afraid to fix things. If ASSESSMENTS are required to take care of the problem, SO BE IT! After all, boards are responsible for conditions that they know that may threatened lives or major catastrophes!

Our building had two joist issues discovered after the resident moved out; so we bit the bullet and took care of it. It cost $5000 to fix the problem, but we do not have a whole room collapse into another person's apartment with potential for injuries.

AdC


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there was a pre-existing gas leak in one of the main risers that was caused(many years ago) by a long screw placed in to the wall to hang something up. The new shareholder uncovered this and their Ins. will not pay becuase they did not cause the leak.

It turns out that there is more work being done for items not up to code that have nothing to do with the leak itself. (these repairs were picked up by the dept of bdlgs)


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Please no more anonymous posts. Give yourself a name (even Mary Jane) so be it. Then we know who we are responding too. Its impossible to respond to anonymous. (now was that anonymous that posted the question, or anonymous that was responding?. See my point

Bob.


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Yes. Point well taken. Do you have a response?


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I am getting how this works now. Yes. Point well taken. Do you have a response?




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It is acknowledged that the shareholder did not place the screw in the wall that severed the riser. Two lines were shut down and all of the work was done by a well known plumbing company in NY. The screw was so old that it had the concrete of the wall all over the screw. It was probably done years ago by either the former shareholder or a worker in the bldg.

The shareholder wants to do work but the board will not let them do anything until they clear the additional 17k plumbing bill added to their maintenance. The shareholder was advised to make an offer to the board to settle. The board, knowing all of the facts, will not budge.



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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards




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First, you should rationally address each topic, i.e., the nail has nothing to do with the out of code work. So, the fact that out of code work is being done does not mean you are to hang the bill for a nail.

Staring here...

(1) There are many things that will accidentally cause problems in common areas. In this case, a nail that penetrated or broke an old pipe. However, the nail was not driven by the current shareholder, or you cannot prove that this is the case.

Then, the co-op as the ultimate landlord for the building has to step in. Tough! Did you have the gas turned off for the entire building??? If this is the case, then I feel sorry for the co-op.

(2) Work out of code: A co-op should have an alterations / renovation policy and anyone who is to do work in a building should submit papers to the co-op for review. Demand licensed plumbers and electricians, review certificates of insurance, find out from the code what types of work require permits. Obviously, you cannot allow shareholdersto do work w/o the co-op knowledge. People usually have good intentions, but they are probably as ignorant as your board when it comes to renovations.

AdC


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It is acknowledged that the shareholder did not place the screw in the wall that severed the riser. Two lines were shut down and all of the work was done by a well known plumbing company in NY. The screw was so old that it had the concrete of the wall all over the screw. It was probably done years ago by either the former shareholder or a worker in the bldg.

The shareholder wants to do work but the board will not let them do anything until they clear the additional 17k plumbing bill added to their maintenance. The shareholder was advised to make an offer to the board to settle. The board, knowing all of the facts, will not budge.


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Well, in this case, let the shareholder sue the co-op and be finished. For $17K, I will do it if in the case of the shareholder.

A board that cannot distinguish night from day should be fired when elections come!

AdC


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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards


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Agreed,however it came to a standstill and the shhldr was not allowed to do future work unless they cleared this bill. As Attny fees would be in excess of the 17k,Shldr reluctantly offering 5k to settle just to move on.

do you think this was not a smart move by the shldr based on the circumstances?

Regards



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Well, what's done is done. If the shareholder caved in, that's its problem.

However, the board who pressed so far should go to bed with not such a clean conscience. Too bad!

AdC


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Thank you for your comments and insightful thoughts. If the board were to no charge or settle woth the shhldr, do youknow how would they absorb the cost? Is the only way by assessment or do they take the money from the reserve fund? Have a nice day


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I tell the board at budget time not to cut their nails too short since there is a need to scratch money from stones if necessary. With this said, not only do we pad our budget a bit to take care of this contingencies, but if necessary and depending on the magnitude of the repair, you either go to reserves and/or assess to replenish your reserves.

I find it EXTREMELY unethical to charge for something that was there and was found through incidental construction.

Case in point, last year we uncovered an A/C that was pulled from the wall by God knows what renter or shareholder at one point in the history of the co-op. The co-op found the problem because a commercial space that had not been rented in years was getting water through the head of the window in beautiful days. The problem was traced back to the unit above. The co-op, not only paid for the sleeve ($270) but for its installation. If this story could have cost more to the co-op, the co-op would have taken care of it, because the board knew that the sleeve was not taken by the person.

AdC


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No Subject - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


Do all coops have nominating committees? and is this a way of the board obtaining as much control as possible over the coop?


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How do you recruit your board in your co-op?

First, one should learn from politics. Some forms of democratic governments throw out their legislative bodies if the elected president and the legislative body come from different parties. This is done to eliminate the wasted time arguing party issues.

Second, a board may look for shareholders who may exhibit certain characteristics: discretion, good judgment, vision,initiative and show some preocupation for the property as such. (No need for PhD's or extremely impressive credentials - I know many "well educated" individuals that you question their practical sense).

Obviously, to wait for surprises at the annual meeting is foolish for a board. You may get a shareholder who may try to advance its own agenda, or you may get a shareholder with mental issues (certified, of course!) attempt to run for the board. There are many shareholders who may not know these individuals and when they present themselves they may sound impressive. So, shareholders may be willing to give them a try to the detriment of the co-op.

Obviously, a Nominating Committee should not be controlled by the board, and the committee should do the most to make sure that information on each individual or even informal meetings are held to promote all the candidates. However, from the many years on the board, I think that a good board should try for sharholders with the right skills sets to make a productive board member who will bring advancement rather than division to the corporation.

AdC


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thank you. Do most bldg's have term limits for President, etc....?


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Speak with your co-op counsel as to how you go about instituting terms if this is perceived as desirable, whether an Amendment is required or just a simple Resolution of the Board.

Now... terms may be good or may be bad. As they say, every action has an equal but opposite reaction. Some presidents and board members do a great job. Consequently, if they like to serve, then you may be at an advantage. However, as long as you have new members who get into the the board and are trained you have succession. Contrary to what many participants of this chat room say, presidents and board members are not all on ego trips, or are controlling. So, each situation is special and temrs is just a matter of preference.

AdC


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Your by-laws will tell you if term limits already exist. If they don't and you want them, you'll have to amend the bylaws, which probably requires a vote of all shareholders.
I would suggest that before you go that way to limit only the terms one can sit in each office -- that is, one could be president no more than three terms, but membership on the board can be six years, or even unlimited.
Remember that the more vacancies on your board, the more volunteers in your building you'll have to recruit for this thankless job.


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We have a shareholder who left because of health reasons, got the operation, recovered and was re-elected to board for a two year term. And there are some shareholders who better not even think of running for the board again. They will be met with serious protest. But so far we don't have terms limits.


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Term limits can be good in some cases. New board members can bring fresh ideas/perspectives to the table or weed out self-serving or ineffectual members. The best board is a mix of new and old. Those who aren't new provide stability, experience and continuity which every board needs.

Term limits can be bad too. Board vacancies don't always prompt people to run. What if no one runs? What if a few people get elected as a slate and have majority control? If they're new and don't know what they're doing, it can be a disaster - especially if they share a personal agenda and want to do things their way and get what they want.

Term limits can also be a problem in smaller bldgs. Board members may try to get certain people to run. They may convince someone but if that person's heart isn't in it, that won't make for a good board member. It's hard to get an ongoing flow of new board members in smaller bldgs. If you know most/all of your shareholders, think about the ones who probably wouldn't run because they're:
-- not interested enough or don't want the hassle
-- are mainly focused on their work/career
-- often work late or travel a lot on business
-- have many other obligations (e.g. family)
-- may be very ill or elderly

Then there are those who don't live in the bldg...aren't (in your opinion) qualified or whom you don't want on the board...are very new to the bldg and (in your opinion) should get a better "lay of the land" before they run for the board...never come to an annual meeting or even send in a proxy. There may be a few who own two or more apts. After you eliminate all these people, you may have a handful who could be potential board candidates in any given year - if they want to run and, of course, they'd have to be elected.

Shareholders in my bldg (60 apts) voted down term limits a few times. Almost all felt it's unnecessary. But as AdC said, each situation is special. Whether a bldg is large or small, it depends on the board, how effective it is, and what the bldg needs.


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AdC makes some good points, but I've seen it work in the opposite way. In a coop where I used to live, the board essentially chose whom it wanted to fill vacancies. Then, at the annual meeting, the board nominated a slate. It happened amazingly quickly, as if it were an auction. Like this:
BOARD PRES: I open the floor for nominations.
FRIEND OF BOARD PRES: I nominate the slate.
BOARD PRES: All in favor?
And it was done. Not even a motion to close nominations, let alone a call for others to run.
So if there's to be a nominating committee, I agree with AdC that it should exist separate from the board.


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In addition to believing in independent co-op nominating committes, I believe in drumming up the business for the board. I speak to shareholders who have demonstrated many of the following traits and/or virtues: independent thinking, concern for the building, integrity, ethics, responsibility as a shareholder, and good judgment. I don't recruit among FRIENDS. In fact, I can say, as a board president I have NO FRIENDS.

Why do I recruit members for the board?

1. I don't want to come to an annual election with SURPRISES.

2. I would like to see a board composed of shareholders who exhibit the outlined traits and/or vitues so that their talents and decisions can be put to work, free from the influence of FRIENDS, who exercise prudence and fairness at the time of decisions, a group of shareholders who will work in harmony for the advancement of the co-op if elected.

3. I would rather present 5 good candidates for shareholders to select for 3 positions, but sometimes reality is that good people may not be available that year for personal reasons; but if I were to have them, I would present them all. Why? because it gives variety for shareholders to select from.

Two problems I had to face last year:

1. The investor who only had 10% came to the annual meeting with a second representative to be elected. The investor got one position. The second representative was outvoted because the board (to the dismay of the Habitat's forum readers) collected proxies to ensure a quorum and that business would be transacted and proxies were voted against the second representative.

2. A shareholder who has serious health issues and does not exhibit 90% good conduct and judgment submitted its name. Well, there were many new shareholders who do not know the person who casted a vote for this individual. Having a person on the board with such issues would have been as explosive as a roadside bomb.

AdC


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Assessment for Bldg. Improvements - Anonymous Apr 10, 2007


I sit on the board of my Bldg. and we just passed an assessment to the shareholders that have caused quite a stir. I happen t agree with the shareholders but do not want to tell the board this.

Th cost is too high and the approach was wrong.
The job should be done on a lower scale and in phases. How do I get theother members of the board to change things before the assessments begin?


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You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders are to spend their money


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How many members does your board have? How many minutes, hours and facts did you gather to arrive to the assessment, the size of the assessment and the way the job is to be accomplished?

Obviously, a board should have carefully considered all the angles of the problem to be resolved and what is the impact of the assessment on the general shareholder population. In fact, board members may be also exclaiming Ouch!, but may have more facts on hand.

Unfortunately, shareholders have opinions and plenty of Ouch!, but may not know the full implications of the need for assessing.

What do you need? Articulate the need for the assessment and why the board has considered the assessment and the way the work will be done as the best solution to the problem.

Good luck!

AdC


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thabk you for the response. many shareholders in the bldg have approached me with these very same questions. the shhldrs have also submitted a petition to call for an open mtg prior to the first assessment in May. Are they entitled to know all of this? I would think so

They are also asking if they make the first payment of the year long assessment(maybe more)does that make them liable for the rest. On the flip side they want to know what the repercussios are for not paying and placing the money in escrow until sorted out.

your thoughts.....


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First, read or review your By-Laws regarding the power of the board to fix the budget and any additional amounts required to cover repairs, etc....Obviously, there is a need to refer to your documents so that people understand that the power of the board.

Second, a board out of courtesy should be upfront with shareholders. An open shareholders meeting helps dissipate any problems with perceptions. The board should put the cards on the table relating to the decision and shareholders, no matter how much lamentation and grinding of teeth they may do, will have to accept the decision. After all, shareholders elected them to do the HARDBALL decision.

Putting your assessment in ESCROW is a NO!!! Read your documents and find out if there is such an animal available in your case.

Again, BOARD members (who work for the advacement of the co-op) are elected for the purpose of breaking their heads in good faith to advance the business of the co-op by taking the required decisions, no matter how unpleasant or umpopular they may be. Shareholders have an obligation to question and find out understand the decision Also, they have the right to vote for the right board members and nominate themselves if they feel they have the character to make decisions that may not always be applauded.

Finally, a board that communicates and overcommunicates will get their point accross even when they know their decision may be unpopular. An open shareholders meeting is logical and good for the co-op when decisions that affect the lives of shareholders are on the table.

AdC


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I am the President of my board and although the board most probably can do what they want, if they are not polling the shareholders concerns and being prudent with the cost associated with the job, this should be raised by a shareholder as a representative of the non-board members then


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This is nonsense! But take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC


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This is nonsense! But DON'T take it personally, but the main thing as a board member is to know what your responsibilities and obligations are as a director.

So, you assess because you have a fiduciary responsibility to (1) keep the co-op above water (2) keep the property in good repairs.

Now... part of the equation is to communicate. If boards do not communicate you raise the suspicious flag. So, present the issues as they are. If you are not elected again, SO WHAT!!! You took care of your responsibility.

A problem wih many boards is not knowing how to state regularly what is happening and the challenges that the board faces. Part of the problem is BLOWING YOUR OWN HORN and prepare the way for incrases, assessments and any measures that require tough decisions.

AdC




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>>"You should speak up and not let the board dictate how shreholders (sic) are to spend their money."<<

This misconception is one of the toughest parts of being a board member: the idea that owners somehow don't have to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of their own property!

On the contrary, the reason a board exists is to determine just how shareholders' money will be spent to keep their investment safe, in good condition, and in a state to increase in value.

The board does not "dictate," Anonymous, it makes decisions on behalf of shareholders -- the very same shareholders who elected them. If you don't want others to decide how to maintain the property you share with them, either get a seat on the board or sell and buy a house.

Finally, remember that board members are shareholders too -- they are subject to the same assessments as everyone else.


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If you, as a Board Member, act outside that venue with your concerns -- i.e., as an "agitator" siding with other Shareholders -- you will end up alienating the other members of the Board, and could possibly split the whole co-op.

Do you really want to live in such a poisonous environment? If not, I strongly suggest you make your best case TO THE BOARD for handling the assessment differently -- and, if you cannot, that you resist supporting efforts to subvert the Board's decision. As a Board Member, your responsibility is to the health and safety of the co-op as a whole. If you cannot convince the Board of your logic, try discussing with the individual members their reasons for supporting the assessment; they may change your mind and/or help you better understand and support the Board's point of view.

Alternately, you could try to help the Board find a point of compromise between its position and that of Shareholders who are not on the Board (just keep in mind, such Shareholders have not been privy to ALL of the facts, and to the Board's deliberations, and therefore will not have completely informed opinions).

But I urge you not to foment a "palace revolution" -- that will only have really bad consequences, and it could take your co-op years to recover. Work towards consensus, always.


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inappropriate fees - frustrated Apr 10, 2007


Thank you all for this good guidance.

We did everything suggested here: wrote the letters, sent digital photos, demanded (to no avail) the plumbers' report, requested mediation (but received no response), stated we would take legal action and finally consulted an attorney.

Our conclusions to date:

-We can't force the board remove the charge without taking the coop to court. Court & attorney fees would likely far outstrip the sum in question.

--We were advised, alternatively, to either file a claim with our homeowners' insurance, or to pay the charge and to try to recoup the funds in small claims court. In the latter case, we're afraid we'll find ourself unevenly matched, against the corporation's attorney.

Certainly seems to suggest a need for "abusive board" legislation.

Further suggestions very welcome!




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mediation - firtinella Apr 10, 2007


You were right, all. The board refused. Looks like we're headed to court.

Thanks, anyway, for your good advice.


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Do you use specialized attorneys? - Fred Apr 07, 2007


We have an attorney that can handle pretty much anything, but we're doing some construction work and our board wants to engage a different attorney just to review the contracts of the engineer and construction company. Our attorney says reviewing the contracts is not a problem for him. Do we really need someone who specializes in construction just to read these contracts? Or is it better to stick with the attorney with whom we already have a relationship?


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We have a house attorney who handles closings, letters to shareholders, modest legal research, those in arrears (admittedly this is a partly sum as typically we are but $6,000 in arrears in a 500 unit high rise), ongoing contract renewals.

For some forms of litigation, e.g.: another building, next door, we employ another attorney, the municipality, etc.

For labor issues, e.g.: a new union or new union contract, we employ a labor attorney versed in NLRB activities and laws.

For capital improvement contracts we use an attorney, who himself, is a trained engineer.




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sponsor or investor - Jack Apr 06, 2007


The unsold shares in our building were sold this year.
Is the new owner a "sponsor" or "investor" If an investor
do they have the same rights as the original sponsor. I.E.
voting for officers of the board at election.

What rights does he have? He has no input in the building and gives no help to the hard working board who have their day jobs too. How can we insist on some help from them?


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Jack - Our proprietary lease (para 38) says "unsold shares" for an apt cease to retain their character as such if:
1) someone buys them and he (or a family member) lives in the apt, or 2) the sponsor/original holder(or a family member) lives in the apt himself.

The new owner becomes a regular "shareholder". He doesn't have any more/less rights than the others do, and you can't force him to help the board. If he wants to help the board, he has to be elected to the board, or on a committee that reports to the board, if you have committees.

If someone buys "unsold shares" and DOES NOT live in the apt, only rents it for investment purposes, that's another, more complicated matter.

Also - whoever is the holder of shares is the one who has the right to vote for a board or on any issues. By the way, in most coops, if shares are sold (by anyone), the buyer isn't necessarily the one who can vote at the coop's annual meeting. Whoever holds the shares when the meeting notice is received is the one who can vote. For ex: If the notice is received May 20, a closing is June 10 and the meeting is June 15, the seller votes the shares. The buyer can attend the meeting but can't vote.

In any case, consult your attorney on all these matters. He should check your proprietary lease and other governing documents for what applies to your coop.


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Ask your attorney who should have at least told the board about the sale and given you some idea of the new buyer, and whether the old sponsor still is financially responsible if there is a default of the investor.

Similarly, you should get more particulars of the sale by way of a new amendment to the plan.

Finally, if your old sponsor had a representation on the board, the new one will probably retain participation. Whether the sponsor participates or not through a representative (management company or directly through a representative), it is a blessing or no blessing. The sponsor or investor will participate if it owns a large block of shares of the building and wishes to have a say on financial issues such as maintenance, capital investment, refinancing, etc.

I would rather have the sponsor or representative participate as you may be able to work closely on tenants issues, and obtain opinions or advise on conractors, service providers and professionals. Obviously, you need to know why the sponsor representative is there for, but again, if you make the person feel you are willing to work with him/her, you may be able to get more out of the relationship than maintaining an adversarial relationship. In fact, if you have a good board and the sponsor is part of it, you may end of builidng a formidable team that may help advance the business of the corporation more than you ever imagined.

AdC


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Super vs. Resident Manager - V Apr 06, 2007


What are the differences in a super and a resident manager in terms of duties, expertise, licenses? Is the super supposed to be more skilled in electrical, plumbing, painting plastering and general repairs?


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simply put, the major two differences is that a
1/ superintendent is more hands on and has a small staff. A resident manager (RMs) has more staff and less hands on. RMs have more supervisory and administration duties then supers. Both superintendents and RMs need to have the same licenses, permits and Certificate of fitness for buildings with identical systems.
2/RMs tend to earn more in salary and both can be union or not.

As for plastering and painting etc. Some superintendent do that work, some don't.
Both RMs and superintendents need the same skills in general repairs and system operations and maintenance. Just that superintendents perform some or most of that work, while RMs see to it that it gets done.
peterG.


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Thanks!


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Pgrech is pretty much on the money on this one. If I may add the following. A lot of superintendents go on to become RM ( by gaining experience on the job and also through education courses and classes). As Pgrech mentioned there is a lot more administative work which tends to take the pressure off the manageing agent,as well.Examples are coordinating construction/renovation projects, coordinating work schedules, move in/out, dealing with vendors,making sure that you have the correct paperwork when dealing with contractors(insurance certs, licenses).Dealing with staff and shareholder issues. There also tends to be a little bit more interaction with the board, attending board meetings etc. Haveing said all of the above, in the event of an emergency, the RM most roll up his/her sleeves and address the situation (even if it means getting your hands dirty) Finally most RM work clothing will be either suit and tie or polo shirt etc.




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He calls himself the resident manager but dresses in a uniform like a super. He delegates work like an RM but every holiday season he is listed as the superintendent. He does some administrative work and he makes a good salary. He has his licenses but can't do plumbing or electrical work. But he has a small staff. Hence my confusion. What is he?

Would co-ops save money by hiring supers rather than resident managers?


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Good question V, now when you hired him was it as a Super or a RM? Do you have a handyman as well on staff? We did spell out the basic differences so you decide what you have. After all it is your building and you call the shots.

FN


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We have no handyman on staff, just the RM and the two porters. We are a new co-op. The RM came along with management who we also did not hire.


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V, see PGrechs? response. It is based on the number of employees/staff. I not sure if it makes too much of a difference what he likes to be referred as. I know RM that are called supers and vice versa. Secretarys are now know as office assistants and recently heard of a security guard being referred as a real estate monitor/guard.

FN.


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Actually Nikkie, the next generation of Resident Managers are already calling themselves "building managers".
How stupid are they especially if they are unionized. Which is why I always have maintained that we should be just called supers. Anything with the word manager in the title will endanger union status.
Pgrech


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Hmmm the super/Rm came with the Management company. Interesting. Make sure everything is double checked by the board. Super/Rm keep each other in check and balance. This may not be so. The word being MAY.
Pg


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Union defines resident manager as a super who has a staff of 7 or more (including the super in the 7). Thus once the union has made a RM contract for your building it wont change unless the staffing changes. So if you are non union then the title can change as you like. But then you may suffer the consequences of that change.


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Does the SEIU have a different classification (pay scale) for a Superintendent v. a Resident Manager ? In our coop, the Super has recently adopted the Resident Mgr title on his own. We refer to him as a Super, that is what we hired and he has a Super classification in his labor contract. If the Resident Manager title has a different payscale, I guess we would need to address that concern with the Super, as he manages a very small staff.


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Rick from what I understand there is a set salary in the union contract for supers. Having said that, many buildings with good supers may pay them additional bonuses if they are good so as not to loose them to other buildings e.g. monthly or holiday bonus. Normally Resident Managers will sit down and negotiate a salary before they are hired as they tend to have more experience.
Hope this helps.

FN.


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Actually Nice, There is NO SET PAY SCALE for supers or Rms. ONLY the pay increases are set, and which is a minimum amount per years. If you look at the "union book" you will find a pay scale for Handymen and Others (doormen, porters, etc.) but not for supers or Handymen. Also Supers union contract come to an end on April 20th while the RMs union contract comes to an end in June.
There are many RMs making less money then supers. But mostly RMs make more money. I did a survey a few years back and found the Most (which means not all) RMs make over $65.000 per year while Most (which means not all) Supers make up to $60,000 per year.
In actual reality there is no significant diffacere between super and resident manager in NYC. Out of NYC resident managers have almost a completely different role. How much does a super or RM make is based on historic salary for that building. This does not include Merit Pay. Good to outstanding supers and RMs make there own deals after that historic amount or (base amount). Outstanding RMs earn in excess of $110,000 per year and full union benefits while outstanding supers earn in excess of $70,000 per year. The difference is not how well the super/Rm can negotiate and what credentials he/she has to back up his/her worth. In most cases, size of building has nothing to do with how much a super/RM earns
Pgrech


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Hey, P not quiet sure I agree with your last statement on super v RM. I am of the opinion the larger the building/responsibility the more the super/RM should get paid (not always the case). Do you not think that a person that has a 400 hunded unit apt building with forty staff should get paid more than someone with eighty units and four staff.

FN (Happy Easter)


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I agree with you Nickie but in truth, I can give three examples of a super in biuldings with under 28 apartments each that earn over $70,000 and a few RMs with 400+, 600+ apartments earning between $65K to $70K. Its nuts. But some buildings Value their super/RM and others just dont care.
There does exist an in equity of value vs salary and Size verses salary.
All i was saying is in reality size dont count much when it comes to salaries. How good a super/RM is and can negotiate is.
Happy East mate.



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well V, while it is the function of a super or RM to run the building, it is certanly not his function to pick his title. Further more, in due respect, who runs the board? super, managing agent or the board themselves?
Becareful of titles, while most of the time they satisfy egos, when unions are involved they can end up more.


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I agree with both, Peter and Nickie, we all mostly share the same duties and responsibilties in running our buildings.


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

We recently gave our building Super (union) a raise & his title is now Resident Manager, even though it’s a very small building (just 50 units).

He prefers to wear a suit & tie now, rather than a uniform, but has taken the liberty of sending his clothes to cleaner we use for the staff’s uniforms, thereby charging the building for cleaning his clothes (which he wears to other occasions, not just work).

My sense is that if he chooses not to wear a uniform, he is responsible for his own clothes.

Thoughts, please?

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important cap gains question - ba Apr 04, 2007


cant ask the accountant as we are in the process of getting a new one - but have a question -

if an assessment for a capital improvement project, such as a new roof, is dissolved by being rolled into a maintenance increase , then can we still realize it as part of the basis on sale of stock? (thereby reducing the tax on sale) - ?

or does it have to remain a seperate line item as an assessment?


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I believe someone offered you the answer previously: keep it as a separate from maintenance (even if collected with maintenance) so that the assessment earmarked for a capital investment is appropriately identified and segregated.

AdC


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HELP> someone who knows - please tell me. thanks


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ideally it is a seperate line-item but does it HAVE to be? that is my question - what are the ramifications when a board rols it into a mntnce increase (Please someone who knows the answer.. thanks!) adc - not you. sorry. please .


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...but the odds are good that money spent on a new roof can increase basis & reduce your cap gains tax, even if commingled rather than collected separately.

Whether or not an item is assessed does not factor into the definition of "capital improvement."

While it's better if assessments are kept discrete, what you actually spend funds on is more important than how things are labeled on your budget. It's customary to take stock at year-end of what capital improvements--even small ones--were made using funds on hand. [Condo owners should get a yearly report on same to update their own books.]

Focus on keeping good & complete records of the actual improvements made.


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What are the implications?

(1) Maintenances are based on routine expneses.
(2) CapEx is a variable expense based on the needs of your builidng based ideally on a schedule.

The most adverse impact of rolling maintenance and capex into one budget would be that maintenance will swing dramatically from year to year.

If your new roof will cost the co-oop $200,000, but next year the isntallation of the new boiler is $110,000, your maintenance will have to fluctuate dramatically to cover the requirements of the capex. Thus, it would be difficult for shareholders to sell an apartment whose maintenance depends on the capital improvements that are projected that year.

This is why operational expenses are separated from capital improvements. To provide a better balance between expected expenses and expenses that require planning, reserves, and other forms of financing.

If you were to look at any annual report or 10K of any publically traded company, capex is a separate table in your presentations and are not rolled into the income statements of the co-op.





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What are the implications?

(1) Maintenances are based on routine expenses.
(2) CapEx is a variable expense based on the needs of your builidng based ideally on a schedule.

The most adverse impact of rolling maintenance and capex into one budget would be that maintenance will swing dramatically from year to year.

If your new roof will cost the co-op $200,000, but next year the isntallation of the new boiler is $110,000, your maintenance will have to fluctuate dramatically to cover the requirements of the capex. Thus, it would be difficult for shareholders to sell their apartments whose maintenances depend on capital improvements that are projected that year.

This is why operational expenses are separated from capital improvements. To provide a better balance between expected expenses and expenses that require planning, reserves, and other forms of financing.

If you were to look at any annual report or 10K of any plublicly traded company, capex is a separate table in the presentations and are not rolled into the income statements of the corp.







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