New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Balancing Resident Experts' Help with Your Paid Professionals' Expertise

Bill Morris in Board Operations on July 24, 2012

New York City

Illustration by Liza Donnelly
July 24, 2012

That being said, there is one important caveat that condo and co-op boards must keep in mind. The outside professional expertise of board members should serve as a complement to — and never a replacement for — the guidance of the building's professionals, from the lawyer to the property manager to the plumber. Overriding the advice of hired professionals can lead to a world of woe.

"Most professionals on boards, I find, are professional enough to realize they should not be volunteering their expertise to replace the advice of the building's professionals," says Paul Gottsegen (right), president of Halstead Management. "Under the Business Corporation Law, a co-op's board of directors is legally protected only if it heeds the advice of its hired professionals. If they follow the advice of someone on the board, they're not protected under the law."

Which is not to say that property managers and lawyers don't — or shouldn't — welcome advice, expertise, and opinions from board members. "Each board member contributes his or her knowledge to a decision — general business knowledge," Gottsegen says.

"That's always a benefit. But a graphic designer who sits on the board doesn't always know the best and cheapest way to get Local Law 16 fire signs into the hallways. The property manager has a wealth of information, and he should know when to go to a higher professional.

In other words, sometimes the professional thing to do is leave it to the professionals.


Illustration by Liza Donnelly

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