New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




Keeping Building Residents Informed… Especially When It's Bad News

Chelsea, New York City

The Lines of Communications
April 13, 2015

"I live in a co-op that has been without gas (for cooking) since October. While the building’s management company e-mails us occasional updates, it has not been forthcoming about what caused the problem," writes one of the building's frustrated shareholders to Ronda Kaysen in this week's "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times. Six months is a long time to wait, and this resident feels powerless about expediting the process, and says he doesn't even know whether appropriate experts are "on the job." These are issues that a communicative board could have avoided. We've reported in the past that — on various issues, including straightforward renovations — keeping all building residents in the loop can go a long way toward keeping tempers in check.

And we don't mean sending a notice saying, "Gas is still off." The board should let building residents know what's going on and why. Certainly let them know the steps you are taking to resolve the problem and how long it's going to take — and keep them informed of all scheduling delays. Sure, you might still get some of them grumbling, but it will be a lot less angry than offering them nothing but radio silence.

In the case of this Chelsea co-op, the issue is gas. Gas leaks are nothing to mess about with, as we have seen in recent weeks. Kaysen recommends that this resident "reach out to the board [to] ssk why the gas has been shut off and what steps are being taken to resolve the problem. Concerned shareholders could call for a special meeting to discuss the issue." Although the board may have a very good reason to have shut the gas off for all these months, it looks like it could have been more proactive about communicating with the building residents — which brings up another issue.

Arguably, this building resident in Chelsea shouldn't have to be the one to push the board for information it should have communicated to building residents in the first place. But Kaysen's advice is spot on. As in any democracy, it is up to the populace to keep tabs on the board. It may be time for a changing of the guard. Perhaps it's time for other residents to run for office and inject things with a healthy dose of fresh perspective.

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