Dealing With a Menacing Landlord
Becoming Active in a Co-op
As a longtime resident and shareholder, I have been asked to run for my building’s co-op board. What would be my duties and responsibilities?
Greenwich Village, Manhattan
There are many thankless jobs in this world, and being a member of a co-op board often makes the list. It is an unpaid — and frequently time-consuming — position. When things go awry, your neighbors blame you. But it has upsides. You get to know the inner workings of your building and help decide its future.
Just how much work is involved depends on the culture of your board and building. Before you launch your campaign, go on a fact-finding mission. Find out what issues are facing the building and the expectations for board members. Ask other board members about their own experience: Did they like the job? What did they do? Did it consume all their time?
“It has been quite the learning experience,” said Janna Pea, who joined the board of her Bronx co-op four months ago. “From figuring out the process of obtaining a new boiler for the building, to looking at — literally — 50 shades of gray for paint, I am constantly learning.”
Some boards are very hands-on, while others rely on managing agents to do the heavy lifting. However, all board members must satisfy their fiduciary duty.
“This means a board member cannot do whatever he or she pleases,” said Steven R. Wagner, a Manhattan real estate lawyer who was previously the president of his building’s co-op board. “Board members must act in good faith, with undivided loyalty to the cooperative and in accordance with the governing documents of the co-op and the law.”