New England Condominium January 2022
P. 1

What Size  
Company Is Best? 
A Question of   
Service & Scale 
Management Contracts 101 
Negotiating Your Community’s Most  
Important Contract 
January 2022 
205 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY 10016 • CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED 
There are elements of board service that can vex even the most committed, most intrepid  
volunteer—and negotiating a building’s management contract is probably at the top of that list.  
Vexing or not, however, the extent and quality of services available to your building community  
hinges on what’s in that contract; managers and management companies are obligated to provide  
what’s agreed upon in it—nothing more, nothing less. That’s why securing the appropriate terms  
for the appropriate price is an essential component of maintaining a sound, properly functioning  
The Nuts & Bolts 
“Management agreements are the basis from which managing agents assist and help operate  
properties on a day-to-day basis,” says Mark Hakim, an attorney with Manhattan-based law firm  
Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. “A management agreement is intended to be ‘soup to  
nuts,’ providing a roadmap of the agent’s duties and responsibilities, including administrative and  
financial matters. The agent is intended to be the arm of the board, generally handling all matters  
during the term of the agreement, while the board continues to make the actual material deci- 
sions. Some ministerial decisions, like purchasing of supplies and so forth, are delegated to the  
managing agent so the board can focus on the bigger-picture items.” 
 And while “management agreements for co-ops and condominiums contain many boilerplate  
provisions,” points out Dennis Greenstein, an attorney with the New York office of global law firm  
Seyfarth Shaw, “the devil is in the details. There may be unique physical, financial, and staffing  
considerations that should be considered and provided in the agreement to cover them.”   
 And while there are certain elements that are pretty much universal from one contract to the  
next, “it’s not a standard real estate contract—every management company has its own form,” says  
Scott Piekarsky, an attorney with Phillips Nizer in Hackensack, New Jersey. That being said, “items  
that should be included and should be standard include, but are not limited to: the fee, whether the  
fee may change and when, and by what fee schedule the client is to be charged for services outside  
of what the contract specifies. It’s also important to define when the contract ends, whether it’s  
cancelable with or without cause, and what the potential penalties for doing so might be.”  
The State of the  
Management Nation 
How 2 Years of COVID Have  
Changed the Profession 
Like just about every other occupation  
on the planet, property management has  
been profoundly altered by the coronavirus  
pandemic and the changes it’s brought to  
society at large, with many of the challenges  
and stressors we’ve all had to face hitting resi- 
dential management industry professionals  
especially hard. Despite the proliferation of  
apps and other innovations that have enabled  
many tasks to be handled remotely, the fact  
remains that for everything from physical  
plant maintenance to apartment inspections  
to resolving resident conflicts, property man- 
agement remains a hands-on job. Adjusting  
to the “new normal” of periodic lockdowns,  
remote meetings, social distancing, and the  
ubiquitous threat of a deadly virus has cer- 
tainly taken its toll on everyone in the busi- 
ness. But it’s also led to some silver linings and  
unexpected bright spots along the way. 
Going Remote, for Better or Worse 
Depending on the industry—and who you  
ask—remote work, virtual everything, and the  
technology used to make it all possible have  
been either a blessing or a curse (or a fair bit  
of both). On the one hand, many can skip the  
commute and work in their PJs, and compa- 
nies can save on the overhead expenses that go  
with a brick-and-mortar office. On the other  
hand, many employees miss out on friendly  
water cooler chat and the ability to conduct  
business with colleagues in person.  
Across  the  country,  property  managers  
express the same duality in their experience,  
finding that while platforms like Zoom and  
Skype have enabled them to continue serv- 
ing their client communities and keep things  
operating despite restrictions on indoor gath- 
erings and other  face-to-face interactions,  
there really is no substitute—and in many  
cases, managers consider an in-person, on- 
Co-op and condo communities come  
in all shapes, sizes, and configurations.  
They range from three-unit, wood-frame  
houses to high-rise apartment buildings  
containing hundreds of units, to sprawl- 
ing townhouse communities in park-like  
settings. Like these communities, firms  
specializing in their management and op- 
eration can be large or small, generalist or  
boutique. The question for boards, share- 
holders, and owners is, what type of firm  
is right for you and your community? 
Big vs. Small, General vs. Boutique 
There are management firms that em- 
ploy literally thousands  of professionals  
in  all sorts  of specializations,  and small  
firms that employ just a handful of spe- 
cialists. Size does not dictate approach,  
however. Some firms are more geared for  
the efficient and effective execution of  
basic, daily management tasks—let’s call  
them generalists—and some take a more  
tailored approach to provide each client  
with exactly the experience they are seek- 
ing. This dichotomy between generalists  
and boutique firms has much more to do  
with  a company’s  professional  approach  
than with how many people it employs. 
“Large firms offer more redundancy  
in terms of both services and personnel,”  
says Stephen DiNocco, owner of Affinity  
Realty & Property Management, based in  
Boston. “Some clients view this as more  
availability, in that there’s always some- 
one there to cover their property’s needs.  
That’s not to say that smaller, more spe- 
cialized companies can’t do that, too, but  
in general, larger firms have a larger client  
base, so it makes sense to offer more ser- 
vices. They may have an accounting arm,  
an insurance arm, etc. In some markets,  
they can also offer a slightly better pricing  
structure.” However, he adds that bigger  
companies are often more bureaucratic  
and less flexible. DiNocco says that “cli- 
ents also may be obligated to engage with  
the ancillary services the management  
firm provides. You will get ‘sold’ on their  
in-house service providers, and may feel  
you have to use them for those services.”  
continued on page 10  
continued on page 9  
 Ellen Shapiro, an attorney with Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks  
in Boston, adds that once finalized, “management contracts are often  
sacrosanct—very little can be changed.” She explains this to her clients  
when they seek her expert advice before entering into a management  
agreement. “Like any contract, though, the standard management con- 
tract should contain start and end dates and financial considerations,  
as well as the role and duties of the manager.” The expectations of the  
continued on page 8
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