Page 16 - New England Condominium February 2019
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16 NEW ENGLAND CONDOMINIUM   - FEBRUARY 2019   NEWENGLANDCONDO.COM  I  n a community association, it falls on   the board to put out any fires that ignite  is that its members have the ability to agree to  – even if that world only consists of the asso-  among the property’s residents. But what  disagree,” says Tina Straits, Vice President and  ciation. Those board members are potentially  insert themselves into the melee in order to   happens when that blaze springs up between  General Manager of Baum Property Manage-  the board members themselves?   Those who volunteer to serve on their  people is not going to reach a consensus on  for the members of the board to be reminded  before they spill out and create issues among   community association or co-op board are  every issue. Where there is disagreement, it is  that their function is to effectuate the admin-  likely to bring strong convictions – and per-  sonalities – to the table. As in any decision-  making body, there is likely to be difference  having a difference of opinion is nothing to  Sometimes that purpose gets lost if directors  can move forward” without being stuck with   of opinion. And if the stakes and tempers rise  take personally.”  high enough, it can occasionally escalate into   a war of words. At  worst, it can lead to  knock-  down, drag-out fisticuffs.   Preventing any and all conflict is impos-  sible. But minimizing and mitigating it is  derstanding among board members as to the   essential in order for a board to do its job.  regulation and operation of the association  genuinely committed to either supporting or  sip is circulating at breakneck speed.”  Board members should actively anticipate  and the function of the board, which can be  opposing matters that come to them based on   arguments among their ranks, and have a  due to the inexperience of some of the direc-  strategy on hand to ease tensions and reach an  tors,” explains Elizabeth A. Bowen,  a share-  acceptable compromise before things get out  holder with Florida-based law firm Siegfried,  adds attorney Michael E. Fleiss, a partner at  decisions,” adds Edie Davis, Senior Property   of hand.  Talk It Out  One way to keep things copacetic among  company with the ability to effectively com-  board members is to identify which attributes  municate with a board regarding the needs of  when it comes to the building and building-  most contribute to a board’s functionality, and  the association is important.   reach for those as a baseline when things start   to drift apart.  “I think that the key to harmony on a board  aspirations of control and world domination  members who find themselves outside the   ment in Aurora, Illinois. “Any one group of  into what should be a ‘team.’ It is important   vitally important that board members listen  istration and governance of the association  an odd number of members on a board so   respectfully to each other and understand that  pursuant to their best business judgment.  that when a vote needs to be taken, the board   Communication – and the ability to calm-  ly articulate why one board member may dis-  agree with one or other persons – is critical.  attempting to move through its difficulties to  pen, sometimes the losing side of a vote will   “Some disputes are caused by a lack of un-  Rivera, Hyman, Lerner, De La Torre, Mars &  Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas, LLP,  Manager with Maine Properties in Scarbor-  Sobel, P.A. “To this end, a good management  a law firm in New York City. “Also, the mem-  “Truth be told,” Bowen continues, “some  ing that maintenance or common charges  ownership unrelated to board dealings, and   board members assume their position with  must never be increased, or that the lobby   the most difficult personalities to incorporate  guide it to a reasonable solution.  come with personal agendas. Many times, as-  sociation general counsel can act as an experi-  enced ‘voice of reason’ and assist the board in  ford, New York. “But, while it shouldn’t hap-  keep the corporation moving forward.”  “In a  harmonious board,  members  are  community at large, and, all of a sudden, gos-  whether or not those matters are in the best  big picture due to their perception of certain   interests of the building and its residents,”  people, and will be unable to make rational   bers are free of hardline or absolutist positions  reaches a stalemate, I have had mediators   related issues. For example, instead of insist-  must be renovated before any other project is   undertaken, they are willing to adjust if neces-  sary to best address the conditions and situa-  tions with which they are presented. This does   not necessarily mean abandoning wholesale   the positions they espoused when running for   the board, or their deeply-held views about   how best to manage the building. But it does   mean being open to consider a variety of pos-  sible options.  “Finally,” Fleiss continues, “effective board   members respect the views of experts regard-  ing matters within those experts’ fields. Few   board members – even long-serving ones –   can master all of the details of the many sub-  jects with which they must deal. That’s why   boards retain architects, accountants, lawyers   and managing agents, and why successful   boards have different members with con-  struction, financial and legal backgrounds.   Harmonious boards give appropriate weight   to the expert opinions of their members and   of the professionals they hire.”  Fighting Toward Consensus  While some minor conflict can be allowed   to simply blow over, some intra-board squab-  bles are not likely to fix themselves without   some kind of intervention. In these instances,   conflict,  or  even  third  parties,  may  need  to   It’s important to handle matters internally   the broader association. “Generally, there are   a tied vote, notes Robin B. Steiner, President   of RMR Residential Realty, LLC, in Elms-  express their disdain for the decision to the   “Occasionally, board members can’t see the   ough, Maine. “In the rare occasion that a vote   come in to resolve conflicts.”  Sometimes, factions develop among the   Managing Board Conflict  How to Maintain Harmony   BY MIKE ODENTHAL  BOARD RELATIONSHIPS  continued on page 21  ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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