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See Our Display Ad on Page 11  Solving your problems   today & strengthening your   association for tomorrow.  6 Lyberty Way, Suite 201  Westford, MA 01886  (978)496-2000  See Our Display Ad on Back Cover  We  cite  them  in  newsletters,  post  them  on  confl ict between neighbors or management,   our website, and maintain them at the front  it would seem worthwhile.  desk for anyone who complains about need-  ing a repair. Our bylaws are very clear about  ability – i.e., safety – are concerned, a resident   responsibility, and as such we direct \[rental  should not hesitate to take up an issue with   residents\] back to their ‘landlord,’ a.k.a., the  the board. Avoiding confl ict is never worth   owner of their apartment. When we send a  putting the health of tenants at risk.             letter to a resident, we attach the appropriate   excerpt from the bylaws – chapter and verse –   that backs up whatever we have decided with-  in that letter. All employees are trained in the   appropriate responses, and  we’re  extremely   diligent with our messaging.”  And of course, shareholders have the   ability to make some changes if the board is   truly dropping the ball in regard to its duties.   “When we counsel tenant-shareholders who   view themselves as being in a straight ‘rental’   situation \[with their board\], we advise that   they are actually in control,” says McConnell.   “Th  at with their voting power at annual meet-  ings, they can throw out a board that is not   performing as is required, and elect a new one   that listens to the tenant-shareholders – rather   than acting as an absentee landlord might.”  The Nitty Gritty  While most repairs in a rental apartment   are handled by the landlord at no additional   expense to the tenant, maintenance in a co-op   comes out of residents’ monthly fees. As such,   there’s a greater individual investment in what   gets addressed and when. Th  ere are also re-  pairs within apartments that fall to a co-op   shareholder, which in a rental situation might   be the purview of the landlord.  “An area of dispute I encounter with co-  ops stems from how the responsibilities   under their proprietary leases are diff erent   than those between tenants and landlords,”   says Mitchell S. Zingman, Principal Member   of law fi rm Zingman & Associates in New   York City. “Co-op residents are completely   responsible for the appliances in their unit,   for example, whereas they would not be in a   rental. I’ve had shareholders who don’t know   why their stoves aren’t working, and look to   hold the board responsible. But that’s actu-  ally on the shareholder. Really, anything that   protrudes into the apartment is the domain of   the shareholder. If a faucet is not working, or   if a lead pan goes bad in a shower, well hey...   that’s the shareholder’s problem. It is what it is,   but shareholders sometimes have a hard time   grasping that.  “In regard to repairs that do not fall on the   tenant to arrange, I fi nd that they’re usually   handled by the managing agent,” he contin-  ues. “Th  ese things really aren’t coming to the   board, unless the tenant reaches the conclu-  sion that the managing agent is acting incom-  petently and, as such, sidesteps them – or goes   as far as to ask the board to replace that agent.”  An underlying theme here is that many of   these misunderstandings regarding tenant/  board/management responsibilities can be   avoided before they happen, should all parties   involved familiarize themselves with the laws   and governing documents under which their   association operates. Surely this can seem   like a signifi cant to-do, but if an aft ernoon of   studying up can help mitigate a drawn-out   Of course, where issues of actual habit-  n  Mike Odenthal is a staff  writer/reporter with   New England Condominium.   MANAGER, OR...  continued from page 6  cally provide guidance in our state.   “Th  e New Jersey Condominium Act also   contains an administrative code that pro-  vides a minimum for notice to the residents   of a meeting. Also, the association’s bylaws   will provide for specifi c requirements for   notice, quorum, and procedure. Typically,   the announcement will provide for the time,   place and agenda of the meeting. Failure to   do so may void board actions and/or in-  crease the association’s exposure to litigation.  “To maximize effi  ciency, I would recom-  mend ensuring that each meeting has a set   agenda that is strictly followed. Th  e agenda   should be conveyed to all board members   in advance, so that each board member can   review and prepare for the meeting. Prior to   an open session, the board should meet in a   closed session to review the agenda and go   over certain issues that are not appropriate for   an open session. Th  ese typically include any   collection matters, privacy matters—such as   disability accommodation requests—as well   as pending and/or anticipated litigation.   “Also, it is important to know that a board   meeting is for the board to conduct offi  cial   business. If a board chooses, it can set aside   a portion of a meeting for residents to voice   their concerns, which should be timed to al-  low each resident an equal—but limited—  opportunity  to raise  issues.  If a  resident   feels as though their board is not conduct-  ing meetings properly, they should attend a   meeting and voice those concerns. It is im-  portant to remember that a board is com-  posed of volunteer owners who rely on their   professionals to guide them. Oft en, a lack   of perceived interest from residents causes   boards to relax their meeting structures.”  In Closing...  While there is some clear variance from   state to state, some common themes emerge   from how boards should conduct meetings:   objective; advance notice; effi  cient and struc-  tured participation of owners and sharehold-  ers; and a delineated agenda. A board who   follows this basic rubric is likely to preside   over an eff ective association.    n  Mike Odenthal is a staff  writer/reporter for   New England Condominium.  CONDUCTING...  continued from page 15  See Our Display Ad on Page 5

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