The key to any healthy relationship is good communication. That holds especially true for the sometimes-delicate dialogues that take place among residents, shareholders, board members, and managers in co-ops and condos of all sizes and configurations. From misunderstandings to simply feeling not heard, the gaps that arise in communication can end up causing challenges that can deepen into serious acrimony and dysfunction – but which are easily avoided with the proper plans and philosophies in place.
Make Yourself Heard
Co-op, condo and HOA managers agree: whenever there’s a problem, residents and shareholders should let them know right away. The first step in solving a situation is knowing that it’s happening and getting all the facts.
“Normally, whenever anyone in one of our buildings has a complaint or concern, we ask for it to be put in writing,” says Doug Weinstein, Vice President of Operations at Project Management Group, which has offices in New York City and Dania Beach, Florida. “This helps us with follow-up, because in the course of a day, managers are talking to a lot of people. Having it in writing is a tracking tool.”
Georgia Lombardo-Barton, President of the New York City-based firm Barton Management LLC, agrees. “I always encourage shareholders or unit owners to contact our office, preferably by email, with their building-related issues/questions/concerns,” she says. “I say email because it is a written record of a communication that can be referred to as a reminder and/or proof of contact. We recommend sending a text message if the matter is very urgent.”
Lombardo-Barton also encourages people to make sure they direct their concerns to the appropriate party and avoid bringing their building-related concerns to board members. “A resident should first contact their managing agent with their issues,” she says. “Not a board member, who is a volunteer, and whose position is not intended to handle day-to-day matters.”