Being elected to the condo board inserts a divisive quality into one’s relationship with their neighbors. While still a unit owner, subject to the same rules, regulations and responsibilities, a board member has made a commitment to the larger community. So, when neighbors and friends fail to meet their obligations, flouting the rules or falling behind on condo fees, the board becomes involved. That can inject a dose of stress into any board member’s life.
Starting foreclosure proceedings against the next-door neighbor is perhaps the worst conflict a board member faces, because even while understanding the circumstances in that neighbor’s life, he or she is forced to act.
On a Tightrope
And when neighbors engage in a disputethat involves the board, divisions can reverberate throughout the community. Sometimes, board members feel they’re suspended on a tightrope stretched between condo buildings.
“When people live in the same building, and there’s conflict, it can ruin a friendship, especially if one is serving the dual role of board member and neighbor,” says Josh Hoch, directorof mediation and arbitration services for Mediation Works Inc., in Boston. His firm mediates about 70 condominium disputes a year – about 10 percent of its cases.