No one likes to feel left out or ignored. Sometimes that is how condo residents may feel if they believe their board or managers are not responding to their requests for information or sharing enough up front. What they may not realize, however, is that there can be important reasons for discretion on the part of board members, trustees and managers. Keeping the lines of communication open and clear can help eliminate those misunderstandings and help establish a healthy level of trust between everyone involved.
When Questions Come
Significant lengths of time between a resident making an inquiry and a board or manager responding to that initial inquiry can cause friction before the main matter of the inquiry is ever even addressed. That resident may feel that the request has not been received or worse yet, has been ignored as insignificant. Before long, that individual can start sharing his or her frustrations with neighbors and friends, leading to an unintentional and perhaps undeserved reputation for board and manager of unresponsiveness.
Sometimes the delay is simply a reflection of the type of question involved. “Most questions can be answered quickly, but when it involves specific language or a ruling from the board, then the manager would have to get back to them,” says John Thiboutot, vice president of The Niles Co., Inc, a management firm in Boston. “If it’s a general billing question, those can be answered relatively quickly.”
Still, no matter how much time may need to be invested to properly answer the question in full, it is important to issue some sort of response as soon as possible. “Managers are not always in the office; sometimes they can answer phone calls on the road, but depending on what they’re doing, they cannot. Specifically to our company, managers try to answer within 24 hours,” says Thiboutot, “If it’s something an assistant manager can answer then they can, but if they’re specifically looking for the manager that’s a factor. Depending on the question they may need to seek board or legal counsel.”
Bram Fierstein, president and co-founder of a New York-based management company, agrees. “Questions should be responded to as quickly as possible. It is best to acknowledge a question via email or telephone to inform the resident that the matter is being considered and you will get back to them with an answer.”