Most apartment building residents know that there is a board protecting the interests of the individual owners and the building. Board members are volunteers who live in the building and want to make sure their investment is protected. The board has many responsibilities and needs to deal with changes in the economic environment, the composition of owners and in the physical and financial status of the building.
It is important to remember that a board member’s job is to determine what is best for the building and not for an individual owner. The board represents everyone and sometimes it is difficult to act dispassionately when making decisions based upon your home.
Boards are set up with an odd number of directors and usually have four officers- the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The president has the most responsibilities, which include scheduling the board meetings, preparing the agenda and leading the deliberations. Typically, the president’s most important duty is to oversee and run the meetings. Some other responsibilities include supervising the building staff, overseeing the Board’s actions, approving expenses, community outreach and effectively managing the building. If the president cannot attend a meeting, it is the vice president’s job to step in and run the meeting.
The treasurer is the chief financial officer for the building and usually performs duties relating to any monetary issues affecting the building community. These duties include implementing the financial policies, paying the bills, collecting debts, keeping the books and reporting on the financial affairs at each meeting.
The secretary keeps the minutes of the meetings, maintain records, inform the owners of meetings and agendas, signs stock certificates, proprietary leases and banking documents. The role of secretary is time consuming but it is one of the most important positions on the board.
The directors are people on the board who do not hold a formal position. Each director is responsible for a different role and normally assigned a role based upon the director’s strengths.
Rights & Responsibilities
New board members receive six months of minutes in order to be aware of the issues in the building and what the current board is working on. It is important that the property management agent helps them through the process. Most new members start as a director in order to learn, watch and absorb all the new information because many do not realize how much time, energy and responsibility go into being an active board member.
Every vote on the board holds equal weight. It is designed this way so one person does not have more control than another person. The majority of the vote wins and it is not the president making all the decisions.
Board meetings can bring up private and sensitive matters regarding other tenants, money and building issues. Therefore, board members need to exercise discretion because some things discussed are confidential.
There will be votes on issues that might not be popular with the residents but the board needs to do what is best for the greater good of the building. For example, the board might have to raise maintenance fees to properly run the building even if most people do not want to pay more money.
The managing agent is normally in charge of hiring contractors or other professionals. However, if a Board wants to speak to a vendor, they can. The managing agents work for the board and will give them any governing document they request.
A great Board will work well together and will work for the greater good of the building.