As all co-op board members will tell you, serving on a building's board brings with it a responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the entire building. The responsibilities of a board member can be demanding and time-consuming. Board members, more often than not, end up giving a substantial amount of their personal time to the demands of the position. That being said there are some alluring reasons to become a co-op board member, such as protecting one’s investment firsthand. Here are some more insights into being a board member.
How Much Time is Devoted to Duties?
If you’re on the board of a self-managed building the demands of the position can be great. Any problems that arise in the building must be handled by the board. This means that 30 to 40 percent of your personal time will most likely be devoted to waiting for contractors, interviewing contractors, or meeting with the other board members.
Running a co-op building is a full-time job. Some board members even record devoting a minimum of 40 hours per week to their duties as a board member. The truth is the time devoted to duties is variable depending on how available you as a board member would like to be. The more available you are though the more you get out of the process. Board members are there because they enjoy the job and the process, even with the time demands.
It should be noted that hiring a property manager can greatly cut back on the time you devote to your duties. A property manager would take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to enjoy the position as a board member.
Ever board is unique, but there are three challenges that almost all boards face.
1. Financial Issues
This is a leading concern for any co-op board. Some boards have an in-house financial professional. While others have to look outside the co-op or condo for financial guidance. Controlling spending can be difficult, but having a treasurer on the board that has a background understanding of finances will help greatly.
2. Starting Committees and Keeping Residents Involved
The best way to combat this issue is to keep all board members involved and encourage other shareholders to start committees that can make small, effective changes. It is important to have a system that allows for collaboration between staff members, board members, and shareholders on all committees.
3. Dealing With Demanding Residents
It can be difficult when dealing with residents that want something that just isn’t within budget or the board's power, and they won't take no for an answer. A board needs to remember this demanding resident is their neighbor, and to keep the communication open and peaceful. It is hard but a board has to stay impartial and treat every shareholder the same. Even the more difficult ones.
Building relationships with fellow board members and residents are key to preventing any major issues. You can build a great relationship by:
- Having a newsletter
- Contact through regular emails
- Having a regularly updated website
- Knowing every resident and board member's name
- Introducing yourself to residents
Even building a relationship with boards members of another co-op can help prevent major issues down the road by mutually sharing feedback and advice.
Even though challenges and responsibilities are a part of every board, many board members feel it is a very rewarding position. They find the rewards may be intangible, but that doesn’t take away from the impact they have. On the other hand, some members find it too demanding and may only hold the position for one term. In the end, the most important fact is that every co-op and condo needs a helpful board that will protect everyone’s investment and keeps the building flourishing.