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Life in a co-op building might be a tad easier if you or your significant other has a chance to sit on the board of directors. My husband has been the secretary of our board since 2010. He originally expressed an interest in joining so he could convince the other members to add more basement storage units in hopes that we would be able to lease one for our overflow of personal belongings. (Downsizing from 2800 square feet to 825 is never easy, but that’s another blog post.)
After he had added the subject of “storage” to monthly meeting agendas for four years, finally, the board agreed to construct more units, and we were granted a locker in our basement a few months ago. Board members decide on issues like this as well as critical matters such as building structure, general rules, and finances. Whether you’re a natural decision maker and think that becoming a board member is for you, or you have an ulterior motive like my husband, know that the title isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Although there’s a host of advantages, being a co-op board member is probably more involved than you think.
Here are a few things to consider before you add the title of “board member” to your resume.
Sitting on your apartment building’s co-op board is tougher than you think.
– Image via Flickr by Juliana Swenson
You’ll have to devote personal time…
Regular meetings could interfere with your daily work and life schedule. You might have to leave your job early, eat dinner later, skip a workout session, and even lose an hour or so of sleep, depending on the day and time of the meeting. Meetings usually take place monthly and during the week, but now and then, an emergency could warrant a last minute conference, and you are expected to drop everything and attend. Beyond meetings, emails run rampant, and paperwork requires time to review. The time you’ll spend as a board member is almost equivalent to a part-time job.
You’ll be the man (or woman) who knows too much…
Strangers’ and neighbors’ finances will be laid out in front of you. Not only will you get a glimpse of salary information, but also stocks, bonds, savings, and 401K will be within eyesight. You might be uncomfortable knowing such personal stats about your new neighbor before he moves in. Of course, you’ll be expected to keep this info to yourself, so no blabbing to family or friends.
You’ll also know anything and everything that goes on in your building. A scuffle between Mrs. Jones in 3C and Mrs. Reilly in 3A; Mr. Sands in 12D who hasn’t paid his maintenance bill in six months; and that problem dog on the sixth floor who won’t stop barking. You’ll know about all of it and be involved in a resolution.
You may be forced to make decisions you don’t want to make…
Major issues like installing a new elevator, renovating a lobby, hiring or firing doorman and building staff, are some of the decisions you’ll make as a board member. Capital improvement projects may result in maintenance increases or assessments (extra charges until the project is paid for.) Other shareholders might give you the evil eye in the elevator, knowing you’re partially responsible for tightening their purse strings. As a result, you might become unpopular or even disliked.
You’ll have to handle conflict…
Being a board member can be stressful. With a group of passionate New Yorkers striving for the same cause (to create the best living environment while protecting their investment) disagreements between board members are the norm. Be prepared for yelling and screaming and temper tantrums; you’ll need thick skin, and be able to take all of the board meeting drama with a grain of salt.
If only co-op board meetings in New York City were this easy. – Image via Flickr by tiarescott