Condo Media - January 2021 - 34

Helpful Advice Management

Professional
Managers and
Volunteer Boards
Same Goal, Different Roles
[by Ellen A. Shapiro, Esq., EBP]

Thinking about the relationship
between professional property managers and volunteer governing boards,
what comes to mind is " yin " and
" yang. " In other words - and without
getting into a deeply philosophic
discussion - managers and boards are
opposing, yet interdependent aspects
of an association that work together
to provide a harmonious environment
for the owners and occupants. As
sang in the song " Love and Marriage, "
" You can't have one without the other. "
And yet, like all relationships, this one
is complicated. It is not only necessary
that each party understand where their
respective roles begin and end without
running the risk of seriously ruining
their collaboration, but that the owners and occupants must understand
this too.

34

CONDOMEDIA January 2021

BOARD RESPONSIBILITY
AND AUTHORITY
The board is the governing body of
the condominium and is elected by the
unit owners. Boards are frequently compared with the governing bodies of small
towns, much in the same way that condominiums themselves are frequently
referred to as " mini-municipalities. "
The primary source of a board's power
and authority is found in the governing
documents of the association. Owners
are often surprised to learn that state
laws do not specify and limit all the
powers that the board has and can
exercise. Although condominiums
themselves cannot exist without state
laws that allow for this unique form
of property ownership, these laws -
while permitting condominiums to
be established - generally leave it to

the developer when drafting the documents to establish the board's power.
All these powers can be reduced or expanded by the unit owners through the
amendment process. They are also not
addressed by state legislatures, which
generally recognize that condominiums
are private property and thus leave it to
the owners to self-govern.
Boards are responsible for wide
range of activities. By way of example,
these include establishing budgets,
assessing common fees, adopting
and enforcing rules, maintaining the
common areas, and selecting vendors.
Boards frequently act as arbitrators
when there is a dispute between unit
owners involving the common area.
They conduct " due process " hearings
when confronted with the actions of
" wrong-doors, " i.e., people who do not
obey the rules and regulations or the
condominium documents. In short,
boards take all actions reasonably
necessary to ensure that the lives of
the condominium owners are running
smoothly (at least as to their ownership
interest in the condominium). Clearly
this is an enormous responsibility, particularly for people who do not receive
any compensation for their services
and frequently have full-time jobs and
family obligations as well.
Among the powers that governing
boards have is the power to hire professionals, such as lawyers, accountants,
and engineers. But of all the professionals boards are empowered to hire, none
are more important than the property
manager and the property management
company. In the eyes of many owners,
there is a blurring of lines between the
obligations of the board and the responsibilities of the property manager.
Actually, the title of property manager
is almost inaccurate as it is the board
that manages the property. In fact,
many documents contain the language
that says that the board manages the
property " as though they were the sole
owners thereof. " Notwithstanding this
broad grant of power, there are certain
responsibilities such as establishing the
budget, promulgating rules, granting
of easements, and approving altera-



Condo Media - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - January 2021

Contents
Condo Media - January 2021 - Cover1
Condo Media - January 2021 - Cover2
Condo Media - January 2021 - Contents
Condo Media - January 2021 - 2
Condo Media - January 2021 - 3
Condo Media - January 2021 - 4
Condo Media - January 2021 - 5
Condo Media - January 2021 - 6
Condo Media - January 2021 - 7
Condo Media - January 2021 - 8
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Condo Media - January 2021 - Cover3
Condo Media - January 2021 - Cover4
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