Create a Happy and Balanced Community: Define Your Residents’ Rights and Responsibilities

Posted on Tuesday March 28, 2017 |



New York City condos and coops are known to be home to diverse populations with a variety of personalities. Because residents have different levels of experience and involvement living in a multi-family property, they may also have vastly different views of their roles in such an environment. Community leaders– whether the Board or the managing agent on behalf of the Board – should take a proactive approach in helping unit owners, shareholders and all residents understand their roles and responsibilities in the condo or coop. This promotes clarity within the community and ultimately achieves a level of cohesion supporting harmonious living. 
 
“Setting realistic expectations within the community is important,” says Steven Hirsch, executive managing director at FirstService Residential. . “This means giving your residents the opportunity to understand their rights, and empowering them to fulfill their responsibilities.” 
 
To help you get started, here is a list of nine important rights and nine important responsibilities that both owners and non-owners should keep in mind. 
 
Residents have the right to...
 
1. Quality and effective management of a condo and coop association. That means it’s both responsive to residents’ needs and capable of addressing them.
 
2. Transparency. This means that both the Board and their property management company (if their community is professionally managed) should always act with fairness and honesty, and with the best interests of the community in mind.
 
3. Financial stewardship. Operating funds and assessments should be spent wisely and based on a realistic budget. 
 
4. Excellence in living standards. A property should be maintained according to its guidelines in order to enhance property values and the quality of life of residents.
 
5. All governing documents. Owners and residents should have the complete documentation of a building’s bylaws, proprietary lease, and house rules which govern their property before their purchase is complete, or at least upon move in. 
 
6. Access documentation. A property’s books and records should be available to owners in accordance with the building’s governing documents.  
 
7. Equal participation. This includes being able to take part in meetings, whether by invitation or at public special meetings, as well as certain committees of the board, and elections when applicable. 
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8. A reasonable due process. This is especially important when it comes to discussing procedures such as foreclosures, arrears collections, or other legal processes. Residents should be able to discuss payment plans and options before proceedings begin.
 
9. Hearings and appeals. A process should be in place that provides for the hearing and appeal of decisions made by the Board that affect non-routine financial responsibilities or property rights.
 
Residents have a responsibility to...
 
1.Understand their roles and ensure compliance. All governing documents of a property provided to owners and residents should be reviewed and understood in order to ensure compliance. 
 
2. Consistently maintain their home. Owners and residents should take ownership of home maintenance, and proactively understand the community standards, and adhere to them. 
 
3. Be respectful to all community members. All residents must practice neighborly conduct. This is essential in maintaining a high quality of living, and ensuring harmony in the community. 
 
4. Actively participate in community matters. As each and every owner and resident has an investment to protect, actively engaging with the community is a great way to ensure that all perspectives are heard. Submitting one’s vote in community elections is equally important. 
 
5. Make timely payments. This enables a healthy cash flow for the community.
 
6. Effectively and respectfully communicate. If and when difficulties arise relating to difficulty paying assessments or meeting other obligations, it is important for owners and residents to reach out to their Board or property manager in a timely fashion to ensure resolution of their issues.  
 
7. Request reconsideration.  Sometimes personal situations change. Owners and residents must be proactive in making their concerns and situations known, so that requests for reconsideration regarding material decisions can be received and properly reviewed. 
 
8. Ensure compliance. This includes everyone who lives at the property, such as residents, relatives and friends. Compliance is necessary to promote and maintain a healthy balance in community living, and sets a standard by which the property operates. This ultimately results in maintaining or enhancing property value. 
 
9. Provide accurate and up to date contact information. This ensures that the Board lor property manager can contact them whenever necessary – whether it is during an emergency situation or as it relates to financial obligations.  
 
When it comes to community living, a little bit of knowledge can pay off in a big way. When residents are fully informed about their rights and responsibilities, and what they can expect from their Boards and managing agents – including what they’re expected to provide – it can go a long way towards creating a home environment that is friendly, efficient, serene and yes, happy!

For more information on residents’ rights and responsibilities and creating happy condo and coop communities, contact FirstService Residential or fill out the form below.

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