Interior repairs in cooperative or condominium apartments aren’t as cut and dry as in a rental property. Unlike a rental, where most repairs would fall onto the landlord, there is a clear delineation of responsibilities for a shareholder / unit owner and the building.
Property Managers often get asked by residents: “I’m only painting my apartment – why do I need to get Board or Management approval”? The answers lies with liability and insurance coverage. We’re not so concerned with the muted shades of gray that you intend to roll on the walls as we are with ensuring that the contractor you’re bringing into the building is properly licensed and insured.
In most Bylaws or Proprietary Leases that you’ll encounter, there is a provision that alterations cannot be undertaken without the consent of the Board or the Lessor. In the painting case above, we want to make sure that your painting company has general liability, auto and umbrella coverage. In addition, if they have a staff that will be working on the project, they have to provide proof of Workman’s Comp protection also. Typically, these policies name both the Cooperative / Condominium and the Managing Agent as additionally insured, just in case something should happen while they are on site (that could be damage to the unit in question, common areas, neighboring apartments or to any individual; an employee or not).
In this case, if an apartment is being painted and it is pre-1978, we can assume that this is an apartment that has lead paint on the walls and as such, an EPA Lead Safe Certified contractor will need to provide proof that they have the certification and will need to follow the guidelines set forth in the framework of those procedures.
Not all alterations are limited in scope to painting. Electrical, plumbing and structural work all need approval from the appropriate parties in your building and once these topics are broached, more information (permits, licenses, sealed drawings, architect review and more) will be required before a formal approval is given. The larger in scope, the more detailed the plans will be needed.
At the end of the day, the work that you do in your apartment, so long as it is represented and filed properly, is the business of the resident, but the property manager has the entire building in its sights to ensure that those who are entering to do the work, and the work itself, will not harm either the occupants or the structural integrity of the building as a whole.
Have you run into this scenario before; a Board member resigns during their term and the Board of Directors (or Managers), collectively, appoints a replacement to the position that was just vacated? It should be smooth sailing and without issue, but if this is a cooperative or condominium with an opinionated ownership base, they’ll want to know why the new Board member wasn’t appointed by the shareholders or owners, as a whole.
While it would seem that putting it out to all shareholders or unit owners would be a great idea, it’s not often done, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it is difficult to get all shareholders and owners to another meeting that is not the Annual Meeting and it is much quicker to appoint someone who is interested in serving on the Board for the remainder of this term. In some cases, there may be a committee member who has been serving on the periphery of the Board and this is a great opportunity to increase their level of participation, if it has been shown that they have something to offer, beyond just filling an open seat.
The reason that the Board will have the final say of who to appoint, in most cases, is provided for in the Bylaws of the building. For instance, below is a partial section of the Bylaws from a NYC cooperative, as it pertains to Vacancies:
When any vacancy exists or occurs among the directors by death, resignation or otherwise, the same shall be filled for the remainder of the term by a majority of votes cast at a special meeting of the remaining directors duly called for the purpose or at any regular meeting of the directors, even though a quorum shall not be present at such special or regular meeting.
As you can see in the above paragraph, the Board has complete control over who they appoint to fill the remainder of the term that was vacated. This could be a period of only a few months or it could be a multi-year term that the new appointment will fulfill.
Just because an appointment was made to the Board does not mean that the shareholders or unit owners are completely without hope if they absolutely disagree with the new appointment. If for any reason they are completely unhappy with this appointment, or the Board in general, the could also look to their bylaws to remove either one or more persons from the Board. They would have to follow the passage in the Bylaws that pertains to removal. From the same NYC cooperative bylaws on Removal:
Any director may be removed from office at any time with or without cause and at the pleasure of the shareholders, upon affirmative vote of the shareholders of record taken at a shareholders’ meeting duly called for that purpose; provided, however, that the directors elected by the holders of Unsold Shares can be removed without cause by such holders of Unsold Shares who alone will have the right to designate a replacement.