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Should New York condo and co-op board members be paid?


Residential real estate generates a lot of legal disputes in New York. Sales and purchases of real estate can create conflicts, of course, but so too can the management of everyday affairs of landlord-tenant and neighborly relations.

Condominium and co-operative housing account for a significant segment of New York's residential real estate market. These buildings are typically managed by boards made up of residents who serve as volunteers. Boards are generally responsible for managing the finances, maintaining the common areas, contracting with outside vendors and handling day-to-day operations. It can be a thankless and frustrating job, especially when board members are called upon to deal with residents' complaints and disputes.

In recent years, some have asked whether condo and co-op board members in New York should be paid for their services. As associations find it increasingly hard to find volunteers for these positions, the idea of compensating board members may have some merit. One Manhattan co-op in Midtown East was paying its board members $515 per month as of a few years ago.

Not everyone likes the idea. Some argue that board members should only serve out of a desire to build a better community for themselves and their neighbors. They say that paying board members would create the wrong incentive for people to serve. On the other hand, if the existing incentives are not enough to recruit candidates, compensation may be the only alternative. There would seem to be a better argument for compensation in a larger building with a lot of units, where the board's responsibilities are correspondingly greater.

There are no federal, state or local laws that prohibit compensation of board members. However, condo or co-op residents who are considering compensation for board members should check the association's or co-op's bylaws, which may prohibit compensation.

When disputes over residential management come up, it's important to have experienced legal help. Attorneys with experience in New York residential real estate can help tenants, landlords and others understand their rights.

Source: TheRealDeal.com, "Should condo and co-op board members receive compensation?" July 18, 2011

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