The New York Post recently reported a news story wherein a condominium property manager “decorated” the common areas of the building with Nazi and other historic propaganda relating to dictators. Residents of the building felt threatened and intimidated by other activities of the property manager, including alleged physical threats. This story is an exaggerated version of many tales told by clients of this firm . In this post, we will discuss suggestions for managing abusive employees of cooperative and condominium buildings as well as hostile environments created by certain board members.
The cooperative or condominium building is legally responsible for the acts of its employees. The exception to this rule is criminal activity, with which the perpetrator bears responsibility. If an employee is abusive to unit owners or denying services to particular shareholders, the board has an obligation to discipline or remove the offending employee. Boards should consult with a qualified attorney in the event that the employee is a union member in order to strategically handle the employment situation, so that the building is not subject to a grievance filed with the union.
If the board is not responsive to shareholder complaints, it may be appropriate to seek an election to replace current board members with those more in keeping with unit owner sentiment. First, one should request that an experienced attorney review the governing documents to determine how to legally hold a special or general election to replace the board. Then, all procedures outlined in the governing documents should be followed so that the election is not subject to being overturned. Hopefully, this will result in a new board being installed that will manage the offending situation by suitable means.
Should efforts to replace the board be ineffective, a unit owner can proceed to sell the apartment. While the “decorations” in the building discussed in the article do not exactly scream “curb appeal”, most buyers will not be aware of dysfunctional boards and difficult employees. That way, the offended shareholder will most likely be able to leave the building.
Our attorneys are prepared to assist our readers in navigating dysfunctional boards and troublesome employees that they engage.