Many condo owners want to get involved in their community but they soon find out that being on the board is no picnic. Soon neighbors are pestering them asking for feuds to be settled, decisions that affect all resident’s lives have to be made, and then there are the books...financial matters that have to be addressed with little or no room for error. Knowing all of this, why do so many people decide to serve on a board—some for years at a time? Responsibilities, stress and pressure may build but believe it or not, there are benefits to being on a board.
Get Blamed for Everything
Being a board member is tough. There are little thanks. If anything isn't going the way someone thinks it should, it's easy to just blame the people who are perceived to be in charge, even if that isn't really the case.
"Residents are always complaining to you," says Michelle Harvath, a board member at the Atrium Condominiums in Chicago, "Most residents believe that the board is all powerful and if anything goes wrong, the board is to blame. If there is a carpet stain that's not cleaned in a timely manner, I'll get phone calls and e-mails complaining about it.”
In fact, many residents forget that the people who are on the board are subject to all of the same decisions that are made on behalf of the building, continues Harvath. “They blame the board for raising maintenance fees but they forget that the same people on the board will be paying the same fees. When we raise maintenance fees for residents, we're also raising our own fees. Don't they realize that we don't want to pay more? We try our best to run the building as efficiently as possible. I can't afford a maintenance increase but sometimes you have no choice.”
“Sometimes I don't feel appreciated,” laments Jonathan Sinclair, board director/president at Versailles Condominiums in Chicago. “We work so hard but as Abe Lincoln said, 'You can't please all the people all the time.' At meetings people yell, but if we didn't do the job, the building would be rudderless.”