D.Z. from Bergen county, New Jersey writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our Condo Board hired a new Management Company that is now telling the owners that:
1. We cannot have any work done in our owned apartments unless all workers or companies are vetted and acceptable to them. It does not matter that we have met with contractors and provided the scope of the work and submitted proper insurance required. We are not able to negotiate a price that works for us.
2. We cannot make donations to be picked up by Veterans or any other organization. We are not allowed to leave items in first vestibule for a.m. pickup. The management company says these organizations must change their pick-up rules for our building. WE have been doing this for years.
3. Some owners are seniors and we have worked with Bergen Volunteers for years to help with minor jobs in our apartments. They might include hanging pictures, minor painting, changing shower heads, delivering groceries. None of these activities will disturb any other residents or cause damage to building.
4. Whatever happened to the fact that this our home and we have a right to hire our work in our apartments as long as we provide documentation or permits if walls are affected? We can only use their authorized plumbers and electricians. This can be a good thing, but we also have budgets for our jobs and perhaps their companies may be the highest price.
5. I need clarifications of our rights.
Mister Condo replies:
D.Z., I can see where rules forced upon you is an unpleasant situation but I have to ask you why the Board isn’t telling the management company to leave well enough alone? If the Board doesn’t agree with these policies, all the Board needs to do is tell the management company how to behave. You, as a homeowner, have very little to say in this matter. If the rules are in place and the management company is simply enforcing the rules at the instruction of the Board, then the management company is doing exactly what it was hired to do. Furthermore, if the management company doesn’t enforce the rules of the association, it is derelict in its duty. You really need to review the rules of your association as outlined in your governing documents. You also need to bring your concerns to the Board of Directors as they are the only one who can rein in the management company if they want to. Many associations have strict requirements regarding contractors that are allowed to work on property, even under private hire. That is because the association is at risk if any uninsured or unlicensed work is being performed that could result in liability for the association. Simply providing a certificate of insurance often is not enough for the association to approve a contractor. Condominiums are not apartments. They are units within a corporation and the corporation is governed by the governing documents and the Board of Directors, Trustees, Regents or whatever other title they are known by. They are the democratically elected representatives of the association and they are charged with running the association. If you don’t like the job they are doing, you can always vote them out of office at the next election cycle. All the best!