I deal with a number of coop apartment owners, boards, managing agents and one of the major causes of conflict is a lack of cooperation, communication and a feeling of being powerless by the owners of cooperative apartments.
I have encountered coop boards who give the impression they are reside in an “ivory tower”, are untouchable, whose actions are not to be questioned. This paired with the failure of the board to listen to their constituents, understandably results in frustration, tension, conflict and ultimately lawsuits.
Alternatively, some apartment owners maintain an underlying agenda to instigate conflict with board members and other apartment owners. Commonly the apartment owner who likes to go to “war” is a long time apartment owner or board member who wishes it was like the old days. This is especially prevalent where there is a drastic change in board membership or the composite of apartment ownership in the building. Old timers got used to a sense of power when serving on the board or where the former board members were weak. A new sheriff is in town where recently elected board members are in control of their responsibilities and surroundings.
In both of the above situations, it is the perceived lack of control and power that are fostered by a lack of communication between the parties. Can’t we all just get along???
I came across the attached article which mentioned a free (yes free) mediation service between apartment owners or apartment owners and coop board members. I think the concept is great. I have counciled and mediated parties who are in conflict and the fact I am the attorney representing one of the parties has sometimes been a hinderance to the process (regardless of the existence of impartiality). The use of an unattached experienced mediator will greatly assist in communication and dispute resolution. The increase in communication would lead to less conflict, avoided lawsuits and reduced legal fees. Did I mention they are free?
I would encourage angry owners and board members alike to take advantage of this service.
I would interested in hearing from anyone who has used the Safe Horizon Mediation Service in the past and how it has helped (or hurt) their particular conflict.
See the below link I found for more information located on the Brick Underground website.
Visit: www.lavenderlawblog.com for more information.