A managing agent is a person (or company) hired by a co-op or condominium board to oversee the management of their property and keep it functional. They represent the interest of the board, which is ultimately made up of residents of the building – Co-op shareholders and condo owners. The word managing agent is often used interchangeably with the property manager.
Managing agents may also act as the middlemen between the board and residents, with most complaints and requests made directly to them. They may or may not have the decision-making power to grant all requests or resolve all complaints and may have to reach the board for certain items.
Importance of A Managing Agent
In both co-ops and condominiums, boards hold a lot of power over how the building should be run (much more for co-ops than condominiums). But since the members of the board have their own jobs, businesses, or other engagements, they are not available for actual property management. That’s why the managing agents are so important. However, many small-sized co-ops prefer the “self-management” route, mostly to minimize expenses.
They ensure that the utility bills are paid, maintenance fees are collected, and the building staff like the building superintendent and doorman are paid (among other things).
A managing agent’s job includes(but is not limited to):
Building Maintenance: Almost all building maintenance responsibilities, including routine maintenance like cleaning and minor repairs to major alterations and renovations that can cost the building thousands of dollars, are a managing agent’s responsibility. Sometimes they have complete control over who to hire as a regular super and which contractor to select for building repairs. But in some cases, board approval is required.
Finances: Collecting both regular maintenance fees and the portions from each shareholder for major repairs/renovations. In addition, those funds are used for various needs of the building/residents.
Regulatory Compliance: Making sure the building as a whole and each owner or resident stays compliant to NYC’s building codes and guidelines. They help prevent violations like improper AC unit installation, renovations without the right permits (and board approval), and commercial use of residential properties. They also ensure that the building has all the necessary and updated permits and file the relevant reports with DOB (like boiler inspection).
Insurance: The managing agent pays for and maintains building insurance. Good agents are always on the lookout for better/more competitive insurance policies for buildings in order to keep overall costs low.
Complaints, Requests, And Recordkeeping: If building residents wish to decorate the common areas, they usually file a request with the managing agent. Residents register their complaints about building services and other residents (for code violations, nuisance, etc.) with the agents. And they are also expected to keep a detailed record of all these complaints, requests, and building finances.
When Do You Need A Managing Agent?
As a resident or owner, you may need your building’s managing agent when:
- You need something done that the super is not capable or authorized to do but is still the building’s responsibility
- You want to appeal, inform, or complain to the co-op or condominium board (and you can’t do it directly)
- You are doing something that will impact common areas or other unitholders in the building
As a co-op/condo board member or building owner, you need a managing agent to take care of the building, ensure it’s well maintained, and make sure the residents are satisfied.
Tips On How Co-op/Condo Boards Should Deal With A Managing Agent
A few tips on dealing with managing agents are:
- Ensure transparency from the beginning. Both you and the agent should be clear on the scope of their responsibilities.
- Frequently meet with the managing agent and monitor their performance. Their knowledge of building issues (and their resolution), record keeping, and financial details of collections and expenses can give you a good idea of how “on top of things” they are.
- Don’t give too much decision-power away (at least from the beginning) and stay involved to see how they operate and which vendors they choose for different tasks.
- For a healthy relationship with your managing agent, maintain healthy expectations and don’t expect them to work miracles with limited maintenance income.
Hiring the right managing agent can minimize the time and effort you spend “dealing” with them, making sure that they are doing their job right, and that the building is well-maintained, well-run and that the residents are happy.