Ask an Expert

Can a building super serve on a co-op board?

By Alanna Schubach | August 29, 2022 - 1:30PM

Supers should attend board meetings to offer updates on building issues, but being a board member can be a conflict of interest.

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Question:

Our super has been on our co-op board for a long time, but when the board changed the bylaws to forbid this, our super resigned from his job in protest. We like him and want him to continue working here. What are the rules for supers serving on co-op boards? Do they have to own a unit in the building?

Answer:

As much as you like your super, allowing him to hold a position on the co-op board likely creates a conflict of interest for your building, our experts say.

There are no official laws on the books that dictate whether supers can serve on co-op boards; this is typically outlined in a co-op's bylaws. And though you certainly want the super to attend co-op board meetings to share important updates about the state of the building, it is reasonable for the board to change the bylaws to forbid superintendents from becoming board members. 

"The board decides the super’s compensation and bonus, and provides the super directions. The board reviews the super’s performance and, when necessary, decides what disciplinary measures to take with the super," says Jeffrey Reich, a partner in the law firm of Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. "As such, having the super on the board could create real conflicts of interest and would certainly create the appearance of a conflict of interest."

The bylaws are also where you'll find ownership requirements for board members. 

"You need to check the bylaws to see if there are any ownership requirements for someone to serve on the board," says James Woods, Esq., managing partner at Woods Lonergan (and a Brick Underground sponsor). "Some cooperatives may limit board member eligibility to resident-shareholders, or just shareholders, and others do not have those eligibility requirements." 

As a co-op shareholder, you're entitled to a copy of the bylaws, as well as any amendments made to them, Woods adds. If you're having trouble getting these—or making sense of their contents—it's always a good idea to consult with a co-op attorney. 

There are additional city laws about where supers should reside, depending on the size of the building. New York City apartment buildings with nine or more units are required to provide janitorial or superintendent services to residents, and supers must either live in the building or within 200 feet or one block of the building (whichever distance is greater.) If your building is ignoring this rule, you can call 311 or log onto the 311 website to find out how to report a violation. 

If you and enough of your neighbors are in agreement that you want your building to retain the super, you could band together and write a letter to the co-op board. But if the super will only stay if he can serve on the board, you're probably out of luck. 


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Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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