Your guide to building bylaws

You’ve joined the board of your condo or co-op in New York City only to find yourself swimming in documents - statutes, bylaws, house rules, the list goes on! 

Each of these documents serves a different purpose when governing your building. Here, let’s break down building bylaws - what they are and why they’re important.

First, what are bylaws?

Bylaws set the very rules and regulations for how to govern your building fairly and legally. Like any corporate or governing bylaws, they: 

  • Clearly define the powers, responsibilities, and term limits of your board members
  • Establish voting requirements
  • Dictate how your board operations affect residents
  • Articulate the parameters by which residents and board members communicate on various issues

What can you find in your bylaws?

Every building has its own charms, and your bylaws are meant to reflect your building’s particular needs and objectives. This said, bylaws typically include the following:

Name and purpose

  • Official name
  • Fiscal year it was established
  • Address
  • Statement of purpose that establishes what your bylaws will do
  • Process through which your bylaws will be overridden or will override other regulations

Powers and duties of board members

Most bylaws include rules around board member powers, including:

  • If, when, and how the board can remove a member's voting rights
  • If, when, and how the board can remove a board member if they don't fulfill their duties

Duties center on day-to-day responsibilities, such as:

  • Record-keeping policies
  • Voting structure for board members
  • Maintenance policies
  • Communication channels, such as how you will inform board members about upcoming lot violations, assessments, and inspections

Officer duties

Then, you’ll find an overview of officer duties: what each officer's role is and when, how, and for how long they assume their duties. For example, these roles include:

President: The president is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Association and will preside at every meeting of the board to ensure that all resolutions, decisions, and orders are carried out.

Vice President: The vice president will assume all the powers of the president whenever the president is not present at a meeting.

Treasurer: The treasurer will maintain full and accurate accounts of the building’s receipts and disbursements, as well as perform other duties that are assigned to them by the board or president.

Secretary: The secretary will:

  • Attend every board meeting
  • Record all minutes and votes in one space kept specifically for this purpose
  • Give or give others the ability to give notice of all meetings, including special meetings
  • Safeguard the corporation seal and apply it to any document as needed and authorized by the board
  • Maintain all the records and documents in a safe and proper format as required by New York state law
  • Prepare and present a list of members entitled to vote and indicate each of their names and addresses at the beginning of each meeting
  • Perform other duties as required by the board

Meeting rules

Your bylaws provide the very guidelines for your various board meetings, including board meetings, annual meetings, special meetings of owners and shareholders, and more. Details include: 

  • What constitutes a quorum (i.e., the minimum number of people in attendance to make it an official meeting)
  • How many days notice is required
  • What is the necessary method of communication
  • Virtual versus in-person meetings

Amendments

The sponsor files amendments with the attorney general when the condo or co-op is first established and may need to be updated to fit your building’s current operational needs.

Think your bylaws need amending? More times than not, your best next step is to connect with a real estate attorney you trust to review and draft the necessary amendments. Then, put it up for a vote with all owners or shareholders. Check if you need a majority or supermajority to adopt!

Work with an experienced property management company

Feeling overwhelmed by your building’s governing documents? You’re not alone. Consider working with an experienced property management company like Daisy. We have the experts on hand to help you - whether it’s reviewing your bylaws, highlighting antiquated sections, connecting you with reputable real estate attorneys, and more.

We’re here to make your life as a board member easier by providing you the guidance you deserve to make better decisions for the health of your building. Learn more about us today.