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Know When to Put Quality of Life First

Roy Stillman
President, Stillman Management

Know When to Put Quality of Life First

Setting the Scene

Sometime in the past, a situation arose at one of the co-op properties we manage. A shareholder died in his apartment. For some period of time, no one knew about it. Then, for various reasons, people became aware of it, and the board became aware of it.The municipal authorities took the body away. However, when someone dies, there is residue, there are smells, and there are other issues I don’t really want to go into that need to be handled. It gets worse if they are ignored.

Following the Action

We recommended to the board that it should hire a remedial service, do the necessary work, and do it quickly. The board decided that it would be better from a financial point of view to allow the estate to take care of this so that the co-op wouldn’t have to spend the money. We are talking about maybe three or four thousand dollars. We tried to convince the board that ignoring its responsibility in this delicate matter would be a mistake, that we should do what was necessary under the authority of the proprietary lease, and then bill the estate afterward. If the estate proved difficult about paying for the clean-up, we were confident we could recover the money when the unit was sold.

The board did not listen to us. Fortunately, however, the neighbor of the person who had died was a nurse and was aware of the situation. She told us that she planned to go to the county authorities, claiming a health problem unless the board dealt with the problem immediately. When we advised the board of this threat, it reconsidered. We went in and took care of the situation. Shortly thereafter, the estate sold the apartment. The co-op was repaid.

Doing It Right

The lesson to be learned here is that it’s good to be concerned about the financial aspects of an issue, but sometimes quality of life is more important.

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