As a new condo buyer, you should be aware that only you and your fellow owner-partners are responsible for the financial strength of your complex.

This means that any extraordinary expenses are your responsibility. If necessary, the board can assess each owner his pro rata share of these expenses.

In other words, it really doesn't matter that much what your monthly fee is.

When is comes to maintenance, you can pay it now or you can pay if later.

This brings up the matter of the board of directors. Any condominium board of directors has growing pains as it tries to cope with new situations. This is why many associations have staggered terms for their directors. In that way, there will always be at least one or two experienced hands on the board.

All too often a new condo owner believes that a meeting of the owners, or their representatives, is nothing more than a meeting of all the partners for the exclusive purpose of staying up into the wee hours of the night fussing about every little detail of the complex.

The typical board of directors means well. They always mean well. But your board is managing a business with many partners.

The board meetings often are well attended, especially whenever controversial items are to be discussed. At the board meeting, the board must manage a crowd as well as its business.

The board member-homeowners may be new residents themselves. Often the future of a million-dollar enterprise is in the hands of board members who have no training in managing people, money or property.

Fortunately, there are several simple steps that condo owners can take to help the board:

Elect members who have management experience. If no such candidates exist, elect someone willing to learn how well-run business operate.

Insist that Roberts Rules of Order is followed, even if this means the appointment of parliamentarian.

Be sure the board adopts and lives up to rules of procedure. For example, some boards insist that all motions be in writing, even if they are handwritten on the spot.

Stick to the business at hand. Demand an agenda in advance of the meeting, and avoid inflammatory or emotional language when you're there.

People basically have enough common sense to do a good job as board members as long as they can take a disciplined approach to running a business and a human approach to dealing with people.

Help the board concentrate on its duties by giving it a chance to do its job.