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Habitat Magazine December 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Who's Responsible for Terrace Doors?

Read this article in the digital edition.

 

Andrea P

We have four buildings. Only one building has 20 units, each with patio and terrace doors. We recently replaced the front doors of all of the apartments in each of the four buildings. Some of the residents of Building 1 have complained that when we changed the doors, we should have replaced the patio and terrace sliding doors as well.

In the past, our former managing agent mailed letters to those shareholders informing them that they are responsible for replacing those doors. Now that this agent is no longer managing the property, no one can locate those notices, and terrace and patio doors are not mentioned in the proprietary lease. The current board does not want to take on the responsibility of replacing these doors because only 25 percent of the shareholders have those doors and they also own additional shares for having the terraces and the patios. Not to mention, it would set bad precedent to suddenly fund the cost of these doors, when people within the last three years have replaced theirs at their own expense.

I’m just curious to know how terrace doors are treated in other buildings. Is this the building’s responsibility or the shareholder’s?

vp11104

You should refer to the proprietary lease regarding responsibilities. Management companies do not dictate or establish house rules; the governing documents do (bylaws, PL, NYCBL). If those documents are unclear or not specific enough, you should seek advice from the building’s attorney.

Andrea P

We do have our attorney looking into this. It looks like we will have to amend the proprietary lease because it does not specifically reference terrace doors and only mentions “‘special doors’ are the responsibility of the lessee.” I’m sure the shareholders questioning this will argue that the term “special doors” is not specific enough and open to interpretation. I am just curious to get feedback from other buildings to hear how terrace doors are covered in their governing docs.

Adc

If you have a terrace or windows, there are responsibilities on the co-op or the shareholder for the maintenance and repair of the terrace and the windows in your proprietary lease. If the co-op is responsible for windows, I would say your exterior doors should also be your responsibility. Otherwise, you may end up with miscellaneous doors and diverse installations that may, in the long run, hurt the exterior looks of the co-op and may cause leaks if the installer did not do it correctly. Similarly, if the terrace is repaired by the co-op, my gut instinct is that, to retain uniformity, the co-op pays for the exterior doors and sliders as well.

The fact that the apartments with terraces have more shares than others should not be an issue. Shareholders of those apartments pay proportionately more in rent or maintenance than others when an assessment is passed for an amenity that may be used by all. For example, a complex with a pool finds higher maintenance shareholders paying more for the repair of the pool than those with fewer shares, but in essence all can use the pool in equal measure. The same may be said for replacement of carpets: all walk on them to a greater or lesser degree without consideration for shares owned. So, if some shareholders with a higher number of shares get a break for terrace doors, let them feel good for receiving something for their higher contribution.

Finally, if shareholders were charged for something that the co-op was supposed to do but did not do, that should not be a problem. If the shareholders made the change on their own to have a better door, etc., then there is no need to apologize; they did it on their own for the sake of having a better door.

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