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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



2014: The Year in Review

The year is ending, and with that, we present a review of what was good, bad, and inane in the New York real estate world.


Most Laudable Idea: Local Law 84, which requires buildings of more than 50,000 square feet to monitor and report on their energy consumption.


Swiss Army Knife Award: to versatile computerized violation tracking services, which not only track building code violations but also are now adding mobile apps, state and federal databases, 311 complaints, upcoming deadlines (with alerts) for filing, and more.


Most Dramatic Prediction of the Future of a Greenwich Village Building in the Path of a Water-Main-Break-Induced Flood: “Good God! The building’s going to be swept away!” (By Asher Bernstein, board member)


Eating Is on the Agenda Award: to the Harlem board that believes eating during a meeting makes for a more harmonious session. But, warns the president and chief gourmand Paul Morejon, don’t fall into the “Let’s just get pizza” trap. Down that road lies heft.


Most Succinct Statement of the Obvious: “It’s a bad thing to live in a building where you’re afraid of being evicted.” (By attorney Adam Leitman Bailey)


Second Most Succinct Statement of the Obvious: “You need manpower, and if you’ve got it, it makes an emergency that much easier to handle.” (By William Bissel, superintendent of a co-op that faced a flood)


How Not to Support Your Labor Contract Negotiations: by signing a “me too” agreement to avoid the “inconveniences” of a strike, which was a possibility during 2014’s contract talks. A private agreement prepared by the union, the agreement allows employees to keep working, even during a strike, which some argue undercuts the management negotiating committee and employer solidarity.


Orwell Doublespeak Award: to the Inwood co-op that was wary of raising maintenance but had no compunction about imposing a “permanent assessment.”


Is Her Family That Big? A question one Manhattan condo board asked when 30 “family members” and others stayed for an average of a day or two at one owner’s unit, leading to the owner’s eviction for breaking sublet rules.


But Do They Wear Helmets? The 99 Bank Street board claimed in a lawsuit that property values took a hit after a CitiBike bicycle station was placed in front of its condo.


The Last Word on Management Executive Alan Gorelick, who Pleaded Guilty to Stealing $2.6 Million from Clients, by a Manager Who Knew Him: “You wouldn’t be conned if he wasn’t knowledgeable and charming. That’s how people like him get away with it.”


Anything Goes (Excluding Boxing) Award: to East Side board president Richard Miller who said, “We have no restrictions; anything they want to talk about, we put on the agenda, and everybody says what they want to. It’s very informal, very open, and very friendly.”


Anything Goes (Including Boxing) Award: to the co-op “where people had to get up and restrain other owners from getting into a fistfight.” (As reported by mortgage broker Pat Niland)


Peeling the Onion Is Not Always Fun But Can Show You What Not to Do Award: to the Harlem board members who found that their predecessors had not solicited bids on contracting and boiler repair jobs, and in fact had locked themselves into several costly contracts; that the board’s attorney was charging $300 an hour, including $22 per e-mail; that the accountant didn’t complete the 2013 annual financial report until August of 2014; and that taxes weren’t prepared until September.


New Math Prize: to the board that pays its attorney up to $20,000 a month to chase owners in arrears, while the total owed climbs by $10,000 every month.


Best Magazine/Website/Apps About Running a Co-Op or Condo: Habitat.

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