What Are Big Apple Rules for Buildings Having a Super?
I live in a small condo, 10 units. I realize that we are too small to have a live-in super, but are there any New York City or Department of Buildings requirements relating to having a super at all? The person described as the “part-time super” is actually a porter: he’s just responsible for cleaning the building, with no knowledge of the building’s mechanical systems, plumbing, or electrical work. Apparently, we have one or two ad hoc professionals who come infrequently to check on the building (e.g., turning on the heater for the winter months). Is there anything I can do to get my board to hire a real super? I am fine with the person not living in the building; it would just be good to have someone available, even part-time, who has a super’s skills.
Mark B. Levine, RAM (Excel Bradshaw Management Group)
There are two areas of the law that touch upon this. You have ten units, so the first applies to you: the Housing Maintenance Code, Article 13, which states that “a building of nine apartments or more” is subject to the requirements. The second is the Multiple Dwelling Law Article 3/Title 83, which states that “a dwelling with thirteen or more tenants” [is also subject to the requirements].
As far as live-in super requirements, both articles state that a 24-hour janitor or housekeeper can reside in the building, or a janitor can reside within 200 feet of the building, or the agent or owner can live in the building.
If you have a responsible party for the condo who lives in the building (the board president, or the like) who can be responsible in an emergency, you can most likely satisfy the requirements of the Fair Housing Maintenance Code. I would put that person on the Multiple Dwelling Registration of the building as well.
Hi, thanks for your answer. I have a more specific question: we had no heat one Sunday; it was less than 60 degrees in my bedroom. I notified the board and was told that the plumber would come by on Monday to start the boiler. Similarly, when the temperature goes into the 60s on the weekend, our apartments are too hot and there is no one available to adjust the heat (we have no thermostats in our units). Can we use the tenets of the Multiple Dwelling Law to insist that someone (the part-time plumber or whoever) address heating problems over the weekend rather than having to wait until Monday?
JG in NYC
New York City has specific heat requirements from October 1 through May 31.
6 A.M.–10 P.M., if colder than 55, inside => 68
10 A.M.–6 A.M., if colder than 40, inside => 55
How old is this condo? I can’t imagine any building today without some sort of heat timer or boiler control along with thermostats. If you have a separate hot water system, maybe the boiler was shut down for the summer and just needed to be turned on, as the board member stated.
The building was constructed in the early part of the 20th century and converted to a condo in the late 1980s. And the boiler was not shut down for the summer. It was November 2nd and it was 46 degrees F outside. The plumber was called because a leak had to be repaired before the boiler could be turned back on. I contend that the plumber should have been paid overtime to repair the leak over the weekend and get the boiler going rather than the residents having to wait, in discomfort, for the plumber to come on Monday.
What kind of governance structure do you have and how are decisions made? Currently, who is responsible in your condominium for making decisions like authorizing overtime payment for emergency repair work?
When I asked about how decisions are made one board member said they’re made by a consensus of the owners. But – given that the president didn’t set an agenda for the last annual meeting, and that copies of the finances were not made available to discuss at the annual meeting, and that no one has distributed notes yet on the meeting, which took place over four months ago – I think that this board has not completely thought through or decided on a formal decision-making process.
JG in NYC
When was the leak discovered? Is anyone keeping an eye on the boiler on a daily basis? Does the condo have a board treasurer? Is there a budget? The hiring of a super, even part-time, costs money. If you were to hire a part-time super, say, 20 hours a week at $10 per hour, it would cost at least $10,000 a year, plus benefits (e.g., Social Security taxes, workers’ comp.), divided by 10 owners. Every decision has its pros and cons.
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