New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Legal Learning Lab: Community

Apartment Ownership

 

Orchestrating Apartment Closings

Carly Clinton Davidoff, Associate, Adam Leitman Bailey

Host: Carol J. Ott

Apartment closings involve multiple parties coming together in a small closing room — a practice that for many was stopped in its tracks by the pandemic. But apartment sales are important, and there are many creative ways to have a successful closing. How to orchestrate one with all the various players is the focus of this session.

•          First, who needs to be at an apartment closing, and what are their roles?

•          What are the steps to choreographing a closing outside of one room?

•          Who coordinates all these moving parts and how does that get done?

 

 

The Hunt: Next of Kin

Deborah Koplovitz, Shareholder, Anderson Kill

Host: Carol J. Ott

When a shareholder dies, a co-op board’s fiduciary concern is that maintenance continues to be paid. Things can get complicated, though, when a disruptive family member remains in the apartment. In this session you’ll learn just how complicated, and what steps a board can take.

•          Koplovitz is dealing with this situation now, and she tells us what happened.

•          The Tenant Protection Act has changed what the legal options are for a board. What are these changes, and why does it matter?

•          Are there any protections a board can put in place to avoid these types of situations?

 

 

Trust Transfers: What You Need to Know

Peter Massa, Partner, Armstrong Teasdale

Host: Carol J. Ott

For co-op owners making estate plans, putting their apartments into a trust can be an attractive option for their heirs. Boards have to approve such transfers, and in this session you’ll learn what this means and how to protect the co-op corporation.

•          What are the benefits for co-op owners who put their shares in a trust?

•          How can a board accommodate such requests and still protect the co-op corporation?

•          Is there any reason why a board wouldn’t accommodate these requests?

 

 

Co-op Owned Apartments: A Unique Business Decision

Andrew Stern, Partner, Tane Waterman & Wurtzel

Host: Carol J. Ott

Some co-ops have taken apartments back through litigation, satisfaction of a debt or purchase from an estate — and then earned income by renting them. With money tight today, the prospect of selling these assets is attractive. This session focuses on the question: How do you get the renters out?

•          Is there a business solution to this problem?

•          What does a co-op have to be careful of?

•          What kind of offer can be made, and how do you do it?

 

 

Arrears

 

Collections: New Laws, New Challenges

Christopher Tumulty, Partner, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin

Host: Carol J. Ott

Co-op and condo budgets are dependent on the collection of monthly fees, and when that revenue stream slows down or dries up, bills can’t be paid. Staying on top of collections in today’s environment is challenging, and this session focuses on what boards need to do.

•          How has dealing with arrears changed since the Tenant Protection Act was passed?

•          Are grace periods for late payers stipulated by the Tenant Protection Act?

•          If you want to work out a payment plan with someone in arrears, what are the ways to do it?

 

 

Disruptive Behavior

 

The Tools for Taming Unruly Residents

Adam Leitman Bailey, Founding Partner, Adam Leitman Bailey

Host: Bill Morris

With so many New Yorkers stuck in their apartments, either working from home or not working at all, there have been numerous reports of erratic, unruly behavior, even by New York standards. In this session you’ll learn how boards can tame disruptive residents.

•          Can the mere threat of bringing a “Pullman” eviction proceeding make a disruptive co-op shareholder reform?

•          What can a board do when a resident becomes a self-anointed enforcer of the house rules?

•          Can condo boards use the right of first refusal to get rid of disruptive subletters?

 

 

How to Handle Intolerable Behavior

Emanuela Lupu-Ferrante, Partner, Smith Buss & Jacobs

Host: Carol J. Ott

Behavior that was problematic when you went to an office has turned insufferable when you’re home full time. How to deal with these disruptive individuals is often complex, and this session focuses on today’s strategies.

•          What kind of behavior is objectionable, and what did boards do about it pre-pandemic?

•          Now that we’re in the midst of the pandemic, how is this behavior handled?

•          What about Article 81 guardianships, Adult Protective Services and the courts?

 

 

Dealing With Rule-Breakers

Michael Manzi, Partner, Smith Gambrell & Russell

Host: Carol J. Ott

There are lots of stories about that shareholder or unit-owner who flouts building rules. What can a board do? This session’s focus is on curbing the rule-breaker, and the fines and fees that could help.

•          It’s easy to adopt a new rule, but where should it exist in the governing structure in order to be enforced?

•          If someone breaks a rule, what can a board do to get the attention of the rule-breaker and then change the behavior?

•          Regarding fines, how do you set them, how do you collect them, and what is the relationship between an infraction and a fine?

 

 

Neighbor Disputes: You Might Have to Get Involved

Stanley Somer, Managing Partner, Somer & Heller

Host: Carol J. Ott

When neighbors complain about neighbors, the situation can easily escalate. Everyone wants the situation resolved, but usually a board — or a building owner, for that matter — doesn’t weigh in. That could change, because of a case that’s now being litigated. This session will explain what’s going on.

•          Somer explains the dispute between Tenant A and Tenant B.

•          What has been the legal journey of this dispute?

•          If Tenant B prevails, what will this mean for boards and landlords?

 

 

Resident Concerns

 

How to Handle COVID-19 Deaths

Helene Hartig, Principal, Helene W. Hartig Law Offices

Host: Carol J. Ott

Many co-ops and condos have had residents die from COVID-19. When they die in their apartments, a whole host of issues crop up. This session explores what these are and how to handle them.

•          Some of your clients have gone through this. Hartig explains what happened.

•          What are the corporate issues a board has to deal with?

•          Is there anything a board should do proactively in anticipation of having to deal with this type of event?

 

 

The Humane Way to Deal With At-Risk Residents

Lisa Radetsky, Partner, Phillips Nizer

Host: Bill Morris

COVID-19 has put added stress on everyone in the city — but especially on at-risk residents who were having trouble taking care of themselves before the pandemic hit. In this session, you’ll learn the humane and effective way to deal with incompetent residents and make sure that they and all residents remain safe.

•          What are the three places to turn for help?

•          Are there limits on the legal options available to co-op and condo boards?

•          How can a condo board successfully relocate a dangerous resident?

 

 

When COVID-19 Comes Home

Dennis Greenstein, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw

Host: Carol J. Ott

COVID-19 is scary, particularly when neighbors in your co-op or condo become ill. But sometimes boards are called upon to step up and do the right thing — both morally and legally. One board faced this situation head on, and in this session you’ll learn how the board met the needs of a dying shareholder while ensuring that others were safe.

•          What was the situation, and how did the board learn about it?

•          What kind of arrangements were made?

•          Were there any legal issues surrounding these actions?

 

 

Sublets

 

Revisiting Your Sublet Policy

Phyllis Weisberg, Partner, Armstrong Teasdale

Host: Carol J. Ott

In a recent survey of Habitat board readers, 70% reported a drop in occupancy levels because of the pandemic. Owners might return, or they might take a wait-and-see stance. Subletting is the ultimate way to wait and see, but many co-ops severely restrict the practice. Is it time to revisit the sublet policy?

•          What are the sublet pros and cons in most co-ops?

•          In this environment, should boards adjust their sublet policies, and if so, how?

•          Can a board allow more sublets for a specific period of time?

 

 

Reining In Out-of-Control Sublets

Seth Sahr, Partner, Novitt Sahr & Snow

Host: Carol J. Ott

When sublets get out of hand in a co-op, big problems can occur. How to respond when that situation arises is the focus of this session.

•          What is the financial fallout for a co-op if sublets grow too numerous?

•          Do boards have a right to control sublets? If so, what governs that right?

•          What are some tried-and-true methods for controlling sublets?

 

 

 

 

SESSION HIGHLIGHT

Track: Community

Room: Sublets

 

Reining In Out-of-Control Sublets

Seth Sahr, Partner, Novitt Sahr & Snow

 

Habitat: What’s the most important point boards need to know about subletting?

 

Sahr: From my point of view, it’s the financing. Because the last thing that you want to have is a bunch of shareholders knocking on the board’s door, saying, “I can’t refinance my unit, or I can’t sell my unit because all of the banks are declining the building. You have too many sublets.” If you’ve got too many sublets, you are really hurting the building, because the value of the units goes down if nobody can finance them.

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