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Star, Co- op Abatement and other Exemptions - NYC May 23, 2018

Can I look up my star, veterans and co- op abatement credits separately? My co-op clumps them together.

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You should be able to view them separately. The Dept of Finance breaks them out separately when notifying your management company.

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Must Proxies Be Mailed to Shareholders? - H. May 21, 2018

Must the mailed Annual Meeting notice include a blank proxy, or can shareholders be advised that they can be obtained upon request?

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Laws regarding emergency access to buildings in NYC - ljr May 21, 2018

We are in a small coop (10 units) built in 1921. We have an outer lobby door and an inner lobby door. Our apartment buzzers are in the outer lobby, not on the front of the building. You have to enter through the outer lobby door to get to the apartment buzzers. The building has a rule that the outer lobby door must be locked after 9 PM--to keep out intruders who might decide to sleep in the outer lobby. This has happened a few times--once recently, unfortunately, when that door was left open. The problem is that emergency workers then do not have access to the building in an emergency. This has also happened, when we once called an ambulance late at night and forgot that they had no way to buzz our buzzer. They wound up rousing our neighbor, who let them in--we were too busy tending to the sick person to be watching the door. I was told that not having emergency access to a building via doorbell or buzzer is against the law in NYC--so I am trying to locate that law in order to force the rest of the board--I am Secretary-- to seriously consider going through the expense and trouble of installing a new system. (We are landmarked, so that is admittedly a hassle, but some similar buildings have done so--it's definitely possible.) Some of us are more worried about intruders in the outer lobby than about ambulances and fire trucks. They just ignore the concern. Does anyone have any advice on this?

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what is too low a credit score for purchase? - pk May 15, 2018

I'm the new Treasurer for a NJ coop and am reviewing admissions applications.

Our by-laws only allow us to deny a purchase based on poor financials. Do any coops out there have a minimum credit score they try to stay away from?

What do you consider when looking at the credit report?

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I'm looking to approve someone who can pay their monthly bills if I approve their application.

I'm not making their credit score the only thing I look at. For me, I'm looking at how much they owe now and how much debt they have to pay each month.

The credit report breaks down these debts into 2 types: 1) regular credit card debt and 2) other debt like student loans, car loans, and mortgages.

I then weigh their income against their monthly debt, also considering food and other usual monthly living expenses.

Then I decide if they can meet their expenses based on their income.

A credit score can be impacted by an event that happened long ago. If the applicant is on the straight and narrow as of now and keeping their debt manageable, then that's what I'm emphasizing today.

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I totally agree with Marty about not isolating a credit score and make it the sole determining factor. There are many factors which affect a credit score, many of which are not relevant to a purchaser's ability to pay their mortgage and maintenance.

Our financial evaluation process is similar to Marty's. We look at two components - sufficient income to meet monthly non-discretionary obligations (mortgage, maintenance, automobile, student loans, minimum credit card repayments, etc), and sufficient *liquid* assets to be able to meet obligations for 3-6 months in case they lose their income.

By liquid assets I mean bank and investment accounts (and similar). We will include retirement accounts because they can be tapped in an emergency. What we give very little weight to are owned real estate, tangible property, items with collector value, etc, because these many not be easily converted to cash.

If income is provided from a trust we may ask for a copy and have our lawyer review it to make sure the terms allow for sufficient monthly disbursements.

If a purchaser is on the borderline, it's not unusual to ask for 12 - 24 months of maintenance payments be put in escrow for a couple of years, or to ask for a guarantor of the maintenance payments. Your attorney can help you set these up.

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Building Staff Utilities FYI - YonkersCOOP May 08, 2018

Our in-house finance committee, made up of shareholders who review the management reports on a quarterly basis, discovered that the corporation has been paying the ‘Verizon FiOs’ package for the building super, including cable, phone and internet. The super has a cell phone which is used for work purposes, so the landline with the package would be for the super’’s personal use.

Just wanted to throw it out there - is this expense considered optional or required for the resident super? The Board is generally ticked off that this cost may have been passed on erroneously to the coop for quite some time. Please share your thoughts... Thanks!

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My building had a very similar but more complex situation with our live-in super and telephone lines. What we ultimately discovered was that when Verizon converted all our copper "POTS" phone lines to fiber, they unilaterally upgraded a phone line to FiOS Triple Play they were not authorized to upgrade.

A phone line the super uses in his office and for which the building receives and pays the monthly invoices, was listed as a residential phone line in the super's name. It should have been listed as a business line in the building's name. The super has his own FiOS Triple Play service he pays for directly.

When our lines were updated from copper POTS to Fiber, the super contracted privately to upgrade to FiOS Triple Play (about $220/month). Verizon, in their blessed incompetency, also upgraded the office phone line that was in our super's name, to FiOS Triple Play at about the same $220/month.

It took us about six months, until February of this year, to discover the problem. I'm still fighting with Verizon for a refund, so lotsa luck!

Bottom line. If you have a live-in super, he should be paying for his digital services unless there is a clear understanding with the building that the building will pay the bill. If he uses the phone service bundled with the Triple Play for an office phone or other business purpose, he should be reimbursed accordingly.

Before you have "the talk" with the super or take any action, you must determine when and who authorized the upgrade to the expensive digital services. You need to go back to the beginning when the expensive services were first ordered, and try to find out who authorized the upgrade. Hopefully, your managing agent archived the actual invoices or has copies of them so you can determine when this started. If you have an approximate date, see if Verizon can supply you with paper copies of the invoices around that date.

What you find out about who authorized the changes will determine how you handle the situation. If it was the super and he upgraded without permission, he bears responsibility. If Verizon did the upgrade without anyone approving the change, it becomes the building's responsibility.

The length of time the expensive services were in place will also color your interaction with your super, if you determine he is responsible. Co-ops have a responsibility to review their expenses on a monthly or quarterly basis. The overcharge should have been flagged within three months. If it's been going on for longer, you either need to eat some of the excess or work out a payment plan with your super.

Even if he authorized the upgrade, it may have been an innocent mistake. Plans like Triple Play are notoriously complex (probably to achieve exactly what happened here), and your super may have thought he was being economical because of all the "savings" he was told there would be. Verizon, Spectrum, AT&T are very predatory, and you need to give your super the benefit of the doubt until determined otherwise.

I hope I've given you some food for thought. Please don't jump to any conclusions, but establish as best you can what happened, and then decide if you need to do anything vis-a-vis your super. If you value your super and have a good working relationship with him, simply pointing out what you discovered but not asking for any reimbursement, or just for reasonable reimbursement, will create a huge amount of priceless good will. At least that's how it works in our building.

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NYC Co-op tax abatement and Star Credit - EES May 08, 2018

Curious to see if other buildings have not received their credits from Star and NYC Co-op tax abatement?
Our managing agent explains that ..."The abatement numbers have not been finalized by the city despite for 16/17 or 17/18...." I have tried emailing the DOF, NY taxation and 311. According to 311 our building did receive credits for Star and according to NYC Finance "letters" were mailed to the managing agent.
It is hard to get a straight answer, so looking here for a simpler explanation.

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In my experience, your managing agent (MA) should have received the abatement/STAR info within the first 4-6 weeks of the new year, or by mid February. This correlates to what the DOF and 311 have told you.

Anything is possible with the DOF, but it sounds like your MA may have messed up. I'd suggest having your MA contact the DOF once again to make sure there wasn't some error.

Sheelah Feinberg within the DOF has been helpful in these matters. Her email address is FeinbergSA@finance.nyc.gov

Your shareholders need to have this cleared up ASAP or else you're going to bear the brunt of their anger.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I requested a copy of my benefits page from the D.O.F., when I received it I noticed that the amount I received was different than what my co-op was giving me. I questioned this with my M.A. who took no responsibility and said this is the information he received and that was that.
Even though this affected other cooperatives, I had to take the matter into my own hands and contact the D.O.F. via. email @ http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/about/contact-by-email/contact-coop-and-condo-abatement-inquiries.page

It took about 3 months to get a response, but was informed that they were sending updated lists to the M.A.( I do not believe this was for Star and Enhanced Star but for some Sche and Scrie and the benefits would be retroactive for 2017/2018. D.O.F. said it would take up to 15 days for the M.A. to receive the new list. It has ben 3 weeks and according to my M.A. no list has been received and once again it is my responsibility to follow up. Good Luck!

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I have received my forms for most every building I manage (excepting 1).
New process this year is that everything was done online.
When the Managing Agent initially filed, he/she should have gotten an online receipt for the filing... I would ask to see it if you're skeptical.

~AR

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We filed the change form in January but when we got a revised statement in April, it did not contain one change. I contacted DOF by email and they replied, saying the change was made, gave me the amount allocated to the apartment in question, and said it would be in a revised statement we would get in early June. By the way, for new shareholders in the past few years, they apply for and get the STAR directly from the State and it is not included in the DOF statement.

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tara1234 - Queens May 05, 2018

We have two openings on our board and only two candidates that no one want to vote for.

If we don't meet the quorum at the annual meeting, is there a time limit before a meeting is called for the express purpose of voting in new board members.

We understand that without a quorum, the state of the co-op can be discussed but voting can not take place.

We would like a month or two in order to find viable candidates to run against the current ones.

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I think you would have to review your by-laws to see if instructions are provided for this type of situation.

I can appreciate that there are two candidates that "no one wants to vote for", but at least these 2 people volunteered to run. Why are there no other candidates?

Quite frankly, it sounds as if you mean that there are 2 candidates running that you and/or the rest of the current Board does not want to vote for. If so, then you should have been seeking out "acceptable" candidates long before the Annual Meeting was scheduled.

You talk as if a quorum will not be reached, but what if you do have a quorum and these are the only 2 people that are running? Seems like you'd be stuck with them.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but you need to be much more proactive in finding candidates that are acceptable to you instead of hoping that you don't get a quorum.

Don't blame these 2 people for running, and please don't hope that a quorum isn't reached. That's not a good way to run a proper Board in my opinion.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

People have become apathetic due to a self-serving board and a mgmt. company that caters to them and together retaliate against cooperatives who go against them. These Two people who would clearly be YES men we're picked by a board member not a director in an attempt to have more power on the board. From what I have read on this sight, we are not the first and certainly not the last co-op to have this problem

I suppose you are correct, buying time will not help. It will only cost the co-op more $$$ for another meeting and yes our by laws do provide for a new meeting if quorum is not met. Thanks for your input. I guess the board will have to duke it out amongst themselves and hopefully the co-op and cooperatives won't bleed out in the process.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Tara did you have an open candidates night? You can get to talk to your shareholders and try to recruit more people. Most people don't understand that serving for the board is really not that hard, like the board says or suggest. You can also post that if anyone would like to step up and run for the board this would be a great opportunity.
Best of Luck

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Great suggestion,
The problem is when names are given of interested parties, incidents start happening, such as their car get keyed, if they planted a tree or flower garden it gets destroyed. They call for repairs and they have to wait weeks for a response on why there was a delay. People get the message loud and clear and back off. This is the first time in many years that no one wants to run for the B.O.D. The only candidates that do not have any incidents are the ones that are promoted by existing board members.

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How many fobs to issue - RT-fob-issue May 04, 2018

Greetings all. We're in the process of finalizing our keyfob system and currently grappling with how to respond to requests for extra fobs for their emergency contact. We are a Mitchell Lama coop and only those listed on our annual income affidavits receive fobs. Some requesting fobs for emergency contact state it that simply... others have more detailed requests. We're agreed that management oversee the distribution decision, and management has suggested issuing temporary id passes after a formal request is submitted. There is concern around not wanting security to have access to specific personal information submitted on the request. We also have a suggestion that specific coded fobs be issued and access history reviewed to detect abuse. Has anyone addressed these issues, and if so, how did you handle it/them. Thanks for your replies.

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We have a FOB system and replace all of them from time to time to address security concerns. On systemic replacement, we provide six FOBs to the unit owner. Extra FOBs are at unit owners cost. Management maintains the list of FOBs with their identification numbers related to the owners, but nothing more.

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It's my understanding that most key fob and swipe card systems use a central computer that can control the dates, days, and times a fob or card can be active. Can you use that capability to control the accessibility of the extra fobs or keys?

I also believe that the same computer can generate activity reports for individual or groups of fobs/cards. If there's a question of a fob/card being used inappropriately, such a report will provide clear evidence.

Key fobs and swipe cards provide much better access control and verification than simply distributing extra keys for a mechanical lock.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

We recently bought the key fob system in house vs. utilizing a third-party vendor to manage the process. The Property Manager and Board Officers are responsible for issuing fobs to residents. Fobs are issues based on the number of residents in the unit. A extra fob is provided for emergency contact on a case-by-case basis. Naturally there is a security concern; however, the system allows us to deactivate any fobs that are lost or broken. We can generate activity reports as well to determine any suspicious activity by a resident.

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I have the systems in many of my buildings and love it.

The system (mine is a Kerri) can limit days, times, points, etc.. and we issue separate fob access keys for Shareholders, household help, contractors, even postal all by limiting the specific access on each group created.. you can create as many groups as you need. I have one building with a fob accessed roof deck and we will now be limiting the access to adult shareholders only!

In case of an incident, we can review the point of entry logs and print out whatever s needed.

The most important thing is to ensure the initial entry of distributed keys, and replacement keys are maintained. Remember to turn off lost or stolen keys and back up the system periodically.

~AR

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NEW Elevator Door Lock Monitoring Requirement - REAPLLC May 02, 2018

I just received this email from Otis, one of my elevator companies...

"As your elevator service provider, we are informing you that the NYC Department of Building has adopted a new mandated requirement for all existing automatic passenger and freight elevators – Door Lock Monitoring. All elevators under the NYC Department of Buildings jurisdiction must comply with this new requirement by January 1st, 2020. Our goal is to complete these upgrades quickly and efficiently so that you will be in compliance by the effective date.

Attached you will find the Door Lock Monitoring proposal for your specific building’s elevator(s). Please be aware that demand, labor and price for this task will be expected to increase closer to the compliance date, therefore, it is best to take action as soon as possible. "

The quote was for 23,000. ... wow, what a shocker!
So I did some research, especially since the elevator was a complete Mod done by Otis last year and found out the following:
All controllers built to meet the A17.1-2000 Code (which came out in 2000) should have the door lock monitoring provisions already built in... It was only prior to 2000/02 that NYC followed the A17.1-1996 Code so it’s safe to assume older controllers do not have provisions, but the newer ones should.

“As per ASME A17.3 of 2002, as modified by Chapter K3 of Appendix K Section 3.10.12 of the New York City Building Code, all automatic passenger and freight elevators must provide a system to monitor and prevent automatic operation with faulty door contact circuits by January 1, 2020.”

That said, be careful, know when your system was installed or upgraded and question your elevator company .... don't just sign the blanket proposal they probably send out to all their clients!

~AR

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

AR - Thanks for the info about the new door lock requirement and corresponding DoB regulations. Very informative. I passed it on to my building's super and property manager.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

AR - I echo Steven's sentiments. Thank you for this information.

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This post details the cost. The information might help others identify if it's a blanket proposal from the elevator vendor.

https://www.elevatorlab.com/blog/cost-to-install-elevator-door-lock-monitoring-system

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Restricting the use of public video surveillance data by third parties - REAPLLC Apr 25, 2018

Due to the litigant nature of society, we should Prohibit, to the extent possible, sharing of public video surveillance data with third parties, including private litigants, and restrict sharing with other governmental entities.

Communities should restrict use of public video surveillance data by third parties. Especially to the extent the data reveals identifiable individuals, sharing of data with private litigants or other governmental agencies without the consent of the affected individuals severely undermines confidence in official motives for collecting such information, further threatens constitutional rights and values, and could generate legal liability for law enforcement. While releasing footage may be beneficial in some cases, such as to enlist public aid in apprehending a suspect or to perform an audit, in general, disclosures to third parties creates increased risk of the information being used for improper and unaccountable purposes.

I want to come up with a set written policy and procedure for my buildings and an indemnification of some sort to be signed when I actually do provide access to video… Plus a reimbursement fee to pay for the superintendents time for the retrieval process….

That said: Does anyone have any existing written policies and procedures in place? Possibly an indemnification and hold harmless for those entrusted with information? What are your policies?

Anthony Reinglas

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Hi Anthony,

This issue has been discussed on here before, so you might look for previous threads on surveillance videos.

An article from The Cooperator (magazine of the Counsel of NYC Cooperatives and Condominiums) provides a decent basic overview of surveillance regulations and practices. You can read the article here: https://cooperator.com/article/the-state-of-surveillance/full#cut

--- Steve

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Neither the old tread or the article sheds much light on third party usage and protection against liability of sharing the video, E.g. what if I give the video to an attorney for a slip and fall case and he sees his wife cheating on him, or a drug deal, or it does not capture what was intended for some reason.. etc.. crazy extremes but just making a point., there's thousands of scenarios... . but now I'm at liability for putting that out there! I think buildings and owners of these systems should know the potential risks and mitigate them as best as possible before they become an issue.
~AR

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I am not an attorney, so please do not rely on this as legal advice.

As far as I know, anyone in a public space has no expectation of privacy. This includes the common areas of coops and condos. The same cheating wife, drug deal, etc could just as easily be captured on a tourist's smartphone or video camera with the same results. Think of all the videos posted on Youtube that capture unintended events.

I would assume that any building that asked to provide a copy of their surveillance camera video without any legal process like a subpoena would first prudently go to their attorney for advice. Even then the attorney should be consulted.

I do not think, though, that there is any immediate liability attached to providing a copy of a surveillance video tape, any more than providing a copy of a smartphone file.

If you learn anything more on this please share with the rest of us.

Thanks!
--- Steve

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Great job Steve.....right on the money.

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Thanks, Tim. :-)

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

A problem with restricting access to CCTV recordings is similar to the distribution of purchase application packages. As some coops email PDFs
of applications to Board members, sometimes videos of common area incidents can be sent to Board mrmberd for review. It’s difficult to control access once the Send button is pressed.
A procedure needs to address how long to retain a recording of an incident if it is about to be automatically deleted, and who decides to retain it.

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