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Pet Fees - Lila Aug 06, 2017

Hi guys I'm the new Board President at my co-op and for many years we had a No dog policy. At our last meeting we revisited the no dog policy and voted that the shareholders are now allowed to have a small dog maximum weight fully grown 30 pounds. The shareholder will also attract a monthly fee of $50. One member feels that the fee should be for all pets...Has anyone ever heard of a monthly fee being charged for a cat? Is it even legal to charge a cat owner a fee? Thanks

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It seems that fees for pets face the danger of 'how far does this go'?
What about goldfish, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs..?

I've never heard of a "pet fee" and it seems problematic...

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I totally agree with Bill & the one member that said fees should be for all pets is also right.
More important is requesting every year that the board wants copies of dog license and shots from shareholders Vet.
I too have never heard of a "Pet Fee" this will be more trouble then it's worth. Best of Luck

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Hi Bill - What is the reason your board voted to impose a $50 monthly fee on dog owners and not, say, cat owners or girbil owners or any other domesticated animal?

Usually the best way of handling this is to explain to all shareholders the reasons why the board voted the fee for just dog owners. If the reasons resonate, this might end the objection.

If the decision was arbitrary, depending on the number of potential dog owners in your co-op, there could be varying levels of pushback from your shareholders. If you have a shareholder who is ornery enough and rich enough, this could ultimately lead to a lawsuit over discrimination against a specific subclass of "pet" owners, the definition of "pet" being up to the courts. You don't want to become embroiled in this sort of emotional litigation.

In my opinion, engagement with the shareholder is your best course of action. It also helps to have an understandable reason for the fee.

Good luck!

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Parking spot - malamu Aug 02, 2017

Hi all...hoping you can help.

We recently received notice that our condo board had received the deed to a parking spot. I am not sure whether someone defaulted on tax payments or could not produce the paperwork that demonstrated ownership, or even whether the board used building funds to purchase the spot. I have a few questions:

Is it possible for a condo board to get ownership of a lot and then sell it (funds of course to go to the reserve)?
Would the board actually have had to purchase it from someone and if it used building funds, would it need to let the condo owners know that it had

The condo board has invited owners to purchased the spot (quite small) assessed in the real estate market at 45K (but the city appraisal is far less). I suppose that is fair, but wouldn't it seem more feasible to offer it at a lower rate for existing owners? The original purchase price of the lots (10 years ago) was 5K.

If no one purchases from the building, they want to sell publicly. What are the implications for the building if that occurs...for example, insurance concerns, someone who purchases the spot to lease indefinitely to a stream of people, etc.

Thx.

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Great questions, why don't you present them to your board and your managing agent. In the mean time look back at the paper work they had you sign and read about your purchase of your parking spot. Look at your by-laws, house rules and priority lease. I'd be very interested in what your managing agent has to say and your board. Hope you'd share your out come. Good Luck

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My condo unit suffered a 3rd roof leak - can I get compensated for having to deduct rent from tenant? And what are my rights? - Roof leak for the 3rd time - need advice on my rights and what is best course of action Jul 27, 2017

I own a condo in a building and back in March it suffered another water leak coming from the roof. This was the 3rd time in the past few years and each time the super and management office had tried to identify the cause and eventually said they think it was fixed.
But after this 3rd time and with a new building manager, it seems like they are finally going to retry and find the problem once and for all.
So initially I was pleased with the action and direction in that they are admitting that roof leaks are tricky and so really hard to determine the cause, and that this time they will try to find the problem and fix it once and for all.

I agreed to let them open up a hole in the master bathroom (it is a 2 BR 2 bath unit) in May so they can do water leak testing to find the cause and after a few attempts, it seems like they found what's is.
I am currently renting the unit out so had to confirm with current tenant that it was fine to have that hole in the bathroom. Tenant was understanding and also had been a tenant during the previous leaks and so wanted to also make sure the issue gets fixed correctly this time.

After they did find the cause, they said they would get engineer to look at it but since then it has been relatively radio silence. They eventually did tell me it would be a N steps process:
1. The engineer needs to produce construction documents to indicate to the contractor where exposure is needed.
2. After the Con Docs are done, the contractor will survey the site and produce a bid document.
3. The Board needs to approve the job.
4. Then the investigation can happen.

It has now been close to 2 months and during this time, I had sent an email to management office every other week to get an update (I realize it may take time but wanted to make sure it isn't stalled).
I finally got an email today saying they just completed step 1 (after well over 1.5 months)

There were 2 questions I asked in each email and they never address or responded to them:
1. If the process will be long, can they close out the opened hole in the bathroom ceiling to make it usable to the tenant. The tenant had to camp out on the living room since the master bathrrom has a big hole with water leaking and is humid makes the bedroom also a bit dank and smelly and she is not comfortable lsleeping there. As a result, I had to offer her a rent reduction for June and July rent .
My thinking is if the process is going to take another 3 or more months (and it is now 2 months into it with August coming up), they should try to just close out the hole and make the unit livable again. They don't need to do a complete fixing right now (i.e. Repave and repaint walls/ceiling from the leaks in bathroom and bedroom and replace the tiles that are broken due to water leaking and wearing them out) since they have not fixed the problem yet and so leaking could still happen.

2. Can the building manager please provide me with the board of manager contact info so I can reach out to them as well to try and escalate. Partly I wanted to emphasize the severity of this situation, how it is causing me financially as well as just stress of not knowing if the next major rain storm would cause more leaks.

I had also asked them to send someone in to inspect bathroom for mold but have not gotten any response on when they would do so.

So my question is if it makes sense to hire a lawyer to escalate and what rights do I have right now. Can I withhold common charges until they fix the roof leak? Can I get reimbursed for having to subsidize tenant rent to keep them? And also it is the building responsibility for making sure the bathroom and bedroom that had suffered leaks are properly repaired, yes?
Or am I at risk of losing some rights if I don't take any action now or especially I ask them to just fix the bathroom hole first to make it temporarily livable - then if they do that, they don.'the need to do the proper and more comprehensive repair needed when they have fixed the roof leak?

In earlier emails with the building super, he made it sound like the building is not responsible for anything inside my unit and so I would need to fix the wall and floor tiles and other items.

And in later email, the building management would use language like they are working to help fix my issue. The issue should be the building since it is all due to the roof leaking into my unit, right?

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I am not familiar with the ins-and-outs of condo ownership, and I am definitely not a lawyer. You are asking a lot of very appropriate questions, and I suspect the answers are contained in your condo's governing documents and the condo rules and regulations in the jurisdiction in which your condo is located (NYC?).

My suggestion to you is that you talk to an attorney with experience in condominium law and governance about your situation. The extensive description you provided here should be a good starting point for an attorney to review your matter and offer opinions.

I know it shouldn't have to cost you anything (attorney's fees, etc) to get this resolved, but from the way you describe it, either your condo association is stonewalling you, or they know the rules are on their side and feel they don't owe you anything beyond what they are doing. Either way, you need an expert who can help you navigate this complex situation.

Good luck!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

First contact the board tell them you need for this to be resolve ASAP see what they say put it in writing, Second call your homeowners insurance co. Explain to them exactly what happened and see if you can have them look at the problem and if your insurance policy covers it. They will have contractors to do the work and the insurance company will go to the condo to collect the money. With this leak you may also have mold, explain this to your insurance co. and the board. Take pictures of everything in case you have to consult a lawyer. Good Luck

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Thank you Steven!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

You're welcome. :-)

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Urgent Question - Someone Pls Help! - Laura S Jul 23, 2017

I'm a young-ish (30s), single female who is in the process of buying a property for the 1st time. I was told that the sponsor holds majority shares, but the financials are ok, and I found a bank that will (likely) give me a mortgage. My lawyer and an accountant did due diligence reviewing the bldg's financials, etc. and reported that everything looked fine. But something has been nagging at me that there's still something I don't know. I started doing my own research and came across an article on Habitat, featuring the bldg that I plan to buy into. It's called "When Sponsors Refuse to Sell Apartments-Part 2." (https://www.habitatmag.com/Publication-Content/2008/2008-December/Featured-Articles-from-Our-Print-Magazine/When-Sponsors-Refuse-to-Sell-Apartments-Part-2)

I told the agent that I'd send my signed contract tomorrow. She sent out multiple contracts, so if I send it any later than Tuesday morning, I'll likely not get the apt. But I'm still not 100% confident about moving forward. And after reading the Habitat article, I'm even more concerned. Would I be crazy to move forward on this, given what sounds like major issues with the sponsor? I like the apt. a lot, and I've been looking for a while, but I don't want short-term happiness (finally buying an apt) for long-term misery (being impacted by the sponsor). PLS HELP!

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Go with your gut feelings, what you want is 100% share holders ownership. Habitat is correct. Sponsors can rent or sublet to anyone and control what goes on in the building depending on how many apartments they own in the building. You would be happier with a no sponsor building and a building that does not rent or sublets. Best of Luck in finding your dream home or apt.

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I agree with your gut feelings and with PC#1's comments. Based on what you wrote I would walk away from this apartment.

In addition to all the warnings about sponsor ownership PC#1 listed, another big red flag to me is the issuing of multiple contracts for the same apartment. This sounds very shady at best and could be a scam. It sounds like serious pressure is being applied to get you to sign, and I'd have to ask myself why. I bet your anxiety is what's riling your gut.

You'll definitely find another apartment you'll fall in love with. I'd swipe left on this one.

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Re: Public Benches? - Ari S. Jul 10, 2017

I'm a member of a coop board in Woodside, Queens. We're currently viewing a proposal to beautify the area that sits under our building's awening, which is accessible from the sidewalk. The proposal includes placing seating in this area. It's intended for building residents but would be accesible to any member of the public. Has anyone had experiences with such a feature? Has it created more foot traffic from non residents? Been an asset? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.


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Legal limit on late fees. New case determination. - DM Jun 25, 2017

4% per month, i.e., 48% per year would be unenforceable.  In view of the public policy underlying Penal Law § 190.40, which makes an interest charge of more than 25% per year a criminal offense, these late fees are unenforceable (see Sandra's Jewel Box v. 401 Hotel, 273 A.D.2d 1, 3 [1st Dept 2000];  see also Clean Air Options, LLC v Humanscale Corp., 142 AD3d 923 [1st Dept 2016] ).

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Cleo Realty Associates, L.P., Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Mike Papagiannakis

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

4% fee on the monthly rent is only 4%/ year.
Assuming $2,000/month rent, a 4% late fee is $80. If charged for one year, 12 x $80= $960, or 4% of the $24,000 yearly rent.

But I assume that if the building charged $960/month in late fees on a $2,000 monthly rent, it would be usurious.

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Can homeowners register a new homeowners association? - Michael Jun 19, 2017

I'm a board president of small condo unit in Queens. We recently got rid of developer who was managing building for last 4 years and pocketing maintenance fees.
When we tried to hire new accountant for the building, he suggested that company that developer registered is "For Profit Company" and that we need to setup new "Not for Profit" homeowners association.
I'm wondering whats the connection between building and homeowners association. Buildings in general are registered at attorney generals office, is homeowners association registered same time , can it be changed later?

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You can name your co op and register for profit, you can decide to manage your small co op without a managing agent or you can be your own agent. But I would suggest you look into a managing agent in good standing. I would interview a few before you choose one some charge a lot for doing very little. I'd look into Cooper Square they turned so many co op's around and well known, I would not interview EBMG Excel they are very high price and do very little. Even though your a small co op you need to have a board or look to see who can be a treasurer who will look and pay bills and over see your debits/credits. Also look around your neighborhood and see who they use all, buildings have a plate with the agents name and #. Word of mouth is also good. If your lawyer knows of an accountant with co op experience you can also check the Habitat they are great for information. At 1st it's a lot of work to set up an honest managing agent. But with the right agent they will guide you through this process. Good Luck

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I feel your first order of business should be to have an attorney look into the actual form of your condo's association (for profit vs not for profit) and advise you what is best and what you need to do. The two types of corporations are very different, and I believe (I am not a lawyer) being not for profit is much more beneficial for your unit owners and for tax purposes.

This being said, there may be extenuating circumstances which make being for profit better in your particular situation. This is why I suggested working with an attorney. The attorney can also help you get your building into the best legal form allowable, and answer your other questions.

Good luck!

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Admission - Billy Joe Jun 11, 2017

I have two questions.
First: I'm a Board member in a co-op and the sponsor and another Board member were supposed to interview a person who wanted to rent my apartment. The sponsor told me that I was not allowed to be present during the interview. I responded that I could be present but not vote. The reason I wanted to be at the meeting was to make sure that they give the correct information to the applicant. The sponsor and the other board member walked out. Do I have the right to be present at the interview and not participate.
Second. A month later a Board member stated that it was voted unanimously to reject the tenant without an interview. Can one Board member interview a tenant and make a decision without discussing it with the other board members.

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Did the sponsor give you a reason why you couldn't sit in? Did you interview your renter yourself before they went for the interview? If your answer is yes you did interview the renter before the board approved then I would have trusted my fellow board members. By you insisting on being in the room made them so upset they walked out. I would talk to them and apologize for the misunderstanding. The full board voted to reject your tenant because you did not trust the Admissions committee to interview them without you.

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Question #1: Since you are a board member who participates in perspective subtenant interviews and since it is your perspective subtenant who is being interviewed, your other board member might have felt you had a conflict of interest. Even if you remained silent at the interview, the simple fact of your presence could have influenced other board members into asking "softball" questions or not asking pertinent but difficult questions out of deference to you. It's just not a good idea for a board member who has a perspective purchaser or tenant to participate in that interview.

Your comment about "...make sure they give the correct information to the applicant" concerns me. It sounds like you and other board members have differences of opinion about what the subtenant should or should not be told. Your predisposition to approve your own subtenancy could easily color what you say, and this could be of concern to the other board members.

Question #2: Unless specifically stated otherwise in the proprietary lease or bylaws, there is no minimum limit on the number of attendees at a purchaser or subtenant interview. You first wrote the board voted unanimously to reject your tenant. Then you asked if only one board member could interview and then unilaterally make a decision about the tenant. This seems contradictory as to the number of board members involved.

Many boards vote to reject purchasers and subtenants without an interview. This usually occurs if, for example, the board feels a purchaser's financials are not strong enough, there is something unsavory revealed in a background check, the purchaser or subtenant has any sort of diplomatic immunity (impossible to control or evict), things like this.

Most attorneys strongly recommend that the interview be used to meet-and-greet and not as a venue for discovery. Once the purchaser/subtenant and the board meet face to face and if they are rejected, it is much more difficult to defend against charges of discrimination of a protected class.

All in all, it sounds like your board acted appropriately and you simply should have recused yourself from the interview.

Kinda long, but I hope this helps.

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inspections - PC Jun 10, 2017

I live in a cooperative, not in NY. I'd like to know if all cooperatives require to have annual inspections of the units. If it's required by law, what kind of law that is. What is the main purpose. If there are pre-established guidelines. How to avoid overstepping by the person doing the inspection and whether it's legal for this person to carry a camera and take pictures.
Thank you.

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I've never heard of coops doing annual inspections, but I would expect there to be something in the bylaws, house rules, etc. stating that it will be done. What are they looking for? Hoarders? Washers/dryers if not permitted? Some localities do house inspections periodically for tax assessment purposes, but the building staff would not be doing that.
In my coop, we provide an 'apartment condition checklist' to be reviewed by the super in the presence of a new owner or renter/sublet to verify that drains drain, faucets are not dripping, lights/outlets work, windows/latches/locks in good repair, etc. Then the necessary parties are advised of any deficiencies. I have thought about having building staff do 'preventative' inspections - check window locks and latches, drain pipes under sinks once a year or so, haven't implemented it.

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Add to all of the above -
Annually a required changing the AC filters and inspection to see legally required detectors are working.

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My co-op does annual inspections. We absolutely have that right. We are looking for hoarders who could cause a safety issue, but we are also looking for people who are hiding things like dishwashers, washers, dryers.

In addition, we are looking for people who might be renting out rooms (looking for room dividers).

Unfortunately, it's a fact that a small percentage of shareholders are dishonest. Their cheating ways jeopardize the financial well being of the co-op, in addition to the safety and security of the shareholders.

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I agree with JG. I've never heard of a board requiring and/or performing any regularly scheduled inspection. As a rule, board members cannot enter an apartment without the shareholder's explicit permission unless they believe an emergency condition exists. Your proprietary lease and house rules should state this, and any exceptions to the rule, such as an annual inspection.

Have you asked the board for the reason they want to perform an inspection? Without an emergency condition existing I believe you have the right to refuse entry. If they insist or demand entry to inspect without documented authority you may need to contact an attorney.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thank you for all the responses.
To JG and Steven 424 I'd like to say that I've only been living at this coop for 3 years and I didn't know much about housing coops when I moved in.
The inspections were already included in the Rules and Regulation, under housekeeping: "Inspections of all units will be done once every eighteen months" "The purpose of the inspection shall be to evaluate conditions which may be hazardous to life, health or safety of the occupants and those in the adjoining units" Of course that could be interpreted differently by different people and I don't know if it happens in your coops but in ours we've had a lot of turnover in terms of Board and Office Managers who are the ones conducting the inspections. Besides the inspections itself, that many members find intrusive, unpleasant and irksome, the failing of the inspection can set up a procedure for eviction. I don't know how many people have been evicted as a result of an inspection but I know cases where they have sent eviction notices.
I would like to ask you if you all belong to the NAHC and if there are other associations. I've read about coops but I'd like to have some support and a way to compare notes in the world of housing cooperatives. I've never got any response to my questions from the NAHC. It's a good thing that I found this forum. Thank you all!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

All of my experience has been with cooperative apartments in NYC. I know there are many different flavors of co-ops and condos in other parts of the country, with many different rules and regulations and customs. You might want to use Google to search for more localized information. If you live in Chicago, try googling "Chicago cooperative apartments" and see what turns up.

To find out more about NYC co-ops and condos, take a look at the Council of NYC Cooperatives and Condominiums here: https://www.cnyc.com/ . This is the main umbrella trade organization representing and advocating for NYC co-ops and condos. If you ask a question on their website someone might be able to recommend a similar organization in your locale.

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It is not legal to take pictures of your place by any means and if they do without your permission I'd talk/contact my lawyer. If your by laws state this requirement you have 2 choices. (1) Try to change it....(2) Sell as ASAP. Now that you have learned this lesson next time read the by laws before you buy and get a lawyer who should have advised you not to buy. Best of Luck

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I find this site very helpful.

http://codes.findlaw.com/ny/business-corporation-law/

Good Luck

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Special Meeting - Queens Jun 07, 2017

What is the next step after you have presented the board with the proper documentation but they ignore your request for a Special Meeting?

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Try this URL. It looks like a good place to start:
http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1448/co-op-or-condo-complaint

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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