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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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Bidets in your building? - Marty Apr 29, 2021

There's been talk of allowing bidets in our co-op. Does anyone have them in their buildings? Can you provide feedback based on your experiences?

Do you need a plumber AND an electrician to install them? I think you do, but I'm not sure.

Do you allow them to any s/h or do you limit them to people who have a medical reason (and can supply documentation) for wanting one?

Do you treat them as a renovation and have the shareholder sign a document agreeing to be responsible for any and all repairs that may result from problems in the future?

If you have them, have you had problems with them or have they worked with few hassles?

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can provide.

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should not be a problem. bidet is very close to being a toilet. Both need a waste pipe and cold water supply, but a bidet additionally needs a hot water supply.
So if you have the floor space in your bathroom, feel free to proceed!
Hope you know how to lay out a floor plan or call a pro.

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When tax abatement credits must be given - DM Apr 26, 2021

By law, credit are supposed to be passed by coops to eligible units within the city's fiscal year when they are given vi a being applied to the coops tax bill.
This is by June 30th of every year. Our coop has been giving them in December - 6 months late.
What can we do about this?

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Try asking your co-op board about the delay. They may have a perfectly valid reason for waiting until the end of the year. For example, most co-ops approve a one-time assessment in the same amount as the abatement so they can recoup the budget shortfall due to the abatement. Your board may believe you're running a surplus, and are waiting until the end of the year to see if they can impose a lower assessment because of the surplus. That would definitely be to your benefit.

Try asking your board first, and let us know what they say.

--- Steve

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> Join the conversation Comments (3)

Hi Steve - I think it does not matter what the Board's reasons are. The cut-off date - legally - is the end of the fiscal year in which the credit was applied to the coop's overall tax bill. That is June 30th of every year. It is the law.

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Hi DM - I understand about the Jun 30th deadline for the credit being applied to the co-op's tax bill, but I've never heard of any deadline for when the abatement must be distributed to shareholders in the form of a maintenance credit.

If you have a link to a website where this is explained I'd appreciate your posting it here. I'd like to read it over and possibly pass it to our MA, who seem blissfully unaware of the deadline's existence.

Thanks!
--- Steve

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Steve - Any manager worth their salt knows this.

It is law that the credit must be given within the fiscal year in which it is applied to the coops tax bill. Ex credit given to coop on July 1 bill then credit to eligible shareholders has to be passed on by June 30th of the next year.
You can Google if you need a link.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Hi DM - I did as you suggested and searched google for a copy of the law requiring the co-op tax abatement be distributed during the fiscal year in which the abatement is applied to the co-op's tax bill. Here is what I found:

"Remember that co-ops are not real property, and the coop corporation receives one property tax bill for the entire building, which it owns. Shareholders have a proprietary lease to occupy their specific apartment, and have shares of stock in the corporation, but are technically tenants of the co-op corporation’s building.

As a result, the managing agent for a co-op will typically receive any tax rebates directly on behalf of all shareholders, and the co-op boards have discretion on how best to distribute the proceeds back to the shareholders."

https://www.hauseit.com/coop-condo-tax-abatement-nyc/

This article seems to be saying that abatement distribution is at the discretion of the co-op board.

Please help me understand where you found the law or administrative code requiring distribution by a certain date, as you stated in your last message.

Thanks!
--- Steve

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Check the law and check with the city. On the Coop annual Tax Property Benefit letter, the city states it must be credited to eligible individuals immediately which has been interpreted to mean by the end of that fiscal year which is June 30th. I am correct about this. They do NOT have the discretion to grant it after that.

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Hi DM - I went right to the source and read the CO-OP TAX BENEFITS LETTER we received from the DOF. The salient part which I believe you are referring to, states:

"By law, managing agents/coop boards must credit the unit(s) with the benefit amount listed on the enclosed report once it is received. Credits are calculated using the tax rate for the applicable tax year. This report reflects sales or transfers that occurred on or before January 5th of this calendar year. We must receive this form by February 15, 2020."

There's a big difference between "...must credit the unit(s) once the report is received..." and "must immediately credit the unit(s) by a certain date..." There's no need for absolute urgency stated or implied anywhere in the letter.

I'm not trying to give you a hard time here. Your original statement about distributing the abatement credits by a certain date piqued my curiosity because I hadn't heard it before. I'd like to check the law, which is why I asked you for a link to the parts of the law that support your interpretations. If you could post the URL in this thread, we'll all benefit from your research.

--- Steve

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I did not post so you could punch holes in my email.
I am correct - the coop must credit the eligible units by the end of the city fiscal year in which the credit is applied to the coop's tax bill.
. End of story.
The QUESTION was is what do we do when they disregard the law and delay the credit by 6 months or more each year?
Attorney General's office?

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

DM - I've been reading the back and forth responses between you and Steven424.

I can see that you're frustrated by your co-op's inaction. You asked what can you do about the situation. Steven suggested that you speak to your Board and ask them why there is a delay.

Your response to his suggestion is it doesn't matter what the Board's reasons are. Okay. You asked for suggestions, Steven gave you one, and you didn't like it.

He's trying to help. You've been on this site before. You know that Steven is very thorough and tries to understand the situation BEFORE offering any advice.

Don't get angry with him for asking questions and doing research so he can try to help you. Steven is not the type of person to try and punch holes in anyone's email. He genuinely tries to help people and has done so for years on this website, including me.

You might try contacting the DOF and ask them for their interpretation of the law. It couldn't hurt.

I do agree with him that you should contact your Board, but I'd also add that you should do it in writing, thus creating a paper trail. If the Board refuses to answer or gives you an answer that doesn't satisfactorily answer your question, you could then email the co-op's attorney to ask him/her for their opinion.

Good luck.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

DM this is a forum to help people who can not get answers or who has a question. I also have been reading this back and forth and I give Steven credit for trying to help you. It's seems you really don't want answers to your question. I do feel that you need this abatement money so badly and refuse to go to your managing agent or board for an answer. What ever your reason is. But don't take things out on Steven for going out of his way and researching an answer for you. Just say Thank you and move on Best of Luck

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DM/DP
This is a wonderful site where people freely help each other by sharing their experience and knowledge. I have benefited many times from the responses I have received on this forum and greatly appreciate any and all advice I have received. Apparently you have many issues with your Co-Op board and how your building is run. Your constantly request for " Informed and knowledgeable responses only" is quite annoying and somewhat insulting. Basically what you want is free legal advice and you tend to get snarky if you do not agree with or like the response you receive. Here is some knowledgeable, informed advice...Move.., BTW, there are no units in my Co-op. Steve424, remember Connie? Can you work you magic again? :-). Please no need for a response.

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Hi all, I do appreciate Steve's time but he did nit-pick at my use of the word "immediate." Which I did not feel was nice. The overall idea I here to help each other with information and my question was posted with that intent.

The question is not 'why' does a coop choose to pay late illegally. The question is what can people do - what recourses do we have when the law is broke in regards to this? Does anyone know?

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DM- Love the idea of you relocating to another building or better yet join the board.
Maybe you need to educate yourself being you can't take constructive advice. MOVE ON!

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DM/DP,
You might as well stop asking the question. I think your time for advice on this site has expired. I can't imagine anyone who would want to help you after this despicable and childish display. Contact the D.O.F. with hour questions unless they are no longer responding to you.

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Stop now, please. You are being negative and repetitive.
It is basically now just spam.


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DM/DP
You are delusional. I wish I had as much knowledge as People's Choice. Now please take an aspirin and go lie down. You are stating to frighten me.

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Construction company - Vicky Apr 17, 2021

We'd like to know your experience with Standard Construction Corp located in Brooklyn for their quality work and competitive price.

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Boiler Mechanic Needed - Badly! - REAPLLC Apr 12, 2021

It seems the real automotive, boiler and HVAC mechanics have gone my the wayside... I am looking for a recommendation for a good gas/oil boiler mechanic.

Someone who knows how to repaid a burner rather than just place a computer on it and tell you to replace parts as part of his troubleshooting process..

Added info: I currently use the service provided as part of contract with my fuel provider... new guy every time there's an issue and every one has a different opinion and no one takes the time to actually troubleshoot, diagnose and repair.. or at least see what the last 5 guys did to get a history!

If you have a good recommendation, please drop one here!

Thanks in advance
~AR

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Cell phone roof towers - pros/cons - Marty Apr 06, 2021

We are a 6 story building that's been approached by DISH Wireless to install 6 antennas on our roof, in addition to needing 100 sg ft for equipment. Does anyone have experience with DISH and/or these towers and know the answers to the following questions that can affect shareholders (s/h)?

Did you notify all s/h prior to the lease and/or take a survey to see if the s/h wanted it, or did you just leave it to the Board?
Are they noisy (humming noise perhaps) and possibly bother the people on the top floor? Any noise complaints from s/h?
Does their weight adversely affect the roof, possibly making it easier for the roof to leak?
Must the roof be checked out beforehand by a engineer to make sure it's sturdy enough to bear the extra weight?
Do they have any negative effect on parking lot remotes?
Have shareholders complained of feeling sick/nauseous, especially those people on the top floor?
If you do have the towers, have you had an overall good experience and do you feel its been worthwhile?

We want to make an informed decision, so any information/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any help.

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We have had them for about 15 years with no issues. The company should pay for your engineer to review its plans.

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MissP,

Thank you very much for your input. Just curious - did you ask your s/h their opinion about the towers before you installed them? Thanks.

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No. But when we reported there were no questions of concerns from owners. Interestingly, a few people who have since bought without thinking about them have suddenly become very concerned! If they were that upset about it, you'd think they would ask before buying. Provide info -- the only place that there can be a danger is in front of the towers and they face out (and 180 feet up).

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Thanks again Miss P!

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We do not have towers on my building, but two points come to mind...

* Notify your co-op insurance company of the proposed installation. There may be something in your policy that affects or may be affected by the installation, and that may cause your premiums to go up. At the very minimum, your insurance company should review the contract before you sign to make sure you are adequately protected, and they review any insurance the tower company says they will carry.

* Have your co-op attorney review the contract for all the obvious stuff, and to make sure you are getting a fair financial deal.

You've probably already considered these, but I wanted to get them out there.

--- Steve

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Steven,

Now I'm on the receiving end of your sound advice. Thank you very much!

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Very glad to help, as I have learned from you as well.

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I have them in 1 building and negotiating in 2 others right now...
The service is different from their usual model and the new setups are strictly for a new 5G cell service initiative they are launching.

Its a Board decision in most Coops, but if its the first provider on the roof, you may want to put it out to the building out of courtesy.

Thigs to consider are
~Will they build their own deck? How and where is this mounted? Does it affect a roof warranty or maintenance? Make sure they take responsibility to move it ASAP should you need.
~ Where is the electric coming from? Who's paying, Are they installing a meter? Where? Where will the feeder line run?
~It's 5G, so there is signal bleed... Have them provide and RF safety report showing that the signal bleed into the building, residential and public are well within FCC safety recommendations. - This will limit Board liability later.
~Do not permit the 5 automatic renewable terms they ask for... it's a long commitment and you will not be able to renegotiate for many years. Sign off for 5+5 or 10 with option at your discretion.
~everything is negotiable so read the contract and have your building Atty review it and ensure it fits what you are willing to accept with regard to installation, time, ongoing access, and compensation.

~AR

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REAPLLC,

Thanks very much for this information!

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Tax Abatement - marym Apr 02, 2021

If a shareholder bought an apartment in December 2019, who gets the tax abatement for the 2019/2020 tax year?

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If you purchased on or before January 5, 2020
from an eligible shareholder/unit owner, you should receive the tax abatement for the July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 New York City (NYC) tax year. Therefore, if you purchased on or after January 5, 2020, then you will
first be eligible for abatement credits during the July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022 fiscal year.

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Regardless of any fine points of law or regulation, to me the ethical answer is, whoever pays the co-op assessment deserves the abatement. Most co-ops debit the assessment in the same month they credit the abatement, so it becomes a wash for whoever is the owner of record at the time of the transaction.

I'm still trying to figure out why the is even an issue.

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If you don't know the correct answer pls it is confusing when you post.

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Fair enough, DM. :-)

In almost every instance, the annual abatement is distributed to shareholders in the form of a credit against what is due for monthly maintenance. Unless there is wording to the contrary in the sales contract, whoever owns the stock certificate when the credit is issued receives the benefit of the abatement.

By itself, the benefit from the abatement follows stock ownership and does not stay vested with the seller after the stock transfer. If the issue was addressed in the contract of sale, both parties are bound by the terms of the contract.

Is there anything in your contract of sale or its riders that address the abatement? If not, the current owner of the co-op's stock is entitled to the reduction in maintenance provided by the abatement credit.

Here's what the NYC DOF has to say on the matter
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/landlords-coop-condo.page#require

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What kind of supers do you hire? - Deny Mar 13, 2021

Do they know everything about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction. But lacks communication skills, leadership skills?

Or are you more open-minded to hiring someone who is passionate, who is continually developing himself, who has a great personality and communication skills? But knows only basic things about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction.

If you had to pick one, which one would it be?

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All of the above

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While both hard and soft skills are important, I would put greater emphasis on soft skills like being passionate, continually developing himself, and has a great personality and communication skills, rather than knows everything about electricity, plumbing, heating systems, and construction.

Why? Because you can almost always hire qualified contractors to handle the tasks requiring hard skills. And if you find you're constantly in need of a plumber, electrician, carpenter, either your building is falling apart or you live in a very big building. In the extreme, you can hire a dedicated handyman.

Executive functioning and interpersonal skills are a 24x7x365 requirement. The super is your intermediary between your board and your shareholders. Without good communication flow and diplomatic demeanor, even the most talented technician will be ineffective.

My building is looking for a new super. This is what we've learned from all the candidates we've interviewed and given trial runs, and the feedback from our shareholders who've had interactions with the candidates.

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I am currently interviewing for a super for a particular site. I am seeking all the required skill sets, but above that, passion, conscientiousness and aptitude.
I can train you to repair a boiler, fix a simple electrical or plumbing repair, but I cannot train you to care, to be passionate about your job and building, and I cannot give you the aptitude to adapt.. so these are more important...
I use a few simple tricks to gauge this.. mostly for the in person interview portion... I leave a pencil or small piece of trash on the floor in the office and when greeting them, advise to go right on in and have a seat.. Ill be right with you.. then I step away for a moment and take notice.. did the see it? Did they pick it up? Did they leave it on the floor and step around it?
The conscientious ones will pick it up and either hold it, put it in the trash or on the table... then I continue the interview...

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building insurance wants to do a patch work job restoring water damaged unit - syl Mar 02, 2021

Upstairs neighbor's leak into my unit made my unit uninhabitable. After 4 months, the building is taking responsibility for their ceilings, walls and floors. They will replace missing bathroom wall tiles and parquet floor tiles but after 60 years the replacements will not match what the remaining tiles. I was told the insurance company doesnt care if it doesnt match. My coop will look terrible.

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Unfortunately, this is a fairly common problem. It is generally impossible to find tiles that match perfectly because the style and color of the original tile probably doesn't exist anymore, especially if the original tile is 60 years old (if I interpreted your summary correctly).

My understanding is that the co-op has to restore your tile to its original condition (i.e. new tiles). That doesn't mean the same exact color and style.

If you want to re-tile your bathroom so that it matches perfectly, the co-op is not responsible for paying for it. You would have to pay for it out of your own pocket or better yet, file an insurance claim against the apartment upstairs that caused the problem.

Good luck.

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This happened to me so this is what I did.

(1) Take pictures of all water damage
(2) Contact your insurance company (ASAP) they will send an inspector to your apartment.
My insurance carrier set me up in a hotel while the work was being done.
They took full charge hired a contractor and had me pick out the damage materials with the contractor.
In turn they sued the apartment above me. In your case they will sue your building insurance company and your neighbor.
Best of Luck

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Adding to the advice Marty provided, something you might try is negotiating with the insurance company is their laying out the same amount they would pay to repair your floors towards resurfacing the entire floor. The rest of the cost would be out of your pocket. Different insurance companies have different rules, but this might reduce your overall cost if you decide to lay down a whole new floor.

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masks - DP Feb 24, 2021

Knowledgeable replies requested:

I'm fed up with the managing agents of my coop repeating "We can't FORCE someone to wear a mask." I reply, "I understand" (although I really don't, but that's another story). So I beg them to post more stringent signs, even with little chance of enforcement. But I'm wondering if anyone's seen up-to-date (as in Feb. 2021) legal requirements for mask-wearing in apartment (e.g. coop) buildings.

Thank you.

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Hi! If you want a legal opinion about a legal requirement, I suggest you contact an attorney.

AFAIK, no contributor in this forum is a lawyer. So as for knowledgeable replies, remember that any legal advice you receive here is worth what you paid for it. The same goes for any articles a response might link to unless written by an attorney.

Not trying to be flippant or sarcastic, just trying to levelset your reliance on any legal or quasi-legal advice anyone provides.

Good luck!
--- Steve

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Hi Steven424,

I ask on this forum in general b/c I have no funds to consult a lawyer. I always ask for "knowledgeable replies," b/c when I first joined this group I read a lot of semi-literate rambling and bitching and moaning, and wasn't looking for that.

I researched my question as best I could before posting here; not having found what I was looking for, I turned to this community for additional insight anyone might have.

I'm fully aware that people here aren't lawyers. If you reread my question, you'll see that I wasn't asking for a legal opinion or legal advice, even though my question included the word "legal." I was asking if anyone had come across very recent articles on the rapidly evolving legalities related to this topic. My thoughts included: Maybe there's a board member, or a building manager, or a politico, with more up-to-date info than what I could find. Or maybe there's another shareholder who had researched this same thing.

If you couldn't answer, that's fine; then no answer was necessary.

What I wasn't looking for, however, was to be "reminded" of who & what is here & that you get what you pay for. Maybe this will sound defensive to you, but I found that a bit insulting. I don't need to have my expectations managed. But thanks.

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You're welcome, and no offense taken. :-)

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Steve, Thanks for saying what I have been thinking. :-)

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Unless the building itself has a BL or HR (and the ability to write that rule) that requires adherence to the CDC recommended guidelines and/or executive orders concerning masks, it is not enforceable, by action, by and through management or the BOD.

~AR

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I reviewed some Habitat articles as well as several NYT articles, including the Ask Real Estate column. Several attorneys chimed in with the general feeling that it would hard to enforce. They felt that you could try fining people, but their opinion is that the fines would likely not be upheld in court.

It's such a new topic that it's still a very gray area. There are really no definitive laws or decisions on the books, meaning that we can ask shareholders to wear masks, but we probably can't force them to do so.

My experience has been that the overwhelming majority of people in our co-op are wearing masks. Of course, very few things in life get 100% compliance, so this is no different.

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Hi Marty, That's what i figured, but again, was hoping that perhaps (especially with new strains now appearing in NYC) something changed very recently... along the lines, for example, of how the governor allowed corporations in NYS to legally hold meetings via Zoom (and then continued to extend his original deadline).

You're lucky that you seem to live in a compliant building with caring, intelligent neighbors. Unfortunately, I seem to be surrounded by jackasses who will not, do not, wear masks in common areas (including in our very small elevator that has no ventilation).

Thanks.

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Sorry, I don't know the jargon "BL" or "HR," but thank you. I was fairly certain it wasn't enforceable, but I was hoping to hear something very recent to the contrary. ; ((

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I find it sad your managing agent feels it's not necessary to post a must wear masks and maintain safe distances. NYers still are wearing masks and so should your building. They know they can not enter a store or work place without a wearing a mask. The virus is very much alive.
Have you sent a letter to the board voicing your concerns that mask wearing is a must and 2 people in the elevated with mask should be worn?
I don't think anyone would want to die or get the virus.
If you live in NY call 311 and tell them what is going on in your building and you are afraid. They will advise you or report and fine your building. Best of Luck

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Non-Responsive Management Company or Board - Amer Feb 20, 2021

Hello All;

I am seeking some advice regarding a situation that has stumped me as a potential buyer of a coop unit in Queens.

Me and my wife are under contract to purchase a coop as our primary residence. Our mortgage is approved and the customary board package was submitted, after being duly reviewed by both real estate agents, in early October 2020.

By way of background, I am a bank employee and my wife is a self-employed attorney who fully owns her own legal practice. Our credit scores are excellent and we've had no issue securing a mortgage. However, between the two of us, we do own 9 investment properties, including a coop we rent out in Queens. Anticipating an issue, we included a very detailed analysis of our debt-to-income ratios in our board package which also had the customary tax returns etc. etc.

It has been over 4 months and the board has yet to grant us an interview. Initially, the management company didn't even pull our credit and ask for any information. However, in mid January, they would occasionally ask a question, say every two to three weeks. It is clear from the little communication that we've had with them that they are stumped by my wife's self-employed income. We've re-submitted portions of tax returns highlighting her income along with a Profit and Loss statement and a letter from our CPA. We have also offered to meet (via Zoom or in person or over the phone) with the board or the management company to explain our financials which are very strong. However, there has been no response. We haven't been declined either but the occasional message from the management company is that they are still analyzing our financials.

To make matters more puzzling, the sellers have also been calling the management company and have received no response.

This is a major coop in Queens, which I would rather not name, and I doubt that they have never seen a self-employed purchase applicant befpre

There is no way for us to know if the management company is stalling or is it the board. There have been other sales in the coop since October. Our frustration is that even if the board or the management company is not clear about our finances, they should simply grant us an interview and ask us questions and then make a decision. Or the management company can just talk to us.

As long time coop owner and the president of my own little coop (though that is irrelevant), I know this situation is not typical. Any ideas on how to move this forward? Apologies for the long post and thank you for your advice.

Amer

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I think the Board should have made a decision after all this time. Whether it's yes or no, they should have contacted you. Even if you have a somewhat detailed and complicated application, 4 months is enough time to decide.

I would not grant you an interview until a decision has been made about your finances. It sounds like this is what's happening to you.

I can imagine why they might have possible reservations. I would also keep in mind that the pandemic probably heightens their worries given the potential economic impact on all businesses that exists right now and may exist for years to come.

- I'll assume that your earnings are steady. Anyone with self earnings will cause concern for the co-op. Has your wife had a steady income during her years of self employment? If it has not been steady, they may be worried about her future earnings.

- Without knowing anything other than what you've told us, I think your 9 investment properties could be raising potential red flags. I assume you have financial obligations on most if not all 9 properties.

The co-op may be worried that with the economy being so unreliable these days, they may wonder what happens in the worst case scenario, where most or perhaps all of your investment properties lose their income and you still have your financial obligations. They are surely asking "How would that situation affect you, your wife, and all co-op shareholders in the worst case scenario?"

As the President of your own co-op, I'm sure you can understand the potential pitfalls of your application.

Having said that, 4 months is enough time. If they won't grant you an interview, then it's probably time to move on to another co-op.

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Marty;

Thank you for your very detailed and insightful comments.

I can now see why we might not have been interviewed yet. Though why the management company/board doesn't ask for information to make a decision is beyond me.

My wife's earnings have actually been increasing and our ratios are still pretty good even if you eliminate the rental income from all the investment properties. I also plan to sell our present coop apartment once the purchase is completed.

From another perspective, it's a good sign that we really haven't been declined yet.

Thank you, again. Your comments were very helpful.

Regards,

Amer

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We review and approve in a matter of a week or so at the longest. You have a really lame board that you are dealing with.
And your misery has just begun if you follow thru with this purchase.
I'd get out while the getting is good.

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