HABITAT

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baby strollers - Michael Apr 25, 2017

Hello. One of my neighbors has decided to leave a baby stroller permanently in the small entrance to my building. This is against the by-laws that state nothing is to be left in the common areas. This is not a case of the stroller being left for a day or two. It is permanently there. I have spoken to management as well as the board. They said they would speak to the neighbor. What transpired after that is that the neighbor tracked me down on facebook and sent me a nasty letter saying it's none of my business and that I better drop it. Management never followed up with me and neither has the board. Now I have an enemy in my building and I'm stressed out every time I come and go. I want the common areas clutter free. After living in rentals for 20 years with dusty, dirty hallways, I was looking forward to a building that was well maintained and managed - and paid for with my common charges. Oh and before the stroller, the same neighbors permanently parked their other kids bikes and scooters in the place where the stroller now is. So this has gone on for years. I'm considering talking to an attorney because the by-laws are not being upheld - and I've been harassed by the neighbor.

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Yearly Maintenance Increases? - BBCA Apr 17, 2017

As long as I can remember, my coop board has increased our maintainance every year. Increases have ranged from 1% to almost 3% each year? Is this normal?

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Absolutely normal. In fact, below normal and the sign of a fiscally well-managed co-op corporation.

Inflation is currently running between 1.5% and 2%. Simply for that reason alone maintenance needs to increase 1.5% to 2% just to break even with the costs of monthly co-op operations.

One of the biggest drivers of maintenance increases is the annual increase in real estate taxes. In our building these taxes are over 40% of our annual maintenance. We're looking at a 7% tax increase for TY'18, which translates to a 3% maintenance increase.

Sometimes you hear how a board prides itself on "never" increasing maintenance. Show me a board that does that for too long and I'll show you a co-op that is facing a huge assessment, eventual 10% to 20% maintenance increases, or a building about to go bankrupt.

From what you wrote, consider yourself lucky to be living in a building with good governance.

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Some of the things your maintainance has to cover are Labor contracts which have clauses the escalate annually, real estate taxes which seem to go up yearly, the cost of water has almost tripled in the last 10 years, along with other utilities and service contracts. So is it normal? I would say yes.
That said you should receive an audited financial statement, have a good look at the fixed costs

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A Well managed board would look around and find ways to raise money, this is called Amenities. Do you or can your building have cell phone towers? If not find out if it can, this will be rented out for the use of them. It pays big. Does your building have storage? If not this can be a good Amenity just look around or in basement area for bike storage baby carriages anything that can charge a fee. To help your building make money for fixing up your building.
Does your co op have parking/garage this is a big Amenity, Does your co op rent the laundry room to the company are they paying rent for the laundry room rent for the rooms they have to pay the co ops. Look into all of these AMENITIES it's extremely your co op raises extra money to have a lower maintenance. By making your co op with low maintenance you'll get top dollar if you decide to sell. Read the report that you will be receiving very soon.

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PC #1, I must respectfully disagree. What you are describing does not help a building make money. It is simply a zero-sum proposition which shifts financial responsibility away from being equitably distributed among all shareholders and onto the backs of those shareholders who either need or desire the "amenities", as you call them.

The model you described is identical to what the airlines have been doing for years; keeping constant or reducing the cost of an actual flight ticket, but making up the lost revenue in all sorts of nuisance fees. This has not proven to be a very popular scheme for the airlines and I feel sorry the board that adopts it.

The other shortcoming of the amenity-fee concept is a co-op or condo must have a guaranteed stream of income to meet its financial obligations. Increasing maintenance by a small amount each year insures a steady flow of money because maintenance is non-discretionary for the shareholders.

Charging fees for amenities is risky because amenities *are* discretionary expenses. If enough shareholders decide the value of an amenity is not worth the cost, they'll simply not pay for it. The co-op loses the income, and generates ill-will in the process.

Most co-op and condo buyers (or their attorneys) today are sophisticated enough to see through the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul financing model and look at the entire financial environment. Not raising maintenance (unless there are solid extenuating circumstances like the 2008-2009 recession) is a clear warning sign that the building is heading towards financial problems in the future.

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I agree with Steven424. Other than possible income from cell towers, the other suggested charges are negligible in a building budget, that may be well in excess of $500k for a 50 unit building. Cell towers may be lucrative, but the owners in our building voted it down years ago due to health concerns, whether founded or not.
Annual or maybe every other year increases are needed to keep up with inflation. An alternative is to have increasing assessments to cover costs. Our owners voted to freeze the maintenance last year and to increase the annual assessment. We offset the assessments with the coop tax credits and STAR so we still need to pull some $ from our pockets each year. We'll see how that goes for a couple years.
Amenities such as bike storage save the hallways and elevators from damage and storage lockers are an obvious convenience, if space is available. Laundry facilities are great and will provide a steady but small revenue stream as well. Usually, the gas, water and electric are provided by the building, which will offset the rent collected.

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With increasing maintenance at that rate your value of your co-op/condo apartments will not sell if you charge let's say $700.00 a month with no Amenities and it keeps on going up why should I stay, or buy into your place when others give gyms,storage,off the street parking and monthly maintenance is low with a well maintained clean building and great workers. Real Estate can go down it's hard to sell at a high maintenance and pay a mortgage. So how's it going for you? I guess you can afford to keep carrying this high cost of living. Some share holders can't. Be careful of foreclosure. Then how would your building handle this? It's call maintenance, not rent that applies to Amenities.

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I'm curious. What is the monthly maintenance of the building you described which has a gym, storage, off-street parking, and what is its location. I, personally, wouldn't use any of those three amenities, so I guess I'd be a slacker in contributing to the finances.

What would your co-op do if, say, the cost of doing laundry or storing strollers and bikes became so high (because co-op operating expenses have a nasty habit of increasing all the time so the amenity prices would also have to increase), that shareholders decide they'd rather use the corner laundromat or store their bikes in their apartments. You can't hold a gun to their heads to pay for amenities. Where would the money come from to cover required co-op expenses?

PC #1, I have a question I've been meaning to ask. In your April 18th post you mentioned a report we'd be receiving shortly. When do you think it will be published and we'll be receiving it? As an eight year board treasurer I'm always interested in reading about new and creative ways of reducing maintenance.

Thanks!

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Steven eight year board treasurer congratulations, but with due respect. It's not about You. It's about the share holders /condo owners that want and need these. Not what you need to over ride them. I can't make you look around your place to make it better or improve it. The place you live at are they happy? What do they want? Or are they angry or upset?
Like I said with due respect, It's Not About You.
I'm speaking from being on the board 18 yrs. The key is Listen. If you need to know all my personal info. your not doing your building a service. Your the eight year board treasurer look at the books, figure out how you can reduce cost. Just saying, I don't want to tell you how to do your job. I know it's hard.

Thanks

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It is really about examining every single cost for tightening. Your insurance can be negotiated, your energy consumption can always be reduced - where else is money leaking? Are you wasting money/ increasing the debt on non- discretionary projects?
Don't take 'this is how it is' for an answer from your managing agent - make them show you savings. Be pro-active. Do not drink the cool-aide. Sit down and do the work.
We have NOT had a mntnce increase every single year in our Manhattan cooperative.

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DM - All boards, and especially their treasurers, should be doing what you recommend as a matter of course, year after year after year. Any board that cedes all cost reduction responsibilities to their managing agent is not working for the benefit of their co-op.

I have a question for you. How do you cover non-discretionary increases like real estate taxes, staff salary and benefits, water & sewage fees, etc. What do you do to pay for the increases instead of increasing maintenance?

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Exactly, and that is the spirit in which I was asking.

As board treasurer I am the most familiar with my Co-op's finances. We are located in an area of Brooklyn that has seen extraordinary real estate tax increases in the past few years, even with aggressive Certiorari challenges. So any suggestions of ways I can advise my board to keep maintenance as steady as possible is something that grabs my attention.

To answer your question, our shareholders are, for the most part, happy and content with the way the building is being managed by the board. Of course they grouse about maintenance increases, but we are completely open and honest about building finances. We make sure shareholders fully understand the reasons for any increases.

They also appreciate our trying to fairly distribute the Co-op's financial burden among all shareholders. For example, we have ample space in our basement for storage cages. A number of years ago we built enough cages so every apartment can have at least one, with some left over. We sold the cages, one to an apartment, at cost, because the board believed additional storage is more a necessity than an amenity. We limited ownership to one cage per apartment so no individual shareholder could buy up all the cages and corner the market.

We rent all unsold cages at $35/month. Rentals come with the understanding that if an apartment that does not already own a cage decides they want to purchase one, the Co-op has the right to terminate a rental (LIFO) with six months notice. We felt this was the most fair and equitable way of eventually making permanent storage space available to *every* shareholders. We did not feel it was fair to charge hundreds of dollars per month for cages, because community goodwill is very important to us. If a shareholder requires a cage, their rental fees should not be used to subsidize other shareholders, and we try to prevent the less affluent in our community from having to do without because they can't afford it.

I'm not interested in any personal info. Since you were suggesting charging for amenities as a way of offsetting maintenance increases, I thought your particular situation might serve as a good example of how this works in practice.

So thanks in advance for any additional info you care to share.

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3 month wait, no word about interview - Craig Apr 11, 2017

I turned in a beautiful board package for a large downtown Manhattan Coop 3 months ago. It is a CASH purchase. There is nothing unusual in the packet. I have a beautiful credit history, a great job, a lot of money left over after the purchase. I have yet to hear from the board. I am thinking this is unfair and am wondering how unusual this is and would appreciate any advice on how to proceed.

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Three month *is* a long time to wait, but there may be extenuating circumstances. Have you discussed this with the real estate broker who made the sale? They and the purchaser should be as eager as you are to move the sale to closing. You might ask your attorney who is handling the legal aspects of the transaction if she/he has any insight into the delay or if she/he can make any sort of inquiry.

Unfortunately there is a scenario which might be in play here. If the seller received a higher offer after you went into contract, they might be trying to have the board stall and ultimately reject you as a purchaser. That would be a "clean" (although highly unethical and quasi-illegal) way to terminate the contract. Unethical boards would see it to their advantage to have the apartment go for the highest price possible because it becomes a comparable and enhances the value of all future sales in the building.

Lets think positive for now. The board could be grappling with an urgent internal matter that leaves little time for them to review your financial package and schedule the interview. Key members of the board may be unavoidably unavailable. There may be other sales in front of yours and they review them in first-in, first-out order. The board may have a collective over-sized sense of self-importance which they like to flex in front of a powerless purchaser, and in the end you'll be approved. It may simply be that this board drags its feet, and every purchaser in the building gets the same treatment.

Your attorney should be aware of the delay, so talk with her/him about it. I'm hoping that what they tell you will put your mind at ease.

Good luck!

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It's too bad, it SO frustrating. I can't believe that there is no culpability to for this? The CO-OP board and its agents can just keep me hanging forever? I was supposed to close "on or about 30 days" from the signing of the contract. It's now 90 days.

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Please call the real estate company you signed the contract with see what they say. If they tell you they are waiting for an interview or approval I would start thinking about how this board is operating. If they are so lacked about interviewing you who knows how they run the board & building. Going by my experience it doesn't take this long for approval after the managing agent looks through your package and financials and sends it to the board. Good luck.

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in nys are coop apartments considered owning real estate? - coop fire Apr 08, 2017

a neighbor filling out a form for assistance had this question on it, do you own real estate or have you owner real estate.
i know cooperatives are considered personal property like stocks and not real property , has ther been a change?

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First, I am not a lawyer. In this instance where someone is applying for assistance and many thousands of dollars may be at stake, I strongly urge you to tell your neighbor she/he needs to contact an attorney who specializes in the type of assistance they are applying for (disability, medicaid, SSI, etc).

Practically, it depends on who is asking the question and for what purpose. Here are some links that show how difficult it is to provide a one-size-fits-all answer:
https://nystax.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/3470/~/are-co-ops-considered-real-property%3F
https://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Is_buying_a_coop_apt_considered_as_a_real_estate_-56169
http://www.mcgrathesq.com/2014/08/18/coop-real-or-personal-property/

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ownership of land coop is built on? - coop fire Apr 07, 2017

who owns the land the cooperative is built on? I assumed that the cooperative did , but i have heard from board members that this is not the case. If the land is not owned by the shareholders/coop is this universal and if it is an outlier, where in the proprietary lease would it detail the non-ownership of land.

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Some coops lease, rather than own, the land beneath their building. In NYC, there are several dozen "land-lease" coops (also sometimes called "ground-lease" coops). The leases are for very long terms (i.e., 99 years or more), but they can pose special issues for the coop and its shareholders from time to time. If you want to email me your address offline, I can probably tell you if your coop leases the land. bdockwell@morrisoncohen.com

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I would think the financial statements and proprietary lease would have to disclose that information. If there is a land lease, wouldn't that be an annual expense? At the end of the term of the lease, I would there would be some options stated, such as an option to extend, purchase the land, etc.
On a related note, the coops that I've seen issue a proprietary lease, usually for 99 years. Since many were formed in the 70's and 80's, we haven't seen what happens yet as those dates approach.

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There are a *lot* of articles available online about the pros and cons of owning an apartment in a ground lease building. Some pro, mostly con. I put "NYC co-op ground lease" into Google and it returned pages and pages.

You might be able to use the Dept of Buildings websiet to determine if your building has a ground lease. Go to this URL: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/index.page and enter your building number and street. It returns a lot of information.

Good luck.

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Date the tax abatement must be distributed to shareholders by - DM Mar 26, 2017

Does anyone know the date by which the annual tax abatement must be distributed do shareholders in a coop? I have heard it is by the end of the fiscal year (aka June.) If you have a link that would be great. Thanks!

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I found this quote online:

"Distribution of Abatements in Co-ops. The law requires that the tax year 2012/2013 abatement distributions be credited to owners “when received.”11 Historically, although no deadline is stated in the statute, the Finance Department has interpreted this language to mean that the credit must be issued to owners by the last day of the city’s tax year for which it was credited to the co-op’s tax bill. In previous years, the Finance Department issued Break Down Letters in November, which allowed co-op managers to distribute the credit within the remaining months of the city tax year, which ends June 30."

You can read the entire document (from a well-known real estate law firm) here: www.stroock.com/siteFiles/Pub1336.pdf Last page, middle column.

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Illegal plumbing and electric work by coop board - DM Mar 19, 2017

Hi - Our coop require licensed and insured plumbers to perform work on the premises. However, in order not to spend money, they also sometimes ge the Superintendent to perform in-the-wall plumbing in violation of NYC laws. This has resulted in several instances of sub-par work that created damages and additional costs. However they persist in this. Sometimes (depending on the shareholder - i.e. it it is a board member) they will hire legal plumbers. Can we refuse to allow or permit illegal work be conducted in our apartments - work that creates possible liability for neighbor's and may also not be covered by our own insurance or the coop's insurance? Can we require the coop to send a legal plumber as per city laws and coop rules when it is work that they must perform? Please only reply if you know 100%. Thanks!

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Please do not take this as sarcastic or flippant, but if you want a 100% guaranteed accurate answer, consult a practicing attorney.

Good luck

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I agree with Steven's comment.

However, I might also suggest contacting the co-op's attorney and telling him/her that the co-op is trying to do work that requires licensed plumbers, and the co-op is not following that rule.

You might suggest to the attorney that they contact the Board and advise them that their actions are exposing the co-op to a multitude of potential legal and financial problems.

That might make the Board reconsider its positions and actions.

Good luck.

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I am not an attorney, I am a shareholder that went through a similar situation with our superintendent, the board of directors and the managing agent.
There was a leak from my bathroom toilet to the bathroom below, which happens to be occupied by a board member. The managing agent wanted to send the super to remove my toilet and perhaps replace the wax seal or the pipe. I refused to have the super touch the project as he is total unqualified (I have asked to see his certificates in the past, but they refuse to show me) and I have photos of what he has repaired throughout the building and my apartment from the past, VERY UNPROFESSIONAL. I wrote a professional letter with photos to the managing agent, and the board member who's apartment was being effected by the leak below explaining why the super was unqualified and that I would not allow him in my apartment to do the repairs. I demanded that they hire a licensed plumber. Within a day, they had a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe under the toilet.
If you can back up your request with justifiable reasoning, fight for what you believe is right and don't back down.

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Deborah you are lucky that you were able to reason with them. The board and MA here are not approachable or reasonable. When I complained to the board pres about the constant renovations by the super he told me "If you don't like it you can leave. I had only been here one year, moving is not free, and I thought that the board would handle things. Very happy with that after caring for a home for over 15 years on my own. Just recently the super tried to charge me a $20 lock out fee. I told him I had no cash would he take a check? No he replied slide it under the door when you get the cash. I became suspicious and called the MA. I asked her what the lock out policy was. Her response "why Mary were you locked out? I asked her to refrain from an investigation and just answer the question. Well she did not know, so I asked her to look it up and foward the document to me. Well it turns out there is no lock out fee. No apology that the super tried to scam me. Then I informed the president of what occurred, I told him of another shareholder who fell for it. He did not bother to ask who and will most likely say the conversation never happened. But if the super is scamming people it is the boards responsibility to notify them of this transgression. There has been no attempt on their part to do this and I doubt they will. Instead they like to make up stories that I am crazy. This is only a small piece of this horrific story.
I do not believe the board in my building is acting in good faith. They are self serving, dishonest, and hostile. I have to move, that is the only real answer. The shareholders are univolved and apathetic. As long as it is not happening to them, they see no reason to intervene.
If feel like Kitty Genovese only the co-op version. I keep calling for help but they don't want to be involved, they figure someone else will help. So far no takers. You wouldn't believe what I have been through. And it's because it is really just unbelievable, but unfortunately true. I have the documents and recording to prove every word I have said here. But no one cares about the facts.... Kinda like a lynch mob. The place is leaking like a sieve from the former supers repairs, yet it is business as usual. I had a nice elderly gentleman neighbor who just passed away. But not before they could flood him one more time in the last months of his life. They probably expodided his demise, yet they continue business as usual. This is one motley crew and no advise is going to change them. I don't mean to be rude but there is no civility here. I just need to get out before they put me in an early grave.

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The former super drilled 2 holes in the wall of the bathroom above me for the specific purpose of flooding me. I have the photos so there is no disputing this fact. The president/treasurer uses my upstairs neighbor as a booty call. She calls it love but I see it for what it is. She refused to provide her insurance information and that was ok with him and the rest of the board. I told him that if he wanted to know the truth he should speak with the plumber. His reply was very nasty. Does not like facts..... Enjoys power. Oh and what about the time I found board meeting info in the paper garbage, it had all of my financial information in it, bank accounts, matching credit cards, and social security numbers. I never received any apology for that either. He did curse me out the other day though, many F bombs and if looks could kill. He was a completely out of control lunitic. Had it not been for an elevator door and a witness (the super, so that's no help when it comes to them acknowledging the truth) but it may have saved me from a severe beating. Call the police, yea don't bother with that advise because they are of no help. They will only intervene if I am beaten up or dead. So yea that's another dead end in my cry for help. I need real help, not lip service, and so far nothing.
I just hope you don't read about me in the papers. Actually I'm published in the Urban Dictionary. When I used the phrase in a sentence I mentioned my infamous board. I can't say what the phrase was because although it has no curse words it is rather down and dirty and I don't think that's allowed here. But yea they were soliciting for the meaning of a phrase. I typed it in forgot about, then about a month later I got the email. My definition of the phrase had been reviewed and published by the editors.

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I have a good example. I receive an email from the former MA.
Your AC has leaked into apartment 1D and destroyed the walls. You are responsible for damages.

Odd I live on the 3rd floor and the trickle from my AC bypassed the 2nd floor apartment and destroyed walls on the first floor. Since an adjuster was over in regard to the 3 floods to my newly renovated bathroom I asked him to look into this claim. He never heard anything like it in all his years and they would not entertain such a ludicrous claim. Nevertheless she came to my door trying to shake me down. She didn't want to go through insurance she just wanted me to give her cash. Oh yes the super who drills the holes in the wall above me is the one who figured out I was responsible for the destruction of her wall. The board said it had noting to do with them it was between myself and the shareholder on the first floor. I did get a laugh from one of them when I told them how she just wanted cash. Then I said what about the super making this completely absurd claim. Again they recused themselves saying it had nothing to do with them. There is so much more and my frustration level is maxed out. Feeling very helpless in this situation. I have stopped paying maintenance IDC. The product is garbage I am not getting what I am paying for I regard to this maintenance/rent. If you go to a restaurant and find a cockerroach in you meal what do you do? Do you pay for a meal that consisted of these little critters. Should the waiter argue with you because the soup was good and they want you to pay for that. Not only am I not getting what I have paid for, I am being tormented. They have no morals or values and I have only stated those things that I can prove. What I think my be going on I can't prove so I will remain silent on that. Sorry for the rant I am just at my ropes end and really need help. Thanks for listening, it was somewhat lethargic yet still disturbing that people can be so rotten.

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Hire an attorney? Why should a shareholder be put through this. Co-op boards and MAs have a responsibility to shareholders. Some boards are just poison. It is very expensive to hire an attorney. I have a similar problem in my building. My insurance agent suggested that I report them to the state. I have not yet decided. But yes it is a complete joke, our building is leaking like a sieve from shoddy work preformed by the previous super. He was doing next to nothing for the co-op but he was very busy with his renovation business. It will only cost around 50 grand to litigate. The real problem with many co-ops (not all) is you have foxes guarding the hen house and you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am not going to tell you to elect a new board because sometimes it is not possible when there is major dysfunction. There are no easy answers, but I understand exactly how you feel. Best of luck to you.

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MK - You are very quick to jump to (incorrect) conclusions.

I specifically did not say "hire" and attorney. I said "consult" with a practicing attorney. The original poster said at the end of their post that they only wanted a 100% guaranteed answer. To me, the only way to get a 100% guaranteed answer to a legal question is to consult with a 100% legal practitioner.

Most attorneys will initially meet with a perspective new client at no or very modest cost to determine if there is any basis for further legal action. If not, they will say so.

If they feel there is, they will discuss with the perspective client what courses of action may be available, the risks vs benefits of pursuing further action, and the estimated cost. At this point it is up to the perspective client to either "hire" the attorney to initiate the action, or simply walk away.

Keep in mind that any legal advice offered in forums like this is worth what you paid for it. Most general advice given here is accurate, insightful, on point, and very useful. But when someone asks a question of a legal nature, the only sure way of receiving a 100% accurate legal response is to speak with a legal professional.

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It is still going to cost $ to consult... If it is a rouge board the consult is useless. They do as they please.... You will need an attorney to HANDLE them. I'm not jumping to any conclusions. You are playing with words.

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Who asked if I had invited the super in for a brew? You are assuming I drink. I have an attorney & it $$$$$$$$, but I have gotten the shaft from this rogue board so it is worth every penny. There is only so much a person can tolerate and I have reached my limit. When someone is out to screw u a beer wiil not fix it.
But you can report to the attorney general.

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This is very simple, I'm not sure of your location but we have a 311 # to call and report any wrong doing. You can report this without giving your name. I realize living in a Co op myself we have 2 sets of share holders "The cans & The can not's " depending what side of the board your on. Good Luck.

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Of course you can require legal plumbers on the job! Your co-op should have an up to date "Alteration Agreement" which should be referenced for every renovation in your building. I am an architect and work on many co-ops and condos. A standard which I see in every Alteration Agreement is the requirement that any plumbing and electrical work be done by licensed plumbers and electricians. This is a must-have in your agreement if it is not already. Talk to your board president.
-Andrew Mikhael AIA

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Renovations preformed by super - MK Mar 14, 2017

I needed some work done in my apt. Rather than get an outside contractor I used the services of the building super. The managing agent gave the OK and no board approval was necessary. Other people in the building have used him without incident. But he does not like me because I yelled at his kids about 5 years ago and he was not our super at the time. I did not mind the skate boards or basketball on the concrete patio below my window because kids need activities and the neighborhood is dicey. But when the youngest one started having screaming meltdowns every 15 minutes I blasted them. He has held a grudge ever since and made it very clear when he took on the job. It looks like he did it for spite. He created a larger than necessary hole to do the plumbing work. When he finished he told me I had to plaster it up. But when he does work for other people in the building he has his underlings plaster it up. I remained silent because I knew this was done intentionally. When he returned and saw that I had not done the plaster work he questioned me about it. I told him that I would rather have a trap door to access the plumbing since it is so old and the building is leaking like a geiser not to mention the rust water that made me feel as if I was living in flint Michigan. He did not complete the work although he was paid in full. I called him and asked him when he would return to finish it and he began yelling at me that he was sick. I said ok ok calm down, I hope you feel better soon and then you can come over to finish it. He never came back but he tried to scam me out of $20 for a lock out fee. He told me to slip it under the door when I had cash since he does not take checks. I decided to hold off on the $20 so he would have to come looking for it and then I could get him to complete the work. He never showed up and after speaking with the MA I discovered that there was no lock out fee. I explained that he was not returning to finish the work he had started the MA became quite nasty and unreasonable. He told me it was between the super and myself because I hired him. I don't find this reasonable at all. If the MA gives the super carte blanch to do any type of renovation they should make sure he is competent to do the work. The MA also stated that the work was done during his private time. This is not the case it was a weekday during regular working hours which he was being paid for. Finally the MA told me that my kitchen was a non reality and he would discuss it with me when it became a reality. It was Friday he had plans good-bye. I hired another contractor on Saturday after getting some prices from him. I told him I did not need an estimate his prices sounded good just come over ready to finish the job. He was appalled at what he saw and had to correct some of the supers work to bring it up to specification. He wanted to know if I was going to sue. I told him I did not want to sue anyone I just wanted the work done. Where does this leave me, I don't want to sue him but I don't appreciate the rip off. The MA claims they have nothing to do with it despite the fact that the OK for him to do the came from him. Is he not insured to do the work? When the MA gives the OK shouldn't they stand behind their employee. I would not have hired him if I was made aware that there was no guarantee.
What is standard protocol and how should I go about rectifying the situation.

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This situation is complicated. My first thought is that you state in the first sentence that you declined to use an outside contractor. This implies this is a renovation. That would normally require your contractor to have insurance.

Your super did not have insurance, and I don't think the co-op's insurance would cover his work because he did a renovation, which I think is beyond the scope of the co-op's normal insurance coverage - even if the MA gave the okay. The problem is that YOU knew he wasn't a licensed contractor, yet you still agreed to let him do contractor type work.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, only a Board member, so take my opinion for what it is.

My second thought is that you hired a guy who has a grudge against you. This is an accident waiting to happen, and it did. It sounds like you wanted to save a few $$ by using the super, but this super had it in for you. Not a good game plan.

You're now at the point where the work has been corrected by a real contractor. That's the most important thing. It's your home.

As far as suing, I think you might win something, but certainly not everything you want to recoup. I don't believe your case shows a clear cut victory for you because you agreed to let a non-contractor do contractor type work.

That opens up a can of worms because I think a judge will say that knew that before he started the job. Even if the MA said he's qualified, you're the guy that hired him, so I think a judge would hold you accountable for your decision.

Also consider the court costs of suing in a case where you definitely have some liability. Thats a factor, too.

I don't know how much $$ you had to spend in total, but I think this is one of those situations where you should chalk it up to experience and let it go, even if it cost you some money. Life is too short.

The work has now been done correctly. Consider that $$ well spent. In the future, only use a licensed contractor for renovation work, and keep your contact to a minimum with the super. Let him in your apartment to do only the basic necessities. The co-op is responsible for those types of repairs and upkeep.

I might suggest that if the super is coming to your apartment for any needed repairs, you should take a video of the area to be worked on BEFORE the super does his work. Just in case he has any type of ulterior motives to do you wrong. It can't hurt.

Good luck to you, and I'm sorry for your troubles.

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I did not hire an outside contractor for several reasons. They tried talking me into things I did no want. I was also told that what I wanted done was impossible. I did all the work myself and I will be 60 this August. It consisted of all new appliances and I needed plumbing work because I was installing a dish washer. I removed 2 layers of tile the glue was so thick it was like playing with mud pies. I leveled some dips in the floor with wood filler rather than the carcinogenic self leveling compound that a contractor recommend. I removed old cabinet doors and sanded an painted them. I purchased an unfinished cabinet so I could paint it to match. I removed the draw and turned it into a sink front tray, and cut out a section of the back for plumbing. All I need from him was plumbing and to cut my butcher block countertop. The MA gave the go ahead for him to do the plumbing. If they can not stand behind their employee them they should not recommend him. I had no idea he was uninsured in fact maybe he is insured. Why would a MA allow an unlicensed individual do this work. It sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I am the victim and I find his behavior unacceptable and in fact criminal. Contractors who walk off the job and rip people off are criminals and that is a fact. I am the victim and you are in effect "blaming the victim". It is not all about the money and saving a buck either. Several years ago I paid a contractor for a complete rip out of my bathroom it cost 10 thousand and it looks great. I could have hired the super for that job ( a different one who was fired) he wanted the job but when I discussed it with him he did not seem to know what he was doing. I could have "saved money" if I hired him, but I did not. All I needed was a little help with plumbing something I don't do and don't want to do. For any MA or board to allow an employee to continuously do side jobs and recommend them for these jobs without any guarantee is ludicrous. The MA and board are fiduciaries. Allowing an employee to do this is a complete failure in this regard. He did it during regular business hours and it appears to me that they are working on his behalf instead of mine. Also offering him this side job was that same as offering him a fig leaf, he took it snapped it in half and threw it in my face. Excusing this behavior because he has a grudge REALLY! I am sorry to say that I completely disagree with your point of view, but you are entitled to your opinion. So I guess we can just agree to disagree. Yet I do appreciate that you took the time to give it consideration and provide a response
Thank You

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First lets get a few legalities out of the way, even though I am not a lawyer. Only board members are considered fiduciaries and they owe their fiduciary responsibility to the co-op corporation. The MA is an agent of the corporation and the board is responsible for their actions. If you have a beef with the MA you need to address it to the board. Same with the super. He is an employee of the corporation. Any problems need to be taken up with the board.

You may have received a recommendation from the MA and they may have approved your alteration (dumb without an alteration review or any form of pre-alteration oversight), but you contracted privately with the super. The MA had no involvement at all in the transaction. It is your responsibility to sufficiently vette the super or any contractor who performs work for you.

In your original message you said that the super had performed satisfactory work for other shareholders. As far as the MA was concerned, there were no red flags that would prevent them from making the recommendation. If the MA were to assume any liability with regard to the super's performance, it should have been stated very clearly up front, and they would need to be compensated for taking on the risk. It doesn't sound like you had any agreement or guarantee in effect with the MA.

The fact that you tried to make amends by offering the super a paying job is admirable, and it's a shame that he didn't reciprocate. No one is excusing the super's behavior, but it sounds like you and he were flying at different altitudes. Did you say to the super anything to the effect that you realize there was bad blood between you in the past, but that you wanted to end the animosity, and would he be willing to accept a paying job from you. Did you give him any indication that the job was a de facto peace offering? Invite him in for a cold brew while the two of you discussed what you wanted him to do? If not, what lead you to believe the super had any idea about what you were thinking?

Hopefully you will remember this episode the next time you need work done in your apartment. Not all contractors are scam artists, most are on the very up and up. You will need to perform you due diligence by reading reviews and performance rating websites to learn about others' experience with perspective contractors. The red flags will appear pretty quickly.

Best of luck with future renovations.

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No I did not invite him for a brew. I hired him to do a job. I treated him with dignity and respect. In return he was malicious. There is no excuse for his behavior. It is just that simple. Any other questions regarding what I may have done to make amends is irrelevant.
More to the point is why does the board and MA allow it. If he is not vetted to do the work wouldn't it be prudent to warn potential customers. Or better yet enforce co-op policy. But that is the dysfunction of co-ops. I feel like Alice in wonderland. Instead of pointing a finger at me and coming up with all the things I could have, should have, and would have done. I suggest you look at the situation in its entirety. Then come up with a could have, should have, would have list for the super, the MA, and the board.

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I want to reinforce everything that Marty wrote. His answer is well stated and spot on. You are fortunate that this did not escalate into something more serious and that your apartment is back together.

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Garages - Concerned Feb 18, 2017

My co-op has limited on-premises parking consisting of garages and parking spaces. As such there is a waiting list for shareholders seeking on-premises parking. A board member maintains a garage for storage purposes only which is in violation of the House Rules. The board member is aware that he is in violation yet refuses to relinquish his garage claiming that as a shareholder he has a right to the garage. Can the Board & Managing Agent force the board member, or any shareholder, to relinquish the garage? Additionally, can a fine be assessed the the board member for each month he is in violation of the house rule?>

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House Rules - Fines - Concerned Feb 18, 2017

Our co-op, located in Nassau County, recently revised the House Rules providing a categorically aligned table of contents and indicating fines for each violation. The board relied on house rules from other co-ops located in Nassau County along with input from the managing agent and co-op attorney to ensure compliance with the proprietary lease and any other regulations effecting the co-op. We have recently learned that courts have ruled in favor of shareholders when fines for house rule violations have been assessed. Can you discuss this issue?

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I'm NOT an attorney, so I'm not completely fluent in the law and court decisions.
However, as a board member for many years, what I have heard from other board members, managing agents, etc. is that you can charge fines but that most courts will throw them out if it gets that far. Unless there is a financial harm to the coop, such as receiving tickets for failure to recycle, building dept. violations for improperly installed a/c's or items blocking exits or on fire escapes, etc. you're not likely to collect any fines levied. Will a shareholder take you to court? Depends on the person and how much $$ is involved. And then you wind up with your own legal fees, which you can also try to pass on to them....

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Thanks so much JG. That's what we have heard making enforcement of noise and other issues challenging.

@HabitatMag it would be great to hear from the experts!

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We have had no issues with fines. No one has ever challenged them in court, but we have been consistent with their application.

For us, renovations are the biggest reasons for penalties because illegal renovations (done without submitting proper NYC issued licenses, insurance policies, and written details about the renovations) can jeopardize the safety of all residents.

We've told every shareholder about our rules so there's no miscommunication. It's worked out fine for us (no pun intended)

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My original comments were addressing the original question regarding how courts respond to fines. We also have house rules and we do fine mostly for pet rule violations, failure to recycle, and we charge late fees as a % for maintenance and other charges not paid by the due dates. We require any planned alterations to be identified in writing in advance, contractors are required to obtain necessary permits, we verify contractor licenses and insurance as well and obtain a security deposit for cleaning and possible building damage.

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I am also not an attorney. I've not heard anything about courts throwing out fines. I would think that the courts would be guided by the Business Judgment Rule unless the fine (or any other board action) violated any of the Co-op's governing documents or governmental regulation or law.

Best to check with your board's attorney for a more definitive answer.

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