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Abatement Charge Error Follow Up - JC May 02, 2020

So, it's now over a year ago, that we were incorrectly charged an abatement tax in our coop, which my spouse lived in for over 35 years, and I moved in over 25 yrs ago. A quick recap (of what I posted months ago): We were married 8 yrs ago, and I was added to the lease in Jan 20I8, however in April of 2019, we were charged over $1700 for an abatement tax, because our residences was not our primary address. Ridiculous, and 100% incorrect, as we don't even have summer home or even travel! Management even sent out a form months before the abatement tax to correct any mistakes the NYC DOF may have had on file which we did, and turned it in within 24 hrs. I posted this horror show here at Habitat, and there were a few individuals were very helpful with suggestions, which I tried. Management claims they have been working on this case from the start, and originally said it would only take a few months to be credited. We've been calling them periodically, and all we get is it's the NYC DOF that is taking long, not us.

From suggestions here, I've contacted individuals from the NYS DOF who said they would look at my case, but I never heard from them again. This is after emailing a follow-up asking for any updates. I then went direct to the NYS DOF website and submitted the details there, in hopes someone can look into my case, but within 24 hours, I received a "case closed" reply, with this response:
----
Although you completed the application to establish your primary residence with your managing agent, they must relay this information to Department of Finance by listing you/unit on a co-op/condo change form. Please provide a copy of the change form listing the added owner for the 2018/19 tax year.
Thank you for contacting the New York City Department of Finance.
----

One of the board members from my coop and a good friend, mentioned that this has happened before, but NEVER took this long to resolve. With all that's going on with the Covid-19 situation, I don't know if now is the time to expect any progress, but nothing has changed even before this. Any further ideas or recommendations? It feels like the equivalent of being robbed (auto-pay didn't help), and if we are not persistent, we would simply lose what is owed to us. Thank you all again, and apologies for this repost.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Hope this helps.

https://www.habitatmag.com/Archive2/355-May-2018/The-Mystery-of-the-Missing-Abatement

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I would contact your NYC Council person and ask them to contact the DOF on your behalf. They'll want all the information you've provided here.

I had some success with this method, so give it a try and good luck.

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Thank you for the article and Marty, thank you. I am now in the process of writing out a letter with documents to my city council.

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3 Year subletting expires in August - Maria Apr 28, 2020

Hi I own a coop on Long Island, NY and I sublet it. It's a 3 yr. sublet (rule made up by coop board) the sublet expires in August. I love my tenant but she has to move out so I can sell it, Board won't let her stay. I asked the board on behalf of my tenant to bend the rules during this coronavirus pandemic to extend her lease another year. It is difficult for her to find an apartment and difficult for me to sell with social distancing and realtors not being essentials. Board said they can't bend rules. How come Cuomo and Trump can bend rules but this Board won't. They are so heartless. My tenant is a wonderful tenant and they do love her ....but won't bend the rules. I want my tenant to feel she has a place to stay...and doesn't have to go and search for an apartment during this crucial time. Marketing an apartment virtually is insane. What can I do about Board? Who can I contact?

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Hi. By way of disclosure, I am a board member, and my response is from a board member's perspective.

I completely understand your angst because I encounter it with my shareholders. Please try to understand that the rules limiting sublet durations are not enacted by simple majority votes of the board, but are most likely enshrined in your proprietary lease. Overriding a clause in the proprietary lease would be like overriding a clause in the Constitution. It takes much more than a simple majority.

Then there is the issue of precedent. Even if the board *were* able to vote to change the term limit, making an exception for you would leave them wide open to having to make exceptions for anyone who asked. No board wants to be in that precarious position or give up that much governing authority.

I'm sure your tenant is a perfectly wonderful individual, but as often the case, one person's angel is another's devil. That's the reason documents like the Constitution and Proprietary Lease exist - to remove subjective influences from the need for objective decisions.

There really is no one individual or department you can contact. Almost all board decisions, especially those that are backed by the governing documents, are fully protected by a concept known as the Business Judgment Rule (BJR). The BJR states that any reasonable decision made in good faith by a co-op BOD is assumed to be in compliance with a board's fiduciary obligation and cannot be challenged. Enforcing a three year sublet limit clearly falls within that definition.

I assume your tenant knew about the hard three year limit when she signed the lease, and the expiration is not coming as a surprise. Co-op boards are bound by their governing documents, and as much as I am sure your board would like to accommodate your request, they do not have any flexibility. Your board does not sound heartless in the least, but simply acting in the way all conscientious directors are supposed to.

Marty, PC#1, and some of the other regular contributors may have other thoughts and ideas about this, so it may not be over. You have a very uphill battle, and I would recommend your tenant assume she will have to vacate in August.

--- Steve

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I am a board member like Steven 424. I am in complete agreement with Steven's detailed explanation and rationale.

We feel for shareholders in these situations, but our legal obligations give us no leeway.

I'm sorry for your troubles, but the 3 year sublet must be honored.

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I agree with Steven424 & Marty. But there is a very deadly virus and people can not move around as if things are normal. Have your sublet start looking around and maybe get an agent. She has 4 months to find something. Best of luck you are one of the lucky people to have a gem of a renter. Stay safe.

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Hi, actually my tenant is an Angel. She is clean, quiet, does not have parties and works all the time........ask the superintendant. I totally agree with you with the bylaws, But we are in the middle of a crisis.....this month is the month my tenant and I would be looking for an apartment or buyer. Have you heard...realtors can not do showings. Public health experts urge everyone to stop doing all but essential outside tasks in order to flatten the curve of infections. My husband and I are afraid to go outside!!!!!!. It doesn't have to be a year renewal...it could be 6 months.............STATE laws have been suspended and put on hold to assist the state in disaster. I think a Board of a coop could do the same. A month to month lease is insane.........COVD-19 is out there for a while......You board members think your God.....You can deviate from rules because of the COVD-19. My husband and I are in our 60's...........if this happened to you.......I think you would think differently.......Also.......the Board is not letting anyone in the building unless you live there.......so how can I do a showing or market the place? Governor Cuomo says "We should work together" I hope you don't think I'm shouting........I am just frustrated....my niece is a nurse and she has seen so many die in front of her........I'm just asking for a little more time ..............until me and my tenant feel comfortable going out. Shame on that President of that Board..............I think I might write to Gov. Cuomo....he says stay inside..........social distancing.......whenever possible

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Sorry, I meant to write that Board member thinks she is God.........not you guys........I don't even know you. She has enforced other thinks at the building that owners or tenants disliked.....because she is old and crabby.

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It's really just saying........We care and we want to help.........

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I just want to add that in our coop, the Board changed the sublet rules several times over the years, whether length or reasons for sublets. By majority vote.
There were no governing documents preventing policy changes.

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I fear that if I can't sell it during this pandemic, then i will be delinquent in paying my maintenance because of financial hardship. I have a bad feeling that the Management is trying to regain possession of the unit. When the pandemic begins to taper, I will be able to market it....but by then I won't be able to pay the maintenance bill of the coop which is $1,029.00 a month. Why won't they put a temporary halt on this bylaw or rule. I don't know how I will weather this storm. My husband is in his 60's and going to work, worrying about getting the virus. I'm at home worried about my husband and afraid to go out.......I feel like I am being cornered by the Coop Board and Management company and now I have this extra stress.

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Hi Maria - We definitely hear you and feel deeply for the predicament you and your tenant are in. Co-op boards are not sovereign governmental bodies and do not have the... errr.... leeway the executive and legislative branches of government do.

Boards can be sued or worse if they knowingly violate the co-op governing documents. The fact we are all in a situation where accomodations are being made due to COVID-19, we may not have all the answers. Perhaps you and your tenant should consult with an attorney who specialized in co-op and real estate law. There may be some temporary allowances being made which benefit your tenant the attorney would know about.

Another remote possibility is to propose to the board that in August your tenant become a "tenant at will" which means there is no lease and they can be asked to leave with 30 days notice. At the very least your tenant would need to perform a very diligent search for a new place and keep detailed records to show she is at least trying to find a new place.

Ultimately your tenant can refuse to leave. This would put you in a very uncomfortable position of being in direct confrontation with your board. It can have all sorts of repercussions, up to and including the cancellation of your proprietary lease and you losing your apartment in an eviction proceeding (remote possibility). It's the nuclear option, and you must consult with an attorney before starting down that path. It might just buy you enough time to mount a challenge to the crabby old board member and get her voted out at the next election.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm old (70 years) and can be pretty crabby (ask Connie S who went on a rant about her Asian neighbors) [chuckling]

Again, good luck!

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Thank you so much for responding......but I can't do that to my tenant. She has always paid on time and is a teacher in her 30's who is very respectable to us. I don't think I would want to go the attorney way, because then when I sell......they (the Board ) will give me a hard time....you know .....they will delay the interview and application date. She is a real scrooge. She has done that already to people. When she became president the pool had to be closed at 7:00 instead of 9:00....and there's other stuff too...But getting back to the 3 yr subject if you hear of any TEMPORARY ALLOWANCE will you let me know? I would appreciate that. Do you know of any good coop attorneys on Long island............just in case I want to pick their brain.

Thanx again..........Stay safe and well!!!!

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I fear that if I can't sell it during this pandemic, then i will be delinquent in paying my maintenance because of financial hardship. I have a bad feeling that the Management is trying to regain possession of the unit. When the pandemic begins to taper, I will be able to market it....but by then I won't be able to pay the maintenance bill of the coop which is $1,029.00 a month. How can I have them put a temporary halt on this bylaw or rule. I don't know how I will weather this storm. My husband is in his 60's and going to work, worrying about getting the virus. I'm at home worried about my husband and afraid to go out.......I feel like I am being cornered by the Coop Board and Management company and now I have this extra stress.

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Hi Maria - I'm confused about your relationship with your co-op. In your initial message, you said that you "own a coop on Long Island, NY." I assumed you are a shareholder in your co-op corporation and that you have a proprietary lease.

In your latest message you wrote, "I have a bad feeling that the Management is trying to regain possession of the unit." That implies you rent your unit either from a shareholder or a sponsor, and they are trying to evict you for some reason. Evicting a tenant, which is an arduous process, is much easier than evicting a shareholder, and makes no sense unless enough other shareholders feel you are a real nuisance (look up "Pullman Hearing" in Google).

Finally, you have your own tenant you are trying to protect. Many co-ops do not allow a shareholder's tenant to have their own tenant.

So I'm confused. :-)

A lot of shareholders wonder why a board can't just stop collecting maintenance during an emergency like coronavirus, or superstorm Sandy, or even Sept 11. When you think about it, shareholders are the *owners* of the co-op corporation. Cutting off the major source of income to the corporation (monthly maintenance) would make it impossible for the corporation to pay its mortgage, pay its real estate and other taxes, pay its staff, purchase supplies, make repairs, etc, etc. Your co-op corporation would very quickly go bankrupt, and your apartment, probably your largest asses, would become worthless. Not a pleasant prospect, and why withholding maintenance is counterproductive.

I am the treasurer of my building and I meet with shareholders in your situation, and much worse off. What I try to do is work out a partial reduction in maintenance during the emergency, and then a repayment plan once the situation stabilizes.

You say your husband still works and I assume receives a salary or other income, and you stay home. Did you also earn an income which you recently lost? Do you receive unemployment compensation, a form of income? You rent out your unit, which was the start of this thread. Where are you living now? If things got really bad, what prevents you from moving back into the unit you own once your tenant moves out? There are a lot of contradictory statements that make it difficult to offer any meaningful suggestions.

Finally, taking the totality of what you've written so far, I have to disagree that you are being "cornered" by your coop board and management company. Everyone is under additional stress these days. Some of my shareholders have *no* income and are living off of savings and retirement accounts. Besides wanting to provide for your angel of a tenant, which is admirable but possibly not doable, what else makes your situation so dire that you're thinking of writing to Gov Cuomo and other agencies?

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Just wondering why thumbs down to these great responses? I think she's back! LOL

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Yep..She's back!!!

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who is back? ............The answers are great! I'm writing to Cuomo and the national coop board. "because in one of the board's letters to me they wrote " I understand you might be paying for an empty unit for a while, but it's out of our hands"........why would anyone find pleasure in someones hardship.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Hello Maria,

I agree with the others. Your co-op board can make things very difficult when you try to sell, if you challenge the proprietary lease.

Since your 3 year lease is valid until August, why don't you and your tenant work with the same realtor for your respective needs. You probably can negotiate a lower commission for your sale and your tenant's rental.

Then speak to your board and show them that you are both diligently trying, under these very difficult circumstances.

Rather than ask for a 6 month extension, would they take a month by month extension with a six month maximum if necessary, under consideration.

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camera in hallway - camera in hallway Apr 16, 2020

I have simply question, Am I allowed as a co-op owner to put a camera (non-Audio One) in the hallway staircase (not facing my neighbors common area) due to me being harassed from my downstairs neighbor?

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I am not a lawyer, but from what I've read, I would have to say no. It's analogous to hanging a picture on a hallway (common area) wall or a planter outside your door. Shareholders may not make *any* addition, changes, or removals from any common area without board approval. Video cameras are particularly contentious because of privacy issues.

Your best bet would be to consult an attorney who is familiar with co-op law. The best you might be able to do is install one of the newer peephole video devices, but you may even get pushback about that.

If you approached your board about the harassment and they've done nothing about it, your only recourse may be to consult an attorney.

Good luck.

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Like Steven, I am not an attorney, but I agree with his advice. Cameras are not allowed in the common areas.

This situation came up for us a few years ago and the shareholder was not allowed to put the camera in the hallways due to privacy issues.

If I may ask...what benefit would there be in putting a camera in the stairwell? Is that where the harassment is taking place?

Good luck.

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Disclosure of Covid 19 case in building? - BBCA Mar 20, 2020

What can the board do if it finds out that a resident has tested positive for Coronavirus? Can they tell the other residents that someone in the building tested positive? Does HIPAA or the NYC civil rights law prevent the Board from identifying the person?

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As a lay person (I am not an attorney) who recognizes this is a minefield waiting for someone to step in the wrong place, my first and only piece of advice is to ask your board's attorney.

Good luck.

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I agree with Steven - speak to your attorney before doing anything.

We just had a staff member tested for corona. He was sent home because he had a fever. We think it's the flu because some family members recently had the flu and he only had a fever, but not the cough and shortness of breath associated with corona. But, we took no chances and sent him home and told him to see his doctor immediately.

We worried about privacy issues, but our attorney said we did have the right to ask him if he was tested specifically for corona. His test returns will come back within the week. We informed our shareholders of what happened.

I'm not sure if you have the right to identify the s/h who tested positive, but I think the Board must err on the side of caution and act ethically to inform all s/h that someone has tested positive.

If the s/h were not informed, imagine the anger that would ensue once word got out (and it WOULD eventually get out) that the Board withheld info that a s/h had tested positive for corona. That Board would be finished since their credibility would be gone. People are very scared right now. The Board needs to provide as much info as possible in order to allay everyone's fears and take control of the situation.

I'm sure there are guidelines of how to protect the other s/h (self-isolation) and to clean the building properly in these situations. The attorney can hopefully help with that, but don't be surprised if there are no specifics since this such a brand new situation for everyone.

Be honest and communicate often and provide updates. We're all figuring this out as we go along.

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Good morning:

Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP represents many cooperative and condominium boards throughout the City. Please see below for our recent guidance on COVID-19 related issues for coop and condo Boards and managing agents (collectively, the “Landlord” or “Landlords”).

The full HTML is available at the URL: https://www.gdblaw.com/QUESTIONS-and-ANSWERS-Coop-Condo-COVID

Q: What are the Landlord’s legal obligations to protect buildings against COVID-19?

A: In general, an owner of a multiple dwelling has a duty to maintain the premises in good repair and in a reasonably safe condition. This standard of care may well be applied to the corona virus. Landlords should follow the guidelines from the CDC and local authorities which are outlined in our prior memo to limit the risk of potential claims.

For further guidance please visit the CDC and NYC online guides listed below, for which links are available on our website: https://www.gdblaw.com/QUESTIONS-and-ANSWERS-Coop-Condo-COVID

- CDC – Home Cleaning and Disinfection
- NYC Department of Health Coronavirus Disease General Disinfection Guidance for Commercial or Residential Buildings, dated March 5, 2020
(the “NYC Guidance”)

Q: What about Annual Meetings? Are In-Person Meetings Required? May it be postponed and/or held by telecommunication or other electronic means?

A: Annual meetings may be delayed, despite any fixed date in the by-laws for a meeting. The Board may either amend the by-laws, or decide to notify shareholders that the meeting will be delayed due to current health-related conditions. If a meeting is not held within 13 months of the previous annual meeting, a shareholder may petition a court to order a meeting. Such proceeding would take many months before an order was obtained, given the current status of the court system, so it is an unlikely remedy to be followed.

The Business Corporation Law allows an annual meeting to be held by reasonable means, which may include audio webcast or other broadcast of the meeting and voting may be conducted electronically via internet voting.

Each building’s by-laws should be reviewed to determine the best method for postponing the annual meeting or holding it via electronic means.

Q: What about Board meetings?

A: Boards are not required to hold in-person meetings. The Business Corporation Law, Section 708(c), allows Board meetings to be held by conference telephone, provided that Board members may participate by means of a conference telephone or similar communications equipment allowing all persons participating in the meeting to hear each other at the same time.

Q: Should the Landlord close all gym facilities?

A: Recently, Governor Cuomo announced an Executive Order that requires all gyms to be closed until further notice. The Executive Order did not distinguish between public or private gyms, or gyms of a particular size, so the Order should be read as applying to all gyms of all sizes. The Executive Order reads, in relevant part: "Any gym, fitness centers or classes, and movie theaters shall also cease operation effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020 until further notice."

Q: What should the Landlord do in the event there is a suspected infected individual in the building?

A: If the Landlord or a resident has a reason to believe that a resident has contracted COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, we recommend that the Landlord take the following precautions:
- Keep the names of suspected infected individuals confidential from other residents until consent to release the information to them is obtained.
- Obtain written consent from the suspected individual to share their status with the other residents of the building.
- Direct the building staff when interaction with the suspected individual is required to follow the recommended protocols as described in the NYC Guide, i.e. request the suspected individual to exit the room, wear a protective face mask and properly sanitize after the visit.
- Advise all infected or quarantined persons that deliveries will be left outside the apartment door, that the delivery (or staff) person will ring the doorbell to advise of the delivery and will depart immediately without interacting with such person.

Q: What should the Landlord do in the event there is an infected individual in the building?

A: In addition to the above, regulations require that the Landlord notify the authorities of a confirmed case.

Landlords should alert all residents that there may be a confirmed case in the building, and remind them to follow the health guidelines. Landlords should explain the measures that are being taken to prevent its spread (e.g., the person is following all governmental protocols for quarantine). Personal privacy considerations must be taken into account, so Landlords should not name the infected individual or identify that person’s specific location, without obtaining that person’s written consent.

The notice to residents should specify that the unnamed resident is self-quarantining, or that he or she is under governmental order not to leave the apartment, and that safe procedures are in place for ministerial tasks such as disposing of trash or receiving mail.

If other building residents inquire who the infected resident is, to protect the resident’s right to privacy and to remove fear that such person might be publicly ridiculed or shamed, Landlords should not disclose the infected person’s name or apartment, without obtaining that person's written consent.

If a Landlord learns that the infected person is not following protocol, then appropriate authorities, like the New York State Department of Health and the CDC, should be contacted immediately.

10 NYCRR 2.12 creates an obligation to report a communicable disease to a city, country or district health officer when no physician is in attendance. When there is a physician in attendance the medical professional is required to report the disease by CDC and the Health Department.

Q: Who may be deemed “Essential Employees” for buildings to maintain resident services?

New York State’s guide for their employees, during their COVID-19 containment efforts, states that essential employees shall include “Maintenance, Safety & Security, Fire Safety, Capital Services, Emergency Management, Food Service Workers, Housekeeping staff, Cooks and Cleaning Staff.” We can argue that the same rules should apply for building employees.
The Center for Disease Control (the “CDC”) defines essential business functions, jobs, or roles as those which are required to maintain business operations. So again, building employees needed to maintain operations should be essential.

The NYS Dept. of Health advises that essential employees are those which the building deems essential for the performance of services in that individual building. Therefore, doormen, porters and supers may be “essential employees.”

Case law regarding the warranty of habitability also states that maintenance and janitorial persons perform essential functions for the building. Park W. Mgmt. Corp. v. Mitchell, 47 N.Y.2d 316, 329, 391 N.E.2d 1288, 1295 (1979).

For all of the above reasons, we believe that maintenance, security and cleanliness are considered essential functions to be coordinated for the health and safety of a building and its residents, and those performing these functions would be considered “essential employees.”

Q: What should a Landlord do if a member of the building staff tests positive for COVID-19?

A: We recommend that the Landlord should send home all staff members who worked closely with that infected individual for a 14-day period to ensure that the infection does not spread and ask that the infected staff member identify all individuals who worked in close proximity (three to six feet) with him or her in the previous 14 days, to ensure that all potentially infected staff are sent home. In the event this results in a building having an insufficient number of available staff, Landlords may be required to find temporary staff.

Landlords should also undertake a deep cleaning of the affected workspaces and common spaces. Lastly and importantly, the Landlord should advise all residents that a staff member has tested positive and the building is taking all necessary steps and precautions to minimize risk to its residents.

Q: What is the Board’s obligation to protect its staff?

A: The Board has an affirmative obligation to protect its staff as set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines (“OSHA”) and provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards which may cause death and harm.

The following protocols are recommended by OSHA:
- Landlords should promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing staff and visitors with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol.
- Landlords should explore whether they can establish policies and practices, such as [note – we are talking about doormen and porters] flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among staff and others because state and local health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies.
- Landlords should introduce options for conducting essential operations with a reduced workforce, including cross-training workers across different jobs in order to continue operations or deliver surge services.
- Require staff to stay home if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
- Encourage respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
- Encourage staff when entering individual homes to inquire with residents if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and if they have traveled to high-risk areas. If the resident answers yes to either of these questions, and the visit may be postponed, it is encouraged that the staff postpone the visit. If that is impossible, the resident should remain in a different room during the visit with the door closed, if possible, wear a face mask, and the employees should immediately wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use an approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Implement a course of action for prompt identification and isolation of infected individuals.
- Ensure there are hand sanitizers, soap and sanitized towels readily available for all staff.
- Additionally, the Board may issue a questionnaire to staff which is compliant with ADA guidelines (link on website).

For further guidance please visit the OSHA online guide: OSHA Guidelines for Employers (link on website).

For further guidance please visit the following online guides:
CDC – Guidelines for Employers (link on website)
EEOC -Guidelines (link on website)

Q: Can staff members refuse to work with residents?

A: Staff members may refuse to take on an assignment which is considered to be an unsafe work assignment. However, if another staff member deems the situation safe, has taken the necessary steps to protect against COVID-19 and the Landlord provides the staff member with proper gloves and equipment, then that staff member may perform the assignment. In this situation, we would recommend erring on the side of caution and request that another staff member who is comfortable with the assignment perform the task.

Q: Is revealing the identity of a suspected or infected individual a violation of the ADA?

A: While Boards may have to engage in a balancing act of protecting its residents from infection and the privacy rights of suspected or infected individuals, the ADA might come into play. According to the Americans with Disability Act (the “ADA”), generally the flu and other conditions which are lasting less than six (6) months are not considered a disability. (42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)) However, complications arising from COVID-19 may lead to a disability covered under the ADA. We would recommend that because Boards must maintain their fiduciary duty to their shareholders as well as individuals’ right to privacy (as medical records are confidential information) to refrain from sharing the status of a suspected or infected individual to other residents and staff; however, the Board could and should share the information with New York State Department of Health and the CDC.

Q: Is revealing the identity of a suspected or infected staff member a violation of the ADA?

A: According to the ADA, generally the flu and other conditions which are lasting less than six (6) months are not considered a disability also applies to employees (29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)) and as mentioned in the above, complications arising from COVID-19 may lead to a disability covered under the ADA and employment law. Due to the unknown risks and complications related to COVID-19, we recommend the Building err on the side of caution and refrain from disclosing this confidential medical information to a limited group, including: Supervisors (to implement necessary work restrictions and accommodations), first-aid and safety personnel (if the disability requires emergency treatment), workers' compensation state offices and insurance carriers, government officials investigating ADA compliance. Employers should refrain from sharing this information with co-workers and residents.

Q: Is sharing the status of a suspected or infected individual a violation under HIPAA?

A: HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It provides patients’ security provisions and data privacy, in order to keep patients’ medical information safe. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), HIPAA’s privacy act only applies to covered entities and business associates of covered entities. Landlords are not considered such.

We hope the above is helpful for you. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions concerning the above guidance (ajb@gdblaw.com).


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1. If someone is unable, i.e. on a ventilator, to sign permission to disclose COVID to neighbors they may have had contact with in an apartment building isn't there a duty to warn on the part of a condo board or management company, so that those exposed neighbors can be on watch or quarantine? What happened to duty to warn known exposure?


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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Ringaleavio (reminds me of my yute in Canarsie!),

I mentioned earlier when I responded in this thread that "I think the Board must err on the side of caution and act ethically to inform all s/h that someone has tested positive. But, that's just my opinion and I'm not an attorney.

But, as Steven has said, you should check with the Board's attorney before taking any action because everyone's rights must be considered.

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My yute was in Queens, but great game anywhere.

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Maintenance & assessment payments & best Board practices during COVID-19 - Margaret Morrison Mar 20, 2020

How would a possible rent moratorium, considered by Mayor DeBlasio, affect coops? We're a 40-unit, self-managed Brooklyn coop. Would Boards be asked to stop collecting maintenance and assessment as NYC institutes economic relief efforts in the COVID-19 crisis? What does Habitat advise coop boards around best practices with share holders facing financial hardship as more and more New Yorkers are out of work due to social distancing? Should we stop charging late fees now for late maintenance payments, in light of Gov Cuomo's moratorium on evictions? Does his NYS grace period for loan modification apply also to our coop's underlying mortgage (which we're due to refinance end 2020)?

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I'm not an attorney, but I would advise you to speak to your attorney before doing anything. I'm guessing that rent moratoriums probably don't apply to co-ops because we're corporations and technically not landlords (at least I don't think we are).

In past hardship situations, we've always tried to work with s/h as much as possible to help them through their rough financial patches.

Since you have a possible refinance, it would be wise to speak to the bank and get their thoughts on the matter. This is new for them, too.

But, only speak to the bank after you've spoken to your attorney.

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Besides completely agreeing with Marty, let's step back for a moment regarding rent moratoriums. Suppose every unit owner stopped paying monthly maintenance for any reason. Who'll be screwed? *You* will! :-) Besides being a form of tenant, you're also a part-owner of the business. If you suddenly cut off all your income, how will your bills get paid? How will your staff be paid? How will you pay your mortgage? And ghod forbid, how will you meet your Real Estate tax obligations???

I'm trying to be light-hearted here, but think about it. When a shareholder brings up a maintenance moratorium, what you're actually doing is taking careful aim at your foot and pulling the trigger. It will be a painful experience.

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Co-Op Board New Rules - Regina Mar 20, 2020

I fully support the many new rules imposed on co-op building tenants, however, I feel they need to be fair. In my building, delivery persons who usually go from building to building with paper bags of food have been seen by the elevators for some tenants, and other times the food is left at the front lobby with the doorman. I do not order food ever, but particularly not now, as the person delivering the food likely has no health insurance and would also work sick, not wanting to lose money and yet not being able to afford health insurance.

I was an office worker now forced to work at home. I just moved in less then 2 months ago from a 1 bedroom to a studio. I am now working on a couch with 2 end tables pushed together with rubbermaid containers and boxes to place my monitors and mouse on. I have my seat cushion because I have ischial bursitis which is extremely painful. I realized after just a couple days, from the way that my pain was increasing and when that happens, it is difficult to get in back under control. I needed a proper (height and size as I do training from home and use two monitors), and of course a chair which I get in myself. My issue is while food is allowed to be brought directly in the front door, the building manager will not allow my desk, from a reputable company, Restoration Hardware, who uses a Manhattan delivery company with insurances drivers to deliver a desk. I plan on getting a prescription from both my Weill-Cornel Physiatrist and Pain Management physician and any other supporting documentation that I need a proper work station for a medical condition. The building manager will allow hospital beds but he never said who has made the decision the tenant needs that? It could make them decline in their daily ADL’s, basic functioning and ambulating even around their apartment IF they really do not need a hospital bed but want the controls or a special mattress. I am a healthcare worker who is working from home but taking care of patients who need resources. I assure they get transportation, food, necessary medicines from pharmacies who deliver and anything the homebound patient needs. I am an RN, BSN, MBA, Certified Case Manager who also may resultantly need to work in a hospital as the nursing shortage gets worse. And yet, right now I am at home and this pompous building manager (had been here 30+ years) has the nerve to allow unclean (some) food delivery workers into the front entrance where I pass them by as they are lined up on Saturday night, and other nights maintain a constant flow, but will not allow me to have a desk delivered. I am willing to have it left at the curb as where there is a will there is a way.

Can anyone tell me if a building manager needs to have some type of literature or back-up to their decisions of what tenants can and can’t do or have delivered? And if I take pictures of things being brought in through the front door and taken up in our elevators, will that help my case for delivery of one (1) item that will allow me to work more efficiently?

I understand new rules need to be implied, but I see quite a difference from what the 16th floor shareholders are held to abide by in comparison to the Penthouse tenants.

What can I do? I will get a prescription from my doctor for a desk so that I can maintain proper posture, but the manager already said no. He did tell me I could order from Amazon though and I have that in writing. I am 67 years old and would need to assemble it and it may not be in any lesser size than the 42 inch desk I ordered. PLEASE HELP

THANK YOU,
Regina Presa
201 E 66th St.
New York, NY 10065

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Regina,

Maybe I missed it in your description of events, but what reason has the Building Manager given to you as to why you can't have this desk delivered?

I've never heard of having to provide literature before a desk could be delivered.

The reason that the Building Mgr gives is important because they must act consistently in the way they treat all shareholders. If he's allowing some things to be delivered but not others, then he'd better have a very good reason why.

Did he tell you that it can't fit through the door?

Good luck.

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Regina,

Thank you for your help during this crisis.
I
I was researching Americans with Disabilities Act and found this on Habitat that I hope will help.

https://www.habitatmag.com/Archive2/298-March-2013/Board-Talk-A-Conversation-About-the-ADA

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Locking in Oil Prices - Westchester DP Mar 17, 2020

Our management company has already approached us about locking in oil for the upcoming year since oil market down. Anything we should we wary of? A good plan for approaching? Such as wait until it goes down to "x" but if goes up to "y" lock in???? Is there a site where we can check the daily lock in rates being offered?

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coop questionnaire cost - DP Mar 14, 2020

I'm investigating refinancing my coop with a different mortgage company than the one I now have. (All I want is to lower my interest rate which is now 4.375%). The new broker said I had to have the coop questionnaire filled out by the Management company, but mgmt. wants to charge me $150. to do that.

I'd like to know how common that is, how common that $150 fee is, and if there's any way around it.

Because my building is in poor shape, with many (expensive) violations, I'm not sure that I'll be able to refi anyway, so I fear I'll be throwing away that $150. without being able to recoop it later (with a lower rate).

Knowledgeable replies, rather than opinions, are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I assuming you are referring to the questionnaire your new mortgage company is requesting you have filled out by the co-op corporation (by their managing agent).

$150 is actually inexpensive. For as long as I can remember, the cost of completing the questionnaire by our MA is $250. Depending on what questions are asked and how frequently your MA completes a questionnaire for your building, there is probably research someone in the MA's office has to perform.

There's almost no way around needing to have the questionnaire completed. It provides your new mortgage company with a snapshot of the health of your co-op.

If you think the legal and financial situation of your co-op is such that your application may not be approved, you're wagering $150 (and other refi costs) against how much you'll save if you are approved. All you need is a good handicapper... ;-)

Good luck!

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> Join the conversation Comments (3)

Thank you, Steven. That is indeed my present situation. I hate to throw away $150, especially since it wouldn't be deductible next year. I don't know how to do the actual math to see how much I could end up saving, in order to discover if it would be worth it.

Not sure what you mean by a "good handicapper."

Thanks again!

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A handicapper is a self-proclaimed expert in how much to wager on competitive events, like horse racing. They try to determine if a certain bet at any given odds is worth the money you could lose.

I assume you've done the math to see how many months it will take for the money you will save each month due to refinancing to cover all of the costs you will incur to close on a new mortgage. All you really need to do is find out what your repayment savings will be each month and divide that into the projected closing cost. Say your total closing costs are $2,000 and you'll save $50 each month in loan repayment. Your break-even point is 2000/50 or 40 months. You may find that the projected payback takes so long that it's not worth moving ahead with the refinance.

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$150 isn't too bad. You can ask a board member (treasurer?) if they could complete the questionaire, our treasurer has done it in the past.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Thank you JG. Yes, I suppose $150 isn't bad, but knowing the history of this building, it might be lost and then it would be bad, wasted. Interesting idea about the Board Treasurer. Thanks.

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Normally I would agree with JG about asking a board member. But at this particular moment in time, almost all board members are dealing with far more urgent coronavirus issues. You run the risk of having your request filed near the bottom of the pile and possibly missing important milestones, especially your rate lock expiration.

Good luck.

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I presume they are concerned about the corona virus, is a desk any different than a food delivery? But maybe it's a concern re: the delivery person getting injured if he should trip or fall in the building? Some buildings want certificates of insurance from moving companies for move-ins/move-outs, or deliveries of large items.

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Corona Virus COVID-19 Preperations - REAPLLC Mar 12, 2020

I was waiting for someone else to start the conversation but I suppose I will..

As a property manager, I have placed plans and contingency planning into play with every building.
this includes (but not limited to) staffing, staffing absenteeism, added staffing, added cleaning and disinfecting of specified areas, board meetings, party, and congregation limitations, laundry room and facility rules, and I am having a mandatory emergency preparedness seminar and meeting for all my supers and staff tomorrow to review communications, staffing, risk identification and mitigation and more...
For the purpose of improving and helping others to mobilize a plan, what are you doing? What are your concerns?
~AR

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Just to add a note - Washers and dryers are a breeding ground for Mold and Lint. Keeping them in Proper order is essential!! Please note that Aces Laundry is the ONLY route laundry operator to provide De- mold and De-lint and SANITIZING services for ALL of our locations on a regularly scheduled basis!!
WE CARE ABOUT OUR TENANTS HEALTH AND WELL BEING !!!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Stan never heard of Aces, our co op lawyer has said we can not break our contract with Coinmat they are too rich to fight. I say get rig of our lawyer and get rid Coinmat.
Do you have a way of getting rid of them so you can do business with us?
Can you also post your contact # and e-mail. Thanks you in advance.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

PC - I never heard of Aces but it looks like they're based in Hartsdale (https://www.aceslaundry.com/).

If your current company is Coinmach, then I agree that they suck and they are so big that you'll never beat them. Keep your lawyer. He can't do anything about them.

We had no choice but to wait until the end of our contract and then, like failing the door test in a Bronx Tale, we dumped them and we dumped them fast!

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I too have never heard of Aces... But I did get rid of Coinmach in all my buildings and went with Hercules. I am satisfied with them.
In one instance, I placed their machines on the curb and called them to get them or lose them... Don't let their tactics push you into a corner.
~AR

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Can’t help you out of your contract, but when you are ready we at Aces Laundry are also !
Like I said - Scheduled De-Mold and De- linting
we have office throughout the Boroughs, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties -
We are here to Help Keep Our Patrons and Tenants Healthy and HAPPY !!!

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transferring coop at death to sibling - idlidosai Feb 26, 2020

There does not seem to be any clear policy mentioned about this in the bylaws.
Is it possible for a shareholder who has been living in the coop for a long time with a disabled adult son , to transfer it in his will to his sibling who lives out of state but visits and stays in the cop periodically , and allowing him to let this disabled adult child continue to stay in the apt? The relative has excellent financials , so there would be no problem paying the maintenance . The cop does not allow the apt to be placed in a trust which is what the shareholder would have preferred to do . Do coops allow exceptions in cases involving a disabled person , re rules limiting sublease , if that is wht this would be considered? Thank you .

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Look in the Occupancy Agreement if there's nothing in your by laws. I'm sure it's mentioned because it's such a common question.

Look for something that might begin with "If, upon the death of the Member..."

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The verbiage regarding transferring shares is usually in the Proprietary Lease and not the Bylaws. In my PL there is this:

16 (b) If the Lessee shall die, consent shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed to an assign ment of the lease and shares to a financially responsible member of the Lessee's family (other than the Lessee's spouse as to whom no consent is required).

I think this covers the financially responsible sibling.

As for subletting, the Board usually reviews the proposed sublet tenant to make sure they are a good fit for the building. The answer to your question might turn on the nature of adult son's disability.

You have a number of potentially conflicting rules and regulations in play when dealing with disability, tenancy and residency, and I would suggest you contact the co-op's attorney for a definitive answer.

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> Join the conversation Comments (3)

Steven makes a good point about checking with the co-op's attorney. I think that the co-op would be satisfied with a relative who can be relied upon to pay the monthly maintenance with no issues. I think the adult child is on safe ground morally and legally to stay in the apartment.

First off, it generally isn't good publicity for a co-op to kick out a disabled child of the shareholder.

Legally, I think it's okay. My Occupancy Agreement states that upon the death of the Member, the shares shall transfer to:

1) The spouse who resided with the s/h at the time of death, or

2) A natural or adoptive child of the Member who resided with the s/h at the time of death, and who has resided in the apartment as the child's primary residence from the later of:

1) The date of birth or adoption of the child

2) The date on which the deceased Member purchased their shares

Of course, this is what my Occupancy Agreement (OA) states, but I think that most OA's are probably written in a very similar manner. Sounds like the son should be able to stay.

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Marty - Did you have to sign a separate Occupancy Agreement in addition to your Proprietary Lease? I didn't because our PL spells out occupancy requirements. If you had to sign a separate document I'm curious as to why.

My concerns about the Adult Disabled Child taking ownership of the apartment and/or living there by himself, turn on the nature of the disability. If it's a physical disability, then I can't see there being any problems.

But if the disability is emotional or psychological, and the now-deceased parent was caring for and participated in the treatment of the disability, the question becomes, can the child live by himself? Will they become a nuisance or a danger to other shareholders, the building, and possibly himself?

IMHO this is where the issues of succession and sub-tenancy become dicey. The board will need to weigh the rights of the child vs. the rights of the other shareholders. The co-op attorney is the best resource for guiding the decisions of the board.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I did not have to sign the Occupancy Agreement. It was a package deal with the By-laws.

I agree with you about weighing the rights of the child vs. the rights of the other shareholders. You know that this type of balancing act is a common dilemma facing many boards and can concern many different issues.

I would see a potentially very difficult road for an emotionally disabled adult who could pose a danger to himself and/or other shareholders.

Get the attorney involved.

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In my building, we require a complete purchase application from the proposed occupant, to ensure that he/she can afford the maintenance and have a reserve in the event of an assessment. We also do an interview.

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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

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