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exhanging apts? - rene Oct 26, 2008


hi everyone,

the coop i am in is currently selling an apt. a shareholder has contacted the board looking to exchange their apt for the one for sale. I am not sure of the difference in value but the shareholder seeking the other apt said she wants to do this with minimum paperwork due to her immigration status and if there is any difference in value (which there probably is) that we could negotiate how she would make up any difference. the apt is also being shown by a realtor. my question is...does anyone know if you can exchange apts by simply exchanging the shares on the apts? my gut says the shareholder would have to sell her apt and then purchase the other apt just like any other person interested in the apt...any thoughts? also this person is a former board member.

thanks in advance for your responses.

r

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if you allow this

Just my opinion

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Someone in my coop recently asked if SHs can exchange apts that are allocated the same # of shares and our attorney said no. You can't negotiate the difference in value of apts, and there are factors such as taxes, mortgages on the apts, etc. If this were allowed, SHs would be exchanging apts in their buildings and between buildings all the time, and what a mess that would be.

Your SH has to sell the shares for her apt and buy those for the other apt - and why does she want minimum paperwork due to her immigration status? Something there doesn't sound right to me.

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Any “exchange” of property such as real estate especially has income tax implications and likewise needs to withstand IRS scrutiny. As there must be a dollar amount ascribed to the transfer there are the tax implications.


Thus while two shareholders may wish to exchange apartments, the transaction must meet legal and tax requirements.

Thus, the co-op corporation’s transfer agent (attorney) must be involved and as usual all necessary paperwork must be generated.

Unless all legal matters are in order, the co-op corporation could be subject to some nasty legal challenges and litigation in the future.

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Oil Price Lock - Catherine Ryan Oct 22, 2008


With oil prices dropping, members of our board are pushing agressively for locking in a price for the upcoming calendar year, while others are vehemently against it.

What are the thoughts of those on Board Talk as to the pros and cons of such an action on a budget, as I am undecided.

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Our board decided to lock in with a fixed-price contract for 50% of our needs for the heating oil which will allow for some flexibility.

Locking in with a fixed-price contract would allow for a more accurate estimate of a budget for heating oil.

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Of course there is absolutely no way to know how the price of crude oil will fluctuate over the next six months. That said, the current price of about $62 per barrel is the lowest in a year, and it is certainly reasonable to consider a price lock.

A key point is the precise terms of the forward contract you sign. How much of your fuel oil will be purchased at the agreed rate? Is this a fixed rate or (preferably) a rate cap? If the price of oil plummets, is there a way to get out of the contract by paying a cancellation penalty?

As another poster mentioned, a rate lock will allow you to draw up a more precise budget, which is yet another advantage.

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The New York Times ran an article a few days ago (see URL below) that was all about homeowners who regret having locked in the price of oil last summer when prices were peaking. Can someone tell me what the point of that was? Is is that homeowners should have been able to look in a crystal ball and predict the future, when all the experts and talking heads on TV were wailing and moaning that the sky was falling and oil prices were only going to rise?

In case anyone else wants to get as apoplectic as I over this hindsight nyah-nyah story, it's at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/23/nyregion/23fuel.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=locking%20in%20oil%20prices&st=cse&oref=slogin

For the record, we did not do a lock-in last summer, but I would hardly fault any board that did. Jim Cramer and all those other "experts" should be ashamed of themselves for not providing a disclaimer: "We really don't know any more than you do, but we say things with authority and entertainingly, and you morons believe us and keep coming back for more. Ha ha ha, look at my bank account!"

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Website - ABB Oct 21, 2008


Can anyone recommend a decent free/cheap web hosting company for a coop website? Does anyone have a coop website? Any major issues to watch out for in creating one?

Any advice/help welcome!

Thanks

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Try contacting Guy and MyBuildings.org they are pretty reasonable.

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subletting policies - Ruth Ford Oct 16, 2008


Good morning. I am a contributing editor at Habitat magazine working on a story on whether and how some co-op boards are revamping their sublet policies, given the current financial crisis. Have shareholders approached board members hoping to sublet to earn extra income or to tide them over while they wait for their units to sell? Please contact me at the email above, with the best number and time to call you. Hope to hear from you.

Thank you.

Ruth

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Just to be clear, my email address is fordruth@mac.com. You can also contact me by cell phone: 646-701-1670. Thank you.

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A Habitast article about boards that use careful judgment (eventually) vs. blindly authoritarian boards:

http://www.habitatmag.com/publication_content/2008_october/web_exclusive_adaptations/authoritarian_boards_public_rancor

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We have not amended nor have we contemplated amending our sublet policy, which for our co-op is nil. We do not permit sublets at any time, crisis or not.

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Even in cases where folks are having difficulty selling their units? How do the shareholders feel about the board holding the line? If you have a moment, can you contact me offline?

Ruth Ford
646-701-1670.

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Folks as draconian as it may sound; the responsibility of the coop is to the corporation and the wellness of the corporation.

When does subletting end? Who sets the rules, is one enough, two, ten, twenty, etc.?

Sorry, I need to be aloof, as horrible as it sounds.

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If you want to permit sublets in a co-op and the bylaws forbid such a transaction, then so be it -- no sublet.

If owners wish to permit sublets, then amend the bylaws and establish rules so that the board members can go on with the business of operating the co-op in an effective manner, rather than piecemeal, without legal standing.

Let’s think for a minute. What are the rules for subletting when no by-law permits such action? Who decides who is worthy to sublet and who is not? Do you ask for another financial package? How do you verify need? Should you? If you don’t verify then every silly or bogus request needs to be honored.

Are you jeopardizing the borrowing power of future owners and thus sales by having too many sublets? How many sublets is enough? What is the governance?

More importantly what is your co-op's legal standing? What if owners sue the board for breach of fiduciary responsibility?

Think first!!

There are too many owners that sue at the drop of a hat and I for one as a unpaid volunteer do not have time to expend my time answering frivolous and perhaps not so frivolous law suits when an owner sues because she or he has been denied or objects to sublets (per the by-laws). And, who wants to squander co-op funds defending a law suit.

My view is stick with the rules. If permitted then yes, if not permitted then no. Board members should not waive rules. These rules, however dated, exist for a good purpose and should be formally amended rather than waived or broken as the situation may dictate.

If your attorney has not counseled otherwise, then your attorney is remiss.








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Our board operates as a true board as we do not meddle in the day-to-day operations of the corporation and the building.

The board has demonstrated a long term adherence to the bylaws and other attendant documents. Our owners expect a steady hand and adherence to rules, and this is what they have received. Yes, all empathize when folks are in distress.

But as noted adherence to the rules, saves us time and again when some owner feels that a refusal per the rules is unjustified and thus engages an attorney and presses a suit.

Basically, an owner must now plead that he or she wishes an exception to be made to the rules as opposed to showing that others have received a favorable waiver and he or she has not.

Now where's the burden? As a judge, how would you rule?

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it is really beneficial to allow sublets - with restrictions - but allow them. it is. also this is much easier for boards that do not have members with control issues but who have forsight. all to often boards have members with issues that can make things, in fact, more difficult for a copp to function in a truly productive manner.

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Sal,

You are now correct.

Amending the bylaws is the way to go, if the residents wish the corporation to entertain and operate such a policy.

In the absence of a bylaw change; it is still nil.

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Unfortunately for many years we had a board who protected owners who sublet. We finally ousted this group, but are now stuck with the owners who do not want to give up thier Hotels. We are a small (100) building and have apartments that are run as a B&B. (maid etc) ... and other owners/renters have not been in the building for over ten years.

We are now going to try to vote in a Sublet Bylaw. We feel that two years with a one year emer extension is fair. Four years between each individual sublet. To discourage investors, new owners cannot sublet for two years. Also a 10% limit on the number of Sublets at any given time.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.
Thank you ..HG

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My building (also small) has a very generous sublet policy -- allowing a shareholder a total of 4 years of subletting. How it got to be so long is beyond me. Up until about 15 years ago, we had a no-sublet policy. Then the retrenchment in coop pricing and mortgage lending induced us to allow it to relieve the hardship on shareholders who needed to sell but could not get a buyer. The term started at 2 years, I think, and has expanded to 4 -- far longer than ought to be necessary to accommodate a temporary job reassignment or even to tide a departing shareholder over a depressed resale market.

There are some abuses. E.g., 2 apartments were rented out for the maximum 4 years, and when the maximum was up, lo and behold it became "convenient" for the owners or members of their families to move back in -- and both of them had been living in the City (I think) during the sublet. One shareholder sublet because he had been admitted to business school down South; 2 years later, after he had obtained his degree, he wanted to continue subletting, even though he was then living in NYC. The only reason why he changed his mind is that he couldn't get his tenant to pay a higher rent.

Then there was the woman who wanted to sublet because she was now engaged, the apartment was not big enough for her and her fiance and they were now living in larger, rented quarters elsewhere, but she wanted to hold on to (and sublet) her apartment in our building "in case things didn't work out."

Or the couple who bought the apartment for their college student daughter, who lived here the minimum 2 years and then decamped for Los Angeles, where she had gotton a job. The parents sought to sublet, saying that they had intended to use the apartment as their pied a terre when their daughter moved out, but they now found themselves not as close to retirement as they had thought they would be. They've been subletting for 2 years -- so far.

The maintenance rate is far below the rental value of apartments in our building, and I can't help but think that shareholders wouldn't be subletting at all, much less for so long, if they weren't making a profit off it. This is a small building (110 apartments), and we have trouble getting people to run for the small board (of 5), as well as to do the things around the building that have always been done by volunteers, such as gardening our tree pits. The presence of subletters exacerbates both problems.

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If you have 110 apartments and are having trouble getting 5 people to serve on the board, you building has issues that go way beyond a handful of apartments being sublet.

The supposed horror stories you cite -- it's hard to comprehend any problem. You mention someone subletted for the 4-year max, and then the owners/family-members moved back in. And the problem is ... what?

You mention a parent-owned apartment, with a daughter who moved to L.A. 2 years ago, and the parents are ... only halfway through the allowed 4 years. What is the problem???

I read this thread about subletting, and most of what I see is knee-jerk hysteria and the throwing of labels. It's like a Sarah Palin rally.


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Before you start accusing others of hysteria and "label throwing" like participants in a Palin rally, you should look at your own behavior. These gratuitous insults sound like a McCain tactic -- character assasination -- made all the worse by the fact that they were delivered anonymously. It's just this sort of abusive rhetoric that poisons discourse in this forum.

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Putting too many and putting too few (or no) restrictions on subletting can both cause problems. With too many, SHs can get tied in a strangle hold. With too few (or none), SHs always find ways to "abuse the privilege". Either way, the board has to sort out issues case-by-case and deal with complications or complaints that arise. This can be avoided to a great extent if rules and guidelines are in place and enforced properly.

If subletting is allowed, the best way (IMO)to handle it is to establish the clearest, most complete set of sublet rules possible - rules that are fair and consider the needs and best interests of SHs, their neighbors, and the coop as a whole. Send all SHs a memo or a "Coop Rules For Subletting" document that spells everything out, and advise them to keep it for future reference.

Make sure (as best you can) that everyone is on the same page and understands what is and isn't permitted. A memo or document with a short intro (or short cover letter) and the rules outlined in bullet points is a good way to make this easy for SHs to grasp.

Be clear and be specific. For example, the rules should state:
-- If a sublet application package and board approval are required for new sublets
-- If an application form and board approval are required for every renewal period (this can be short with just basic info - renewal lease dates, where the tenant works and his work/cell number, etc.)
-- What sublet lease periods are allowed (e.g., 6 months or 1 year only at a time)
-- How long subletting is permitted (e.g., for a 5 year max, then no more - or - with no limit but with board approval required for every new and renewal sublet)
-- If there's a residency requirement (i.e., if a SH must be a resident for, say, 3 years before any sublet of that apt is permitted
-- The sublet fee for new and for renewing tenants (it's a good idea to have fees)
-- Any fine for "invalid occupancy" - if an unauthorized person is living in an apt or a tenant remains after his sublet period has expired without a board approved renewal

Above are examples of what rules should include. The board of each bldg has to get together, carefully consider what rules to establish, and impose fines or take some type of action if there's non-compliance.

You want to be fair to everyone and rules are necessary, but rules with no follow-up or no ramifications if they're ignored are no rules at all.

Have a subletting game plan, set rules for it, be proactive if rules aren't followed, and a lot of problems can be eliminated.

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Sorry, I accidentally forgot to fill in the sender line on my post here that begins with putting too few or too many restrictions on subletting, and I clicked "response" before I realized that I did this. My apologies.

BP

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My compliments to Anonymous -- he or she shows exactly the kind of thoughtful, nuanced leadership that any organization needs.

Anyone can blindly follow draconian, authoritative rules that try to fit all human behavior and needs into a "one size fits all" form that doesn't account for a range of human and economic realities.

True leadership is hard work. If showing judgment and wisdom is too tough, than let someone else lead. As with Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council's term-extension power-grab yesterday -- slapping 89% of referendum-desiring New Yorkers in the face -- it's the height of hubris to think that "I and only I can run this co-op. No one else is capable."

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I do understand the cons of subletting, but it's hard on SHs who relocate, can't sell quickly, etc. if they can't sublet. It can also be hard on tenants if a sublet has a cap of, say, 2 years. Why make them have to find a new place when they've just started to build a life where they are?

If a coop has a policy stating that sublets can only be for 6 months or 1 year at a time and every renewal requires board approval, tenants who cause problems or don't obey the rules can be denied renewal. A cap on sublet renewals could be set at, say, 5 years. Many tenants (even many SHs) wouldn't stay that long. They'd marry and need a bigger apt, relocate or whatever but it would provide some sense of "permanence" while they are in a bldg. Flipping tenants in and out in the short term also adds to a hotel or revolving door mentality which is what coops typically don't want in any case.

Having SHs as residents is usually deemed preferable. We have a policy stating that no more than 20% of apts can be sublet at any one time so we're not overrun with tenants and that's never been a problem for us.

Sublets can also be a good source of income for a bldg, especially one that doesn't have many/any other ways to generate it. We have a sublet fee for all new AND renewal sublets equal to 2 months maintenance, and we only allow sublets for 6 months or 1 year at a time, so this does bring in income. It can also be thought of as a way of discouraging over-subletting because some SHs won't want to pay that fee for every new or renewing tenant. If the average fee was, say, $1200 and a bldg had 10 sublets, that could bring in $20K a year.

Just wanted to express a few thoughts on the pros of subletting. Thanks.

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Harold - remind me not to live in your building. sounds like you have inflexible and limited thinking there.

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All should remember, if you make an exception once, then every other owner will ask for an exception to the rules.

Even when we don’t make exceptions, we are accused of making exceptions.

In the long run, it is always better to not make exceptions. Why? Who wants to take the time (at the pay you receive from the coop) to examine and reflect upon each exception request and to then have an attorney prepare the appropriate documents.

And, who wants to expend valuable time to defend challenges to refusals to grant exceptions? Isn’t it easier to say we have never granted an exception?

This is especially true as so many co-ops have a revolving door for board members and what the board did today and the reasons will be lost, but someone will remember that an exception was made.

And as for not living here, hmmmm??

We have no mortgage as our fiscal plan over the last twenty-five years has had but one thought e.g.: retire the debt without refinancing. Along the way we have also made considerable ($millions) in capital improvements. And for a luxury building, we are one of the lowest cost buildings in our area for similar luxury buildings.

Oh, did I mention, we are almost 100% resident ownership with just a few sponsor units occupied by protected seniors renting. Yes, less than 2% of our 500 units are in the hands of the sponsor.

Perhaps if others did not try to run popularity contests for board membership and adhere to total fiduciary responsibility there wouldn’t be so many co-ops in fiscal distress.

And, let me add that my analysis of many coops in my area and there readings herein cause me to opine that many boards are naïve as the folks have never run a corporation.



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in fact our building never has any problems with sublets and often th renters are more considerate than the owners. it is also a very nice convenience for owners who need the $ or get posted away for a while.

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I'm appalled by the self-righteousness of this board-member's replies. ("Oh, did I mention...?" How nasty and smug.) To hear him put it, any breach whatsoever in the wall of subletting would result in fiscal chaos.

First, that kind of false dichotomy wouldn't be stood for in freshman debate.

Secondly, leadership requires using judgment and knowing that in business as in anything else, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is authoritarianism, not leadership. Given the economic downtown, for example, what happens if a newly unemployed owner has trouble making payments, and can't find a buyer? Harold, judging by his statements, would rather see the apartment go to foreclosure than allow a renter that the owner might be able to find as a stopgap measure.

And incidentally, the correct grammar is "fewer than 2% of our 500 units," not "less than 2%..." -- the units are discrete entities. Less sand, fewer grains of sand.

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Our building consisting of 58 units converted to a co-op in 1982 and we had an unlimited sublet policy until 1998. In 1998, the co-op board decided to impose a 2/5 sublet policy.
When this policy was implemented, it encouraged owners who were subletting their apts continuously to sell after the 2nd year. Consequently, the number of sublet apts dwindled to less than a handful, to 3 or 4.

The board decided in 2006 to amend the 2/5 policy to 3/5 (three consecutive years out of five) policy to allow shareholders more flexibility. At this time, the board decided to increase the sublet fee. This more flexible policy has not increased our sublets.

Today, our co-op is 100% occupied by our shareholders.

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Dogs, Waste, and Terraces - BN Oct 15, 2008


Very disagreeable shareholder with history of house rule violations/arrears etc. acquirs three dogs without permission as stated in HR. Her unit has a terrace/patio intended only for her use amd is visible to other units. Shareholder is training the dogs to defecate and unrinate on wee wee pads on patio. This is for several weeks now. This routine is disturbing other shareholders from a civility point of view and a nuisance in terms of bringing dogs out all hours of night and loud talking of owner. She uses a lot industrial cleaners on the concrete that produce fumes in nearby units. Does anyone else have a situation where pet owners are not walking dogs and using private terraces/yards as a dog run? It is not a friendly situation to begin with between other shareholders and this person.

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If the board did not already write her letters abut the illegal dogs then you have a problem. There is time frame....

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Yes, we did, without going into detail, there has been notice served, However, we were just wondering, the non-Board approval withstanding, whether there were any past cases of shareholders with dogs defecating on outdoor private premises we could learn of. Who would ever have thought to put in a prop lease that animals were not allowed to defecate on terraces, rear yards. I know people paper train dogs to go inside their own apts. but that is different-it remains within their unit. The question is, is the terrace the same as in their own unit?

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BN: Could the dogs be puppies, or dogs that previously lived in a house with access to the outdoors, and not paper-trained? Maybe your SH is training them on the terrace so he won't have to do it in his apt. It's a chore, and can be a smelly one, especially in an apt if space is very limired, to paper-train 1 dog, let alone 3.

Per law, people who get dogs in a no-dogs building or don't have permission for them if it's required must be notified within 90 days of when you first know about them that they can't stay and go to another home.

I assume you won't give the SH permission to keep the dogs. If he won't relocate them, ask your coop attorney what to do. If you don't have one or he don't know the answer, call the ASPCA at 212-876-7700 and ask them what to do. If whoever you talk to doesn't know, he can probably refer you to someone who does. Their Humane Law Enforcement Dept. only deals with pets that are abused or neglected. I don't know if they can help with your situation, but it's worth a call.

If you let the SH keep the dogs, tell him to put a tarp or non-transparent shield around the terrace so neighbors can't see the dogs. Hopefully, this terrace issue is temporary if the SH is paper-training them. If odors of cleaners are offensive, tell the SHs he's interfering with the right of other SHs to enjoy their apts. If this doesn't work, the only other thought I have is to consult your MA and/or coop attorney.

I hope my comments here are of some help.

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Thanks for your response. The dogs are puppies but this does not appear to be a temporary training situation--the shareholder fully intends to use the rear patio as a dog run and has no intentions of walking the dogs for purposes of them relieving themselves. The situation is offensive to other shareholders who have to view wee wee pads on patio 24/7 outside their windows and have to listen to the training sessions as they occur. They will not be given Board Approval and we have exercised our rights within the time frame as regards making sure we do not waive rights. Just wondering what other Boards have done or would do in this case. We are dog-friendly but this situation has never come up before. All other pet owners are shreholders in good standing and take dogs out to releive themselves or keep paper WITHIN their units.

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BN: If your SH uses his patio as a permanent dog run and won't walk the dogs outside, and if the sight and odor of training pads and cleaners + listening to the SH training the dogs is disturbing neighbors, I suggest you ask your coop lawyer what to do. These acts are, from what you say, obviously preventing the SH's neighbors from being able to enjoy their apts which would be a breach of the Proprietary Lease.

Also, although none of your other current SHs let dogs use their patios in this way, maybe your board should enact a policy or add terms to the House Rules that clearly outline what is and isn't permitted re: the maintenance of dogs (or other pets) within the building so this type of issue can be avoided in future with other SHs.

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managing agent and your monthly bill - Joe Oct 14, 2008


our managing agent has been responsible for placing two incorrect charges on our recent monthy bill. the man in charge of billing told me that the MA had specifically requested both charges be placed on the bill. Is it common for managing agents to request charges be placed on shareholders bills? what if the fee is obviously incorrect to theman in charge of billing? does he hold and responsibility?

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Joe - I'm not clear on whether the charges your MA placed on your monthly bill were for all SHs or for one specific SH.

The MA can, for example, bill a specific SH for apt work the SH is responsible for that the coop's plumber, electrician, etc. did, or if the work included items like faucets or lighting that the SH wanted replaced or had to be replaced. A SH may also be billed for damage s/he caused to the building. The MA can bill a SH for such charges. If the SH thinks the charges are incorrect, he should talk to the MA about it.

If charges were billed to all SHs for things that all SHs have to pay, the board should be aware of it and know if the charges are correct or not. If there's a question and the MA cannot, or will not, explain it to the board's satisfaction, the board should discuss it with the mgmt firm's billing dept and/or one of the MA's superiors. The MA is usually the liason between them and the coop board, but if mgmt thinks an error has been made and can provide proof of it, the board should make sure that it is corrected.

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Return assessment? - BP Oct 11, 2008


A friend asked me this and I don't know the answer. His coop started a 2-year assessment in June. All SHs paid through October. The board just sent all SHs a memo saying they're suspending the assessment for 6 months, or maybe longer. In January, maintenance goes up and the NYC R.E. abatement/assessment starts again. The board thinks, with the current economic situation, some SHs may lose their jobs or otherwise not be able to pay all the charges in the relative near term.

A group of SHs want the money they've paid on the assessment so far returned to them now. My friend is one of them. He says they don't know if the assessment will be resumed in 6 months, they don't want the money they've paid for it used for other things, and they'd rather have the money back in their pockets for now when they may well need it.

Should the coop return the assessment money to the SHs? Are they legally obligated in any way to return it? Appreciate any replies.

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Folks,

As always it depends on the corporation’s by-laws. Yes, most allow the collection of assessments for capital improvements and for capital reserves. Some by-laws mandate that a capital reserve fund be maintained. It is also good fiduciary practice to have a capital reserve fund as well as a regular reserve fund. Does the co-op have any “reserve” funds or does the corporation live hand to mouth?

Our 500 unit co-op typically has a capital reserve fund hovering near $1,000,000 (which fluctuates dramatically during the year as we have an AICPA mandated twenty-year capital asset evaluation program and plan of funding capital improvements each and every year, e.g.; elevators, generator, windows, roof, driveways, boilers, parking garage decks, recreation deck, swimming pool, tennis courts, fire detection system, computers, roof fans, etc.) and a working capital reserve fund near $500,000.

Yes, we assess each and every year, and even the assessment does not fluctuate. It increases slightly each year. It is collected during ten of twelve months each year to meet IRS regulations regarding separation of ordinary income and capital assessment income.

So my vote is that corporation gets to hold the funds if the by-laws mandate the collection and maintenance of the reserve fund.

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can the board do this? - rene Oct 10, 2008


Hi Everyone,
Does anyone know if a coop board is legally required to put bars on a 1st floor window? Also our board is pushing through such an action despite the objections of the treasurer and asst. treasurer and a pending $141k oil bill that we are not sure how we will pay. As treasurer I feel that the board is going behind the backs of the people who are in charge of managing the money to pay for non-emergency items. The president called an "emergency" meeting about the bars and recruited a board member who has only attended 2 meetings all year in order to vote for the board to pay for the windows despite my financial objections. Does anyone have any thoughts on what i should do next, i am so frustrated and think that spending actions like this are one reason why the building is in such dire financial straits.

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According to a discussion on tenant.net, the lessor (the co-op corporation in your case) is NOT required to install security bars on windows, only child safety guards.

I have no idea if this is accurate, but the poster seemed pretty sure about it.

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In this instance, I'd say the Board should check with your co-op's legal counsel for an opinion on the liability issues involved. My gut says it's the responsibility of a Shareholder for the windows in their apartment, and the responsibility of the co-op for bars on windows in the common areas.

How is this any different from gates on windows off fire escapes, which are up to individual Shareholders?

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Regardless who is responsible the coop should make sure the bars/gates are of the approved kind. You do not want anyone trapped inside in case of fire.

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Check with your co-op counsel; if you wish not to spend money check the NYC Builidng Code as to what is required.

Finally, if it is not required, your Board may wish to keep it standard. So, you may wish to have the Board specify the type of bars (ornamental, plain, with A/C space accommodation, etc. so that the first floor is standard.

AdC

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In my view, it depends. If the building is in an area which experiences higher crime rates than neighboring areas or where street level break-ins are prevalent, then it may behoove the co-op to install “security bars” as opposed to child safety guards.

But, it is not cut and dry.

In this case (crime deterrence vs. child protection), an owner subject to a break-in may be able to sue the co-op for not protecting the owner’s quiet enjoyment of the domicile.

The counter argument is that the shareholder can install a suitable burglar alarm system to deter break-ins.

Since the safety of all residents, not just those on the ground level, is important to all residents and the quality of life in the building, it can thus be opined that the co-op should upon prudent reflection fund and install aesthetically pleasing security bars.

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Do you want the bars? If you want the bars and the building is telling you to pay for them then they are correct. If they want the bars and you don't then I seem to recall a recent case where the building wanted to put the bars and the shareholder didn't want them. The shareholder won. If they want the bars and want you to pay, they should pay you for the decrease in value for your apartment. What about an alarm system?

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investors in a coop - sta Oct 06, 2008


how bad is it for a coop when "investors" start buying sponsor apartments in the building? Cons?

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Always better when you have resident owners. Sublets tend not to have a real interest in the building: how it looks, what's going on, etc. Having a higher percentage of resident owners is better for mortgage-seekers, too, I believe.

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Investors (holders of unsold shares) also do not need board approval to sell to other investors, or to sublet. If your co-op has sublet fees, they are also not subject to them.

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Especially now that we are going back into a time of very tight credit -- banks want to see a high percentage of owner-occupants, which investors will never be.

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PROS: If the investor is "designated by the Sponsor" (in the language
of the Offering Plan), this usually means that a guarantor is backing
up the deal in case of default. We actually had four such apartments
in our building -- all rent-controlled -- that were sold by the
sponsor to various investors under such an arrangement. In the dark
co-op days of the early 1990s, *all* of the investors defaulted.
Luckily, the guarantor (Fannie Mae) continued to pay maintenance
until the apartments were sold to new investors in the late 1990s.

This was especially important to our co-op because the sponsor
defaulted as well! The rent on the rent-controlled apartments
didn't even come close to covering their share of operating expenses,
so the shortfall would have come out of the pockets of our
shareholders if it weren't for Fannie Mae.

CONS: A true "Holder of Unsold Shares" requires no Board approval
to sell, sublet, or renovate the unit. The subletting issue is
usually the worst problem, since an investor can essentially
turn the apartment into a rental unit and there's nothing you
can do about it.

A sticky question remains unresolved: what happens if the shares
are sold to an investor *not* designated by the sponsor? Is that
follow-up investor *also* a Holder of Unsold Shares with the
right to bypass the Board on sale/sublet/renovations? For years,
guidelines from the Attorney General's office said that such a
person had no special rights, but this was overturned in 2005
in Kralik v. 239 E 79. Under Kralik, until a shareholder lives
in the apartment (for even a day), *any* investor is a Holder
of Unsold Shares.

Kralik was decided by New York's highest court (the Court of Appeals)
and remains the official standard. In 2007, however, the judge in
Sassi-Lehner v. Charlton Tenants Corp. ruled that the Offering Plan
was the "crucial cooperative document." This meant that only an
investor specifically designated by the sponsor -- typically with
a guarantor in place -- was a Holder of Unsold Shares. This makes
sense, as the co-op receives the benefit of a guarantor in exchange
for giving up its Board approval rights.

This is a messy issue and it may not have a definitive answer
any time soon. For the moment, it's probably best to assume
that any investor whatsoever will have special rights that are
not beneficial to the co-op.

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Oil buying group - Bronx coop board member Oct 06, 2008


Does anyone have experience with Pilgrim Oil as a source for heating oil? How is the service and prices? Thank you.

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