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Has anyone used Maxx Management - Formerly known as JRD Mgmt - Francis Solara Jr. May 10, 2007


I'm thinking about including them in a bid for a management role.

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Maxx was our managing agent for 7 years. Once they took over, they really got our building into shape. The property manager worked closely w/ our super (who complained a lot but he needed a babysitter), and the account executive assigned to our property always replied to questions or problems from board members and residents promptly. We'd still be with them if it wasn't for their new $25K minimum management fee (nearly 40% increase over what we were paying).

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We used JRD several years ago. We fired them after less than a year. We went through three property managers in that time. One of them took far too many liberties running the building (without consulting the board). We lost a lawsuit in part -- but maybe only a quarter part; there were other issues -- because of this person.

After hiring a new mgt co, we didn't get all of our records back.

There were no financial irregularities, however, and I can't imagine that the same property mgr still works for Maxx.

If it's a new company, it may be just fine. As I mentioned, this example is from several years ago.

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any bad experiences with Century?

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city council bill 119 - LARRY May 05, 2007


Does anybody have any ideas on how to fight this bill?

I feel all co-ops should ban together to defeat this bill.

How can we do it?

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so, tell us, what is yrou real problem with this bill (and dont say that it open up boards to lawsuits because that is a cheap answer) - you do not like being held accountable? what is your real issue? I think it is a long overdue bill. why shouuldn't people be told why they have been turned down? in reality there can only be one legitimate reason, which is financial. this rule eliminated personal agendas form board members - it is a good thing.

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it is such a good idea, i am calling my rep. now:

Home
Coop Disclosure Law Intro 119
Submitted by Bernadette E. on Mon, 02/27/2006 - 12:00pm.
We recently collected your feedback on the Fair and Prompt Coop Disclosure Act, resolution 119 in the City Council. The resolution, reintroduced by Council Member Monserrate, would require coops to put their cards on the table when they turn someone down. The bill that has had almost unanimous support in the Council's Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. DFNYC members were overwhelmingly in favor of supporting Intro 119.

There are more than 300,000 coop units in the city, slightly more than half outside of Manhattan. An article from yesterday's Real Estate Section illustrates the fact that the problem of non-disclosure effects all socioeconomic segments of the coop market (I've attached a PDF of the article along with the bill's fact sheet).

While not every instance of non-disclosure represents an instance of unlawful discrimination, the fact that coops have not had to explain their reasons has made fighting discrimination in coop transfers much more difficult than it ought to be. The bill only requires that reason be set forth in writing (a) timely and (b) with specificity. If the coop has done that, the coop has complied.

Right now, consumers have more rights to fight out why they have been turned down for a department store credit card, than they do for a home that they, the seller, the brokers, and a bank all thought they were qualified for.

TAKE ACTION: The Anti-Distrimination Center of Metro New York has asked that we call our Council Members and ask them to co-sponsor this bill. Find you council member at our Contact Your Representative page.

Include your name, address, and phone number whenever you contact your representative and tell them you are a member of Democracy for NYC.

If your council member has already co-sponsored the resolution, it’s nice to thank them. View a list of current co-sponsors.

Read the legislation.

Attachment Size
Intro199FactSheet.pdf 107.12 KB

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Hi, Larry,

Please see the earlier series of posts on this question, a few entries down.

Yes, co-ops should aim to defeat the bill.

Not because we love discrimination and want to protect our smoke-filled back-rooms.

But because:

- laws already exist to outlaw discrimination against the protected classes. The state a.g. prosecutes these complaints.

- bill 119 gives real estate agents, of all people, the right to sue when their clients are turned down (in addition to the applicants). Why real estate agents?

- by putting their reasons to deny an application to someone in writing, boards open themselves up to lawsuits. If you don't believe me, just imagine a really aggressive attorney reading over that letter.

- if New York State corporate law should be changed, change the law! Don't try to write laws around it.

- the bill limits co-op rights and adds billable hours to law firms.

- any denial letter will be written so vaguely and blandly that no one will know what the real issues were.

- if a board wants to deny an applicant because of her race/religion/disability/sexual orientation, they will still do so ... they just won't say so!

I say, let's let the existing laws work before larding the books with more laws.

Steve

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Isnt the "beauty" of a co-op that you collectively get to choose who you want as your neighbors.

Admittedly, discrimination has no place in the decision.

Although one must recognize that some boards may be discriminatory, there are already laws and statutes which govern this and make it illegal. These boards, one must believe, can and will be held accountable for their discriminatory ways.

This may be idealistic....but to pass a bill requiring boards to announce any reason they rejected an applicant seems absolutely ridiculous.

Any council member who votes in favor of this should be voted out of office just as quickly as any board member who is uncovered to have acted with discrimiation as his motive.

This should be the message.




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You are correct. This law only will make co-ops spend more money. We will be brought to court for no reason or any reason. You then have to notify your insurance company, your lawyer.

We went thru this found not guilty, cost us $3000. to defend. The accusing party only had to make the complaint..

By the way they also name the Board of Directors in the action.

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Hi, David,

I agree that the bill is ridiculous, but I'm not so certain it's doomed to failure. There's plenty of support for it on the council, and among the people of NYC too. After all, ask anyone if they're for or against discrimination, and you know the answer.

My neighborhood has a group of owners (coops, condos) who are drafting a letter in opposition to 119 to send to our city council member and Christine Quinn.

Please write your city council member and send a copy to Speaker Quinn (she's on our side). You can find your council member's contact info at www.nyc.gov (look on the left, under "Elected Officials," and click on "City Council").

Get active! Encourage your neighbors and board to make a difference!

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Does anyone know how many discrimination complaints against co-ops have been made under existing (state) law? If not, any ideas how to find out?

I'm wondering how big a problem this really is. Certainly, for the applicant who has been discriminated against, it's devasting. But is there a real epidemic of co-op discrimination? How many boards have been sued by the Attorney General's office?

(And even if there is a problem, is the best way to address it to have another jurisdiction enact a law that duplicates one already in effect?)

Lawyers, please help!

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Steve,

In NYC it is open season against coops. All a person has to do is file a discrimination claim against the co-op and the board and you have to defend it. That means your insurance , your lawyer.

If the court finds that there is no merit to the case,you win but you pay your attorney and the deductible for your insurance. The person making the claim pays nothing.
So you win and lose at the same time.

Having to explain why you rejected a person makes for another reason to be brought to court.We have enough laws about discrimination without adding fuel to the fire.

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I totally agree, Larry.

Most people don't realize that already there are laws on the books against discrimination and that they are not only used, they are used sucessfully.

Our managing agent told our board a story as a warning not to take notes: A couple applies to buy. They're interviewed; one is Caucasian, the other is African-American. The board denies the purchase (for, we assume, a perfectly legal reason). The couple sues. The board members' notes from the meeting are subpoened. Turns out one board member wrote "mixed race."

Case didn't even go to trial -- the co-op had no choice but to concede.

Now, perhaps the person who made the note was bigoted. But maybe the note was just to help remember the couple, nothing more.

My point is that co-ops already have to meet legal standards that prohibit discrimination, and they don't always come down on the right side of the law.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm part of a neighborhood group of co-op & condo owners who are drafting a letter in opposition to the bill that we will send to our city councilmember. Please consider doing the same!

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Steve: My guess is, discrimination complaints against coops under current law aren't overwhelming because there's no law that lets buyers (and real estate agents) make coops such an easy target to shoot at. That's what proposed Bill 119 calling for written reasons for rejection would do.

As Larry said, it's open season against coops. There are valid discrimination cases in many arenas, but people yell about civil rights at the drop of a hat. If all it takes is filing a form to claim coop discrimination, the AG's office will be inundated, esp since a buyer or agent won't have to waste his time, energy or money to pursue the matter.

I don't care how many complaints against coops have been made. I care about: 1) the can of worms opened if buyers or agents have free reign on this, 2) the time and energy that boards/management will have to spend on frivolous/unfounded claims, and 3) the legal fees coops will incur for their attorneys to handle these issues.

Presumably, the AG's office would investigate thoroughly and be discerning enough to know what complaints may be valid. But if you think the courts are bogged down now, imagine how the dockets will fill up if complaints against coops for discrimination against buyers start pouring in.

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I totally agree, BP.

My co-op is part of a neighborhood group of owners (mostly residents of co-ops and condos) and we're drafting a letter in opposition to this bill that we will send to our representatives in city hall.

Please consider doing the same!

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Steve - My coop is also getting our shareholders to sign a letter or petition opposing Bill 119.

To all here - The City Council will pass or reject this bill, so the best person to send letters/petitions to is your district councilman or councilwoman. If you don't know his/her name and office address, go to www.nyc.gov. On the left under "Elected Officials" click on "City Council" and there you can get the info you need.

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BP is right -- write your city council member! Get your neighbors to join in, either as co-signers or in writing their own letter. Send a copy to the council speaker, Christine Quinn, who is on our side. She's blocking the bill from consideration, but faces lots of opposition. She could use our support.

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Emial has changed the checks and balances in the mananegement relationship. Mananegent can no longer ignor our complaints... because of the Email trail.

Is there an Email address that we can all send our objection to this bill.

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Go to:

www.nyc.gov

On the left, under "Elected Officials," click "City Council."

On the right, under "Quick Links," click "Find My Council Member."

You'll then enter your address and borough. When your council member's page comes up, click his/her e-mail address.

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It would seem to me that without ANY reason given, there is no way most people could sue, or that they would even be privy to why they were denied.(what an IDEAL world) Unless someone on the board would put their own building at risk by opening their mouth. I have seen boards bend backwards to look the otherway at things that you would normally be denied for, for the "right" type of potential new neighbor, and then decline someone with a much stronger postion, who just wasn't a good "fit".

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Certainly it's not easy. But co-ops do, in fact, lose discrimination lawsuits in State Court. The attorney general prosecutes such cases; anyone who believes she has been the victim of discrimination needs to contact Cuomo's office, where the staff will walk her through the process of filing a complaint. She will not need an attorney or to spend her own money.

Current laws aside, do you think that it's going to be easier to sue if a board puts in writing that a buyer's finances aren't up to par?

Even if that's the case, a lawyer will still have to convince a judge/jury that discrimination took place INDEPENDENT OF the financial issue.

Anyone expecting a co-op board to write, "We denied your application because you use a wheelchair" or "we don't like teenagers" is going to be disappointed. Even if boards do discriminate -- I agree that we're not in an ideal world -- they will come up with a thoroughly legal reason to turn the buyer(s) down.

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REBNY & CCNYC CONTENT FORWARDED:
Discrimination is prohibited in Board admissions procedures. Each Board’s application process must comply with the following laws: The Federal Fair Housing Act, The Civil Rights Act, The New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, Protected Categories: There are currently fourteen protected categories under which claims can be brought against a New York City cooperative either in the courts or before a city, state or federal administrative body if a prospective purchaser believes that a rejection was due to discrimination because of their: Age, Disability, Partnership Status, Alien Status Gender(including gender identity), Race, Children(or childless state), Lawful Occupation, Religion, Country of National Origin, Marital Status, Sexual Orientation, Creed, Military Status. It is unlawful to discriminate or refuse to sell or rent to a person based on any of the above named 14 categories. These categories cannot be referred to in any advertisement offering or seeking property for sale or rental. These laws prohibit the representation to any person that a dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental, when the dwelling is in fact available. It is also prohibited to make any representations in connection with the purchase, sale, or rental of any property, that there will or may be physical deterioration of dwellings in the area, and regarding changes that have occurred or may occur in the racial or religious composition of a neighborhood. To protect itself from unfounded claims of discrimination, it is important for a Board to develop a carefully conceived policy and clearly stated procedures in the handling of applications. Historically, the right of the Board of Directors of a cooperative to allow or withhold consent from a sale, for any reason, other than the above cited classes, or for no reason, has been recognized and protected by the courts. Members of a cooperative corporation have the right to decide for themselves with whom they would like to share their community.

TO: REAL ESTATE BOARD OF NEW YORK - Residential Management Council
Re: Intro. 119 of 2006, the Fair and Prompt Coop Disclosure Law
..........the City Council is again taking up the Fair and Prompt Coop Disclosure Bill (Intro 119/06) which would require a cooperative to specifically state its reasons for rejecting a purchaser within 5 days of making such decision. The bill states, “This requirement includes identifying: each element of the purchaser’s application which was found … to be deficient, any specific ways that the application failed to meet any specific policies, standards, or requirements of the cooperative corporation, and the source of any negative information relied upon by the cooperative corporation in connection with any of its reasons for withholding consent.

The statement must be calculated to enable a prospective purchaser to take specific steps to remedy any specific deficiencies in that prospective purchaser’s application.” Board members must certify that the statement includes all of their reasons for the rejection and imposes serious monetary penalties on the cooperative for failure to provide such a statement.

REBNY has strongly opposed this legislation in the past on numerous grounds:

• First and foremost, there are substantial protections in existing Federal, State and City laws against discrimination of fourteen protected classes of individuals. A complaint under these laws will result in an exhaustive investigation during which the coop will essentially have to prove it did not discriminate.

• It will only result in increased litigation.

• It undercuts the legitimate and well established rights of cooperatives to set standards for buyers.

• It will delay transactions, and could easily keep units where complaints have been made off the market for months or years while the complaint is being resolved.

RMC members are urged to recommend that their clients contact their City Council member to oppose this bill. It is being pushed very hard by the sponsors and it is essential that Council members hear the other side. A sample letter for coop boards is attached and will be on our web site. Coop boards can easily find their council member and contact information at the website:
http://www.nyccouncil.info/constituent/index.cfm.

A copy of the bill can also be found at:
http://webdocs.nyccouncil.info/textfiles/Int01192006.htm?CFID=991187&CFTOKEN=52384671.

FORM*******************************


Dear ,

As a (board member or officer) of (address), a (#) unit cooperative in your district, I am writing to ask that you oppose Int. No. 119 of 2006 which is before the City Council. If passed, this legislation would require cooperative boards to state their reasons for denying approval to a potential buyer, with each board member certifying a stated reason for rejection within 10 days of the board’s decision. While that may sound like a good idea, it will have extremely negative impacts on cooperative buildings without increasing potential purchasers’ rights.

As you are aware, New York City cooperatives are a highly popular form of home ownership in our city. More than 332,000 households own shares in a cooperative corporation which holds title to the residential building. The corporation is governed by a board of directors, which like any corporate board, has substantial fiduciary and legal responsibilities to their shareholders. Recent court decisions have uniformly upheld the board’s right to make decisions on governing the corporation in privacy, applying the business judgment rule which prohibits judicial inquiry into actions of corporate directors taken in good faith and in the lawful and legitimate conduct of the corporation’s affairs.

Int. No. 119 of 2006 will drastically restrict the rights of co-op board members, shareholders and property managers. It will also significantly delay transactions which will hurt the coop market as a whole. More important, it will substantially increase litigation in the marketplace, and make it difficult for coops to recruit qualified shareholders to volunteer their time to be a part of a co-op board.

Any discrimination by board members is expressly forbidden in City, State and Federal law. Currently, under the City Human Rights Law, the New York State Civil Rights Law, and the Federal Fair Housing Act, cooperative boards are prohibited from discriminating against a potential buyer on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, military status, sexual orientation, age pregnancy, or disability. There are remedies within each of these statues for a party who believes he has been discriminated against. The legislation does not add to these protections – that are already in place.

I urge you not to pass this legislation into local law.
Sincerely yours,

(T2)

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


Thank you, Thomas!

Excellent points that fill in many of the gaps we were trying to address.

Others: Read Thomas's post and cut & paste his suggested letter into your own document to mail to your city council member. Remember to cc it to Speaker Christine Quinn.

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Unless you have a open meeting with everyone there. Boards will find a way to discriminate.You are asking to keep a secret process.That does and will discriminate

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annual meeting not being held!! - ba May 05, 2007


Our annual meeting (coop) must legaly be held the second Tues of May. This year, they are missing this date and have not announced another date - this seems to be a major violation of the law as well as the prop lease. what can we do??

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Last year our SH meeting was three months late, due to the fact that the financials were not finished. This year, there are no financials but the board is going through with the meeting. Which, since the financials are the main intrest -- is a waste of time. Its in our bylaws that the financials have to be completed by the May meeting. And most SH, instead of blindly moving foward, would prefer to wait...

Does anyone know if its legal to hold a shareholders meeting without the financials?

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Alice, if your P.L. or by-laws state that you must have the financials done by a certain date, and that the annual meeting must take place on a date after that, you don't need to postpone the annual meeting until the financials are done.

However, if your P.L. or by-laws state that the financials must be done before the annual meeting, then you're probably out of luck.

Either way, please check with your co-op attorney (I'm not a lawyer -- just guessing here).

Steve

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ba: Coops must hold annual meetings. If your board won't do it, ask your attorney what to do. If he's no help, you can request a "special meeting of shareholders". It's Article II of most coops' by-laws. Any shareholder can make such a request. It must be submitted in a letter (send certified, return receipt) to the board secretary and must include a petition signed by shareholders holding at least 25% of all outstanding shares (25% of shares, not the shareholders). If this is done the board must schedule a "special meeting" and send notice of it to all shareholders not less than 10 or more than 40 days before the meeting.

Important: Per by-laws, ONLY business stated in the notice to shareholders can be transacted at a "special meeting" - nothing else, unless ALL coop shares are present at this meeting in person or by proxy.

So if you want this meeting to, in effect, be your annual meeting, you better make that clear in the letter you send with a petition. Say something like: "I and the signers of the enclosed petition representing holders of at least 25% of all the coop's outstanding shares hereby request that a special meeting be held, at which all business transacted reflect all that which would be transacted at a 2007 annual meeting which has not been scheduled as required." Check the wording of your letter with your attorney and also ask in the letter that the board reply promptly to this request.

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The annual meeting and annual report don't have to be tied together. Otherwise, your BL would specify it. Obviously, it's good to know that there was closure from the outgoing board and a report was rendered from the previous year's operations.

Finally, the annual meeting is prescribed to take place (under our BL) to take place a certain week in May, but reality is that at one time it was pushed until October. Approx. 4 years ago, we try to schedule it immediately after the release of the annual report.

Reasons for delays in the annual meeting:

1. Scheduling conflicts: if you invite your co-op counsel and independent accountant as well as your management, there will always be difficulties in trying to come to a day in the calendar in May or June. REASON: These people are also hired by other co-ops and guess what??? To this you add the board schedule and the scheduling process becomes FRUSTRATING at least if you do the coordination.

2. There are times in which the annual report is delayed because your accountant has its own internal problems -- staffing issues, etc and does not get in time to release your audited statement until late April or May.

3. Finally, since the annual meeting takes place 5-7 months into the new year, the annual report loses to a great degree its relevance. Don't get me wrong; as a fresh piece of reporting is like reading the NYTimes that you got 3 weeks ago while you where on an extended European tour: you may save your favorite sections, but the current content you may are not bound to pay too much attention.

This is why I advocate for boards to publish more updated income statements (at least on a quarterly basis) with a "disclaimer statement" regarding the fact that the figures are unaudited, subject to change due to reclassifing of expenses, etc. This would add transparency and when the time of the annual report comes, you do not only discuss "old" info, but new one according to the current operations to add more relevance to your annual meeting.


AdC


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I agree with AdC re: the annual report with one exception. He's for publishing a financial report for owners at least quarterly with a "disclaimer" that it's unaudited, etc. I know boards at coops who told me they wish they'd never done this. I'm just noting here what they told me...

-- Owners only know what they see. It's hard to re-program their thinking if a figure in a quarterly report jumps out at them in a negative way then you try to explain it was reclassified into several categories. It may reflect very reasonable annual expense for each category but this isn't what owners remember seeing. It's like getting a new boiler with state-of-the-art sensors/monitors. Owners don't see that. All they care about is having heat when it's cold.

-- One coop distributed the monthly report (that the board usually gets) to save accounting the trouble of preparing reports just for owners. It prompted many calls/questions. Unfortunately too, whoever put together the first mailing to owners included the "owner ledger" pages so everyone saw all the maintenance amounts, who was late in payment, etc. This caused an uproar. It was an "accident" at one coop - but maybe it could happen at any coop?

-- Another coop said many owners don't read (or understand) the annual report and those who question or complain about expenses are few and usually the same ones every time. The board decided it was a waste of time to publish quarterly reports for this reason.

Some boards told me they think the only "financial" issue most owners want to know is if there will be a maintenance increase or assessment. They come to the annual meeting to find out, and to ask why the coop pays to repair a pipe in their wall but they have to pay to re-paint the wall.

I agree that "old" info given, say, quarterly with "new" info based on current operations or audited reports can add relevance to an annual meeting. I'm just not sure if such comparisons are relevant to enough owners to warrant the extra time, effort and cost they entail.

I'd like to hear other opinions on this. Thanks.

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Years ago I worked for a major corporation that decided to make employees more knowledgeable of their department or division operations by forcing heads of divisions and departments holding quarterly meetings to review operations with ALL the employees.

While there was much window dressing on the part of managers, still there was awareness of what was going on and WHY certain business prospects did not go ahead, why the business went ahead, etc. As an employee, I used to hate such quarterly meetings at first, then became fond of them as it kept me in touch with "why some heads were chopped" or why we all got a bonus or why more effort was required in certain areas.

Probably inspired by such an example, I decided to publish a newsletter on a quarterly basis approximately 7 years ago very much reflecting the operations. I don't care if Joe Blow had a baby or if the exterminator is coming every Saturday. The Newsletter is a publications dedicated to explain operations from the board's perspective with some ounces of optimism.

YES, I spend over 20 hours of my time putting this publication together: thinking of topics, and slanting the publication so that the shareholders see the point of the board challenges. Example: In 1995 the co-op did its fuel surcharge and, it was explained WHY it was necessary: if the oil went from $1.00 to $1.25, a 25% increase means 25% in your oil budget for oil. IN 2006, the oil continued to go up, so it was rolled into the budget, not as a surcharge, but as a permanent way of life. This was again explained to shareholders and why the decision to roll the surcharge with maintenance. Therefore, it is in this type of venue that I publish the quarterly income statement.

You may say that this is a DRY publication. Well, the co-op board is there to work in a professional manner for the shareholders. Consequently, a board that is proactive in providing information cannot be accused of secretive, or doing things without people's knowledge.

In fact, the annual meeting is extremely simple. Just a reiteration of our summary of operations that is usually published as the first issue of the following year (since December figures are published after January 15th). Consequently, you EDUCATE your shareholders to the point in which increases and assessments are seen, if not like God's sent gift to the shareholder, something that is unavoidable to continue good services.

So, if there are boards who tell you otherwise, it is because they may be publishing their results without any effort to brief and educate your population. That's my opinion.

AdC

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AdC, I agree with you. Shareholders elect people to a board and entrust us with their money. We have to be accountable to them for where it goes and why. The comments in my last e-mail were from board members I know in other coops. We're open with shareholders and educating them is ongoing. We don't have newsletters but we have "issue letters" in which we explain an issue and related costs. We also send them to shareholders to keep them alert to issues we have to face, like soaring fuel prices or a major capital project so nothing is a surprise and they understand what's involved.

We have "open forums" - lobby meetings a few times a year so: 1) shareholders can discuss any issue with us, and 2) new shareholders can assimilate into the "community". Our people also feel comfortable calling mgmt with questions because they they get straight, logical answers. By annual meeting time, we aren't battered by irate shareholders because we "brought them along" with us and didn't keep them in the dark about important things.

You're right, AdC. Educating shareholders is good strategy. Reminds me of what my dad used to say that has no meaning here: Education is the horse and experience is the jockey. Just a passing memory. :-) There are always people who won't understand, or only see what they want to see, but I believe being open, honest, communicative and professional can't be anything but good for a board - and for a coop.

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Doomats - Lefty 357591 May 04, 2007


What is the governing document from NYC about Doormats,
Bicycles etc. in Hallways?

I need the exact way to find it or the code number
so I can present an unbiased statement of the law.

Thanks

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it would be under the fire code. where i douldnt know. Your insurance company may know as doormats are an issue with most insurance companies.
pg

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The whole thing (if there is NO fire code for these) boils down to liability for the building:

1. If I were to quote anything, it would be the proprietary lease to which the person subscribed out of free will: what IS defined as CO-OP PROPERTYv. what belongs to the assigned shares. The board is free to legislate on the Co-op property even without any governmental law. It belongs to the co-op and it's the board responsibility to see to it that nothing in these areas become a liability that will cost money to its shareholders (WHERE IS FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY???). No wonder TV antennaes including satellite dishes may be banned from the outside structure if you wish to clamp down on their installation. IN fact, the government has a strong statement for these.


2. The mat is the shareholder or renter, but it is placed in a common area under co-op responsibility; thus, you can declare it "ABANDONED" property and eventually dispose it if knowing the owner you provide notification (consult your co-op attorney for best procedure) and if your House Rules state "No articles in hallway including doormats -- well perhaps you specify doormats separately as a no item in hallways, for the case is the same.

3. If the infamous doormat or object in the hallway is the cause of someone's fall, the building is dragged into the liability and not the owner of the mat, who can tell you it was "abandoned property; after all, it was in co-op property.

AdC




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Under the fire code it falls under "Obstruction of Egress".
Pg

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The problem with that approach, ba, is that the co-op could be liable if someone trips on a doormat while trying to exit the apartment in an emergency. If you were a co-op owner (and perhaps you are), would you want to pay an assessment to cover the legal costs involved? Or would you prefer to have your neighbors obey the law?
Steve

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that is absolutely ridiculous. If people triped over doormats on any kind of regular basis, mankind would not not have invented the doormat.. that is stupid. even in a ruch the chances are incredibly slim of tripping over a doormat unless you are a drunk.
all respectable coops I know have doormats - especialy ones with tile floors (ie the floor and hallways are fireproof). sorry - anyone who tries to make it their petty agenda to remove their nighbors doormat is a dork. I checked withthe local firehouse - they do NOT care - they tell me the average doormat is not a problem and this is only the kind of thing that concerns buisybodies.

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Big Al,

I am sorry to say that doormats or anything else that is stored in the hallway is very dangerous, if there is a fire or a blackout the hallways are smokey/dark and yes people will trip over them I'seen happen already in my building when there was a fire on one of the floors.

You want a doormat, you must lay it inside of your apartment door.

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Big Al,

I am sorry to say that doormats or anything else that is stored in the hallway is very dangerous, if there is a fire or a blackout the hallways are smokey/dark and yes people will trip over them I'seen happen already in my building when there was a fire on one of the floors.

You want a doormat, you must lay it inside of your apartment door.

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Sorry to have to disagree with you on this one, Big Al, but you're wrong.

It's an FDNY ordinance that doormats are prohibited.

That said, my coop does not enforce the rule -- although we do point out that if we are fined because of an individual's misdeeds, the building pays the fine but puts it on the individual's account.

I don't think the rule refers to doormats at the entrance of a building, just those in front of individual apartments (but I could be wrong).

As for being drunk ... if a fire happens in the building on the night I'm drinking my favorite bottle of wine, and when I evacuate my apartment I slip on someone else's doormat and break an arm or lose a tooth, I would not hesitate to seek damages from the doormat's owner.

As for the local firehouse ... they may not care, but that doesn't mean doormats are not prohibited. (Just try asking a cop to write a ticket for someone honking his horn because traffic isn't moving fast enough -- it's illegal, but do you think the cop cares enough to write a ticket?)

Steve

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idiotic. there woukld be no assessment - if some moron managed by some miracle to trip on a doormatt - (and hello probably it would be his own doormat since it is in front if his/her door) - buiulding insuracne covers this kind of thing.

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I understand, and respect, all the pro and con comments made here about doormats. We never prohibited them, but in June '05 when a new owner was moving into one of our apts, a moving man tripped on the doormat as he was carrying in a marble pedestal. He dropped it, fell down against it, and knocked out two teeth. Our co-op's insurance had to pay all his dental expenses, about $10-12K. Since then we don't allow doormats anymore.

I just wanted to say that you don't have to be an "idiot" or a "moron" to trip on a doormat. Accidents do happen.

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I totally dig it - sorry about prior emails postings - I just felt the vibe of a buisybody neighbor coming through and am very sentitive to that. BP - you are the best web- poster out there. you say things in a totally unoffenseve and wise manner. thank you.

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And who pays for building insurance, ba? You do (if you're in a co-op or condo) through your monthly fees. As for idiots and morons, well, they're the kinds of people who are most likely to sue. If you can make a claim to your insurance company, your rates will go up -- just like car insurance after an accident that's your fault.

But insurance is unlikely to cover the doormat problem because insurance rarely covers illegal actions -- such as violating FDNY ordinances.

So if there's no insurance to cover the lawsuit, and the building loses, it comes out of the building's pockets. Which are yours. So unless your building has a huge reserve fund, you and your neighbors would likely have to pay through an assessment.

Here's a suggestion. If you don't like the law, try to change the law instead of ignoring it. Write your city council member and complain to the FDNY.

Until it's off the books, boards have a duty to enforce it.


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This is the 1st time I used this site. Answers were from absolutely incorrect to helpful in pursuit of fact - not opinion. The law does not specify doormats BUT multiple dwellings public halls.
The law is "means of egress shall be kept free and clear of encumberances at all times....
Abstract: Rules of the City of New York -. Title 28 Housing Preservation and Development §25-221 Obstruction of Exits Used as Means of Egress in Case of Fire in Various Multiple Dwellings. (a) In every multiple dwelling, public halls, stairs, corridors and passageways and every part thereof used as means of egress sh
http://24.97.137.100/nyc/rcny/title28_25-221.asp
size 2725 bytes - 4/3/2007 4:23:06 PM GMT

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Obviously, even the law could be debated as to what constitutes an "encumbrance." In other words, we are talking about a claim or liability that is attached to a property. So, those who have stated "liability issue" may not have quoted the law, but know that a mat may pose a liability issue to the building.

A building inspector may or may not see a mat as an encumbrance just like the New York Times or other paper left in front of an apartment may be taken as an encumbrance. So, a mat just like a paper may be potential encumbrances in a hallway as opinions are so divergent.

AdC





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I like your reasoning. Would you consider that a newspaper: is removed daily a doormat is always out.

up to the building inspector to decide is not in my experience how a law works

why escalate a difference.

There was a interesting film introduction to the Tribeca Film Festival with a tenant knocking on the door of another tenant who is keeping an alligator in his apartment.

On the grounds it was not specifically prohibited by the Proprietary Lease

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Sorry. I just pressed the response without one. But here it is:

The law in all its wisdom is wide open to cover ALL circumstances that may cause an encumbrance (potential liability). Obviously, something becomes an encumbrance, because there is a claim and there was a cause to the fall.

What is a potential liability in a common area?

1. A doormat (yes). It can become an encumbrance because someone may cause someone to slip and fall.

2. A newspaper that is not removed the minute it was dropped in front of a door. Yes... a person who just happened to come after the newspaper guy may just trip and fall.

3. A carpet that is not properly stretched or is torn, which may cause the heel to catch and trip and fall.

4. An uneven pavement made by a defective tile - trip and fall.

5. The wax on the floor that may cause a slip and fall, even when the floor is not wet.

YES... these are encumbrances in a common area. Not just a bicycle or a refrigerator or the old milk box in addition tot the doormat.

This is why when you are on a board or you are a manager of a builidng you look for these types of deficiencies and correct them. The wax example is just a problem in many bulidngs. In fact, I have seen buildings that wax was totally removed from a tiled floor to avoid slip and fall claims. For many years it looked terrible, but the company could not take any more of these types of accidents.

AdC



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AdC - I can see why bldgs would stop waxing lobby/hallway floors to avoid slip-and-fall claims. There are non-skid tiles that come in many nice colors/patterns-like the ones people put in bathroom and kitchen floors. I know 2 bldgs that installed them in their hallways and they haven't had any complaints or accidents. Maybe a good alternative?

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Thank you, BP. I have seen wonderful no-wax tiles and I have a wonderful ceraminc tile in my kitchen that is extremely good to prevent slip and falls.

The point I was raising with Lefty is that an encumbrance is not an object but a "potential liability." Therefore, the law is so comprehensive that a board, landlord, or management company must look for potential liability in common egres areas (e.g., hallways, lobbies, internal evacuation stairways). This is not just limited to a bike, a shopping cart, an old milk box or lab box in a commercial space, but to other things like an unstretched carpet or a slippery floor due to wax. IN fact today, I have a great problem with the cable company and their subcontractors who just out of carelessness throw to the floor the metal ends or connectors to the pavement. These metal connectors become real encumbrances if someone where to step on them. Therefore, I ask the staff to make sure they let the subcontractors know what is expected of them at the end of the job and even call the cable company and religiously report their subcontractors if they leave junk on the floor.

So, common hallways are supposed to be free of encumbrances. It is up to those with responsibility over common space to legislate what they will be tolerant to allow in their hallways, i.e., mats (yes-no), newspapers, etc.

AdC



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AdC - I agree re: what constitutes a "potential liability. BTW, we had a problem with cable men leaving junk on floors too. It was resolved but sadly. Before our no-dog policy, a SH's puppy ate a bit of cable from the hallway floor. The cable man working in that hallway didn't clean up and was leaving as the SH left his apt. It happened in a flash. Exposed filaments on the cable punctured something and the puppy hemorrhaged. We had hallway video of the whole thing. It went to court and the cable company was found liable. They've been very conscientious ever since but what a shame that it had to come about that way.

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Doormats are not permitted:
1. They are a tripping hazard
2. They interfere with vacuuming by our maintenance staff
3. They interfere with carpet shampooing by our maintenance staff.
4. What if the maintenance staff does not replace a doormat properly and either the resident or another person trips?
5. Sadly a suit arises in today’s litigious world
6. We send a letter, if someone places a doormat outside their door
7. The rules prohibit doormats – simple, that’s it.

Insurance you say!
o Don’t pass it off to the insurance carrier.
o What happens when you have a claim?
o The carrier settles rather than litigate, simple as that
o What happens when you have many claims?
o Your rates rise? Or you are asked for a higher deductible.
o Either way the building bears the “financial” burden.
o What happens if you have too many claims?
o Your carrier cancels your insurance policy, just as a carrier would cancel an automobile policy when there are repetitive claims.

If someone wants a doormat, it is best placed inside the owner’s apartment.

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So-called Service Dog - Bronx Board Member May 03, 2007


Our no-dog condo was compelled by law to accept a new unit owner with a dog, because she claims it is a 'certified service animal'. She is hard of hearing (not totally deaf) and supposedly the dog assists her in certain daily activities. The dog does wear a little "Service Animal" vest when it's outside the unit. I was told that, supposedly, a service dog to the deaf alerts its owner by pawing him/her when there are phones ringing or doorbells.....but not by barking, because what good would that do if she was deaf, right? WRONG. The dog barks incessantly at every little sound. Every opening and closing of the elevator, every footstep outside her door, every jingling of someone's keys. It also rushes people in the hallways, barking on top of its lungs. It is a tiny thing, so no one is frightened of it, just annoyed. (If it were a Rottweiler with that personality I'm sure it would have been put down already.) My question is this: due to the anti-discrim laws on the books preventing us from not accepting a "service animal", we are held hostage by this woman with her poorly trained, uncontrolled mutt. What part does she have to hold up in this bargain? Does anyone know if the service animal OWNER is compelled to train their animal properly, or make sure it does not affect the quality of life of all its neighbors? All of the seeing eye dogs I've ever known never make a peep. This thing barks non-stop, and I'm wondering if it was ever trained at all...our board is starting to think we've been 'had'....any thoughts would be much appreciated.

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Bronx Board Member: There are service dogs called "hearing dogs." They are specially trained to alert owners to sounds by pawing or bumping them then to go back to the source of a sound - doorbell, smoke alarm, microwave oven bell, baby crying. This way, they lead the owner to where the sound is so the owner can take care of whatever it is.

All dogs in NYC must be licensed. People with disabilities have to submit a letter from their doctor to get a special license for a service dog for which they get a certificate from the City. There are many programs that train service dogs, and people can also train these dogs themselves.

It's odd for a "hearing dog" to bark at every sound since that doesn't help the owner. Call the MOPD (Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities) at 212-788-2830 to get info on service dog training and if an owner is responsible for barking, etc. that affects neighbors in the building.

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Thank you, BP for such a quick and helpful response! I will call that number and do my homework. And maybe the dog just needs additional training.

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Hope the MOPD can help you. It just happens that I have a longtime friend who's blind and has a service dog; that's how I knew a little bit about them.

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Problem dog, need help - BP May 03, 2007


We have one dog left from before our "no dogs" policy. It's 14 and urinates or leaks dark fluid all over the bldg. The super cleans up puddles but he's PT and when he's not here they soak into rugs or stay on floors for hours. Our lobby video isn't sharp enough to see the dog wet. Last week, we had elevator work and everyone had to use the stairs. A big puddle was found and luckily no one slipped on it and fell down the stairs. Someone could have been badly hurt.

We have no fine for things like this since we have no other dogs. We can't prove it's the dog but it has to be and it's happening almost every day. We asked the owner to put a cover on the dog when he goes in or out of the bldg or get something from a vet but he refuses and totally ignores us. The poor dog is old with problems and the owner says he's keeping the dog "to the end" no matter what.

Many residents are complaining about the wet spots and the odor especially in the elevator. What can we do?

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See previous post and responses. Similar issue was covered a while back.

FN

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Improve your recording by getting a digital camera and recorder. There is no point in having surveillance equipment that does NOT do the job. This would solve two issues one, you will have evidence of the dog, Secondly you will have usable video for what ever need you will have in the future.
Otherwise just bear with the dog until either dog or owner dies.
Pg

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That's a tough one. It's certainly true that you've learned that you need to upgrade your video system.

But I'm not sure you simply wait for the dog (or owner) to die.

Here's the important element: Puddles on steps are dangerous. The dog's owner (evidently) does not inform the super when there is a dangerous puddle, and he/she clearly does not clean up after the dog.

Ask your lawyer what can be done. There has to be something in the proprietary lease about shareholders upholding safety -- clearly this person isn't doing so.

Steve

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I had a similar problem. I requested my staff to pay a little bit more attention to people walking their dogs. I was able to narrow it down,to times dogs went out/in, pretty basic (as we have a large property and many dogs).

As our camera/recording system is pretty modern I was able to record the events quiet clearly.(Dog peeing all over the floor and the shareholder pretending nothing was happening) I did inform the shareholder (of course he blatantly denied it). Then I informed him that I had it on tape. Case closed.

You could always have someone monitor this persons comings and goings to narrow it down (and be sure). There is no substitute for a good camera/recording device. Try to find out what it would cost to rent one out for a while if you feel it is too expensive.

Best of luck Sherlock

FN

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Anonymous posts (to the good people at Habitat Magazine - Fat Nickie May 02, 2007


If anonymous posts are subject to deletion (your words). How come on the subject of " who can attend attend the annual shareholders meeting" Anon replys to Anon. Now I am not complaining but as an avid viewer of your page/web site it is almost impossible to offer advise as with all the anons I am not sure if anon is one person or a second. Many others that have had the same issue. Follow me?

Fat Nickie (only one of me)

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AS Fat Nickie noted, I'm also confused by whether "anon" on this message board is 1, 2 or more people. Can the "anon"s please use your initials or make up a nickname - New Guy, Coop-er, Board Lady, whatever? That would make it easier to know who's writing and who's responding. Thanks.

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You're absolutely right! People should sign their opinions or their curt answers by doing initials or, as BP suggests, adopt a pen name.

Finally, I think "anonymous to anonymous" plays on the issue that you are trying to bring: why would a person identify him/herself to an anonymous posting, but through an anonymous reply.

AdC

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postings like this. I formally nominate this one as well as adc's reply. totally frivilous.

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I'm all for it! As we can see from the anonymous post responding here, another down-side of anonymity is the protection it gives to impolite discourse. If you always post with the same name (whether it's a pseudonym or not), you're more likely to behave as though you were raised with manners.

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Sidewalk shed security - DN May 02, 2007


From my understanding, NYC is cracking down on the use of razor wire/barbed wire around sidewalk sheds surrounding residential buildings. For those coops who are doing facade work, has your coop found a satisfactory substitute to help ease the security fears of shareholder/tenants on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Thank you for your assistance.

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While nothing is a better deterrent then razor wire, (with the exception of electrified fence) we have used instead, motion detectors with alarms to our lobby in conjunction with one or two additional cameras. Signs posted stating surveillance and motion detectors seem to work. There is the occasional false alarm from birds or just wind but other then that it does work at least for us.
Cost is reasonable.

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Pgrech is right about the alarm. It's a good option, but make sure you have a clause in the contract that covers the alarm's malfunctions. We used one but if often failed to work and getting a money back for the times it was broken was not easy.

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Thank you, Pgrech for your helpful response.

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Garage Repairs - Gin Apr 30, 2007


We need our roof repaired in our indoor parking gargage that might take two weeks or more to repair. No cars will be able to park in the garage during this time (18 Spaces at $95). What is the normal practice, do not charge parking for this length of time, charge half or charge?

Thanks
Gin

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Two years ago we refurbished our indoor double level parking decks. Before groups of residents were dislocated, we worked with the township and obtained parking in the municipal lot (we paid for spaces) and we arranged for a local taxi service between the municipal lot and the building (24x7) via a telephone call.

Alternatively, folks could elect to park on the street.

Either way, there was no diminution of monthly recurring parking fees.

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New Board - Jeff Stoller Apr 30, 2007


A new board just gained control of our co-op and have inherited quite a number of issues that have gone unresolved for a number of years. This is the main reason we were elected.

Each time we investigate an issue we uncover more work to be done and another challenge.

We replaced our super and our management company, and while they are getting up to speed, how should we determine which issues must be tackled first.

There are so many issues that, at times, it is overwhelming.

Any advice is helpful here.

Thank you.

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I always found it best when taking over a building to make three lists. One Prioritized, one based on cost and the other by simplicity.
Then I begin to knock the simple ones while working on those that are Priority yet with in budget.
When faced with multiple issues, multitasking is important and delegation allows more to get done. Always keeping in mind that Resident Safety, Health and security are TOP issues.

Pgrech

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The new board took over and is already discouraged???

Well, it's all a problem of breathing in-out technique and understanding that the computer was not invented by Adam and Eve or Second World War did not start nor won in one day. IN other words, there are many things to accomplish but a few that we can humanly and financially accomplish in one year.

The problem is vision, will or tenacity and making sure you stay on course. As PGretch stated, prioritize is the #1 lesson; divide an conquer is the second lesson. So, once you prioritize according to financial returns and safety to the co-op, you must understand what are the financial resources the required to do #1, #2, #3 priority, etc. Then proceed according to financial resources, safety concerns and shift priorities if necessary.

Once you do this, state your goals for the year as a board so you know what you are to accomplish (divide and conquer). Don't try to be overly ambitious. Being modest about your goals according to your maintenance and reserves makes the task easier. Every year as you complete or achieve the goals BLOW the trumpet loud and clear to shareholders; they will become awayre that you have done something positive and at least, you pad yourself in the back -- no one will do it for you!

Finally, don't dwell in the past. Look forward and don't try to find justification by digging the past. The past is only good to know payment history so that you don't pay double; to know what was done that may not need to be done again. The past only drags your progress. Turn over the page and think of what you need to accomplish. Otherwise, it becomes a justification for not doing anything positive.

AdC

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Establish a long term objective (ten to twenty-five years) with a plan to meet the objectives.

1. For instance, one objective could be never to reenter the debt market.
2. Another objective is to eliminate all long term debt ten in twenty years.
3. Still another is to fund capital reserves and capital projects via assessments each year.
4. Eliminate any outstanding receivables greater than thirty days to less than 1% of monthly income.
5. Ensure that all contracts are put out to bid and assessed by competent outside consultants.
6. Reduce dependency on single suppliers


The plan can be:
1. Obtain an engineering assessment of the infrastructure within four months as required by AICPA rules.
2. Obtain a line of credit to be used only for “capital improvements” until the assessment income is available, to then be repaid each year without fail.
3. Increase monthly maintenance each year between 3% to 5.5%.
4. Establish a program to require capital assessment each year equivalent to one time or one and one-half times the gross monthly maintenance; to be collected over a six to nine month period such that funds are isolated from maintenance for IRS purposes.
5. Establish committees with friends of the “board” and with one or two board members on the committee for key areas: capital projects, maintenance of hallways and lobby; maintenance of heating and cooling plant; etc.
6. Establish a rigorous program with attorney to require payment of receivables.
7. Employ “industry experts” to assist in creating and evaluating “bid packages” as part of standard program for all major contracts bid.
8. Require that all purchases be made from multiple suppliers (round-robin) so that dependency is eliminated and maybe, not nice to say, collusion.

Use a few simple rules such as above to be the guiding light. Too many and it will be difficult.

Yes, it can be done. See my posting a few questions down.
http://disc.server.com/discussion.cgi?disc=94379;article=8107;title=Habitat%27s%20Board%20Talk

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Jeff - PGrech's advice on dealing with issues is sound - make 3 lists by priority-cost-simplicity.

If, as you say, your issues are so overwhelming, this may help: Sort them first by "subject" - financial, building, staff, owner problems, rules/policies, legal, etc. Each board member could work on a few subjects and sort them by priority-cost-simplicity (the 3 lists), then the full board can tackle all issues on each list. Delegating does get things done more effectively and quickly, assuming people given certain tasks don't slack off.

When you have many issues and each one keeps unearthing even more problems, you have to say "Wait a minute. We have to get organized before we can accomplish anything."

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If the board is overwhelmed, which can happen to a new board, perhaps getting a consultant of sorts may help to give you an detached opinion and help guide you. Having both new management, and a new super, with a new board is tough going at first. Not sure if new managing agent is detached enough for that.

It is an option the board may concider.
Pgrech

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