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Shareholder Bill of Rights (Pending) - mhb and pwh Aug 28, 2007



Re: SHAREHOLDER BILL OF RIGHTS -(pending in Senate Housing Committee) NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH Bill #119

Title of Bill: An act to amend the general business law and the real property law, in relation to enactment of a residential cooperative and condominium owner’s bill of rights.

A Must Read !!!

To review Senate Bill #2386 go to: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/distsen.cgi

Assembly Bill #5673 (same) go to: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A05673


Purpose or General Idea of Bill:

Enacts a bill of rights for owners of residential cooperative or condominium units to provide fair and equitable treatment of all shareholders or unit owners; directs the attorney general to promulgate a handbook summary of the rights of shareholders and unit owners vis-a-vis cooperative corporations and condominium associations and the procedures and processes available to shareholders and unit owners to enforce such rights.

On February 5, 2007 Senator Vincent Leibell introduced bill #S2386 where it was referred to the Senate’s Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee.

This same bill #A05673 was also introduced by Brooklyn Assemblymember Vito Lopez, Chairman of the Housing Committee.

Problem:

The bill passed the Assembly vote, passed through the Senate Housing Committee, but at the end of the session, fell apart. Senator John J. Bonacic (Republican), current chair of the Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, is opposed to the bill. Major real estate interests are against this bill, citing an impingement on the rights of the board of directors. They feel that shareholders and/or board members would be better served through education.

There is currently a move to create separate bills for coops and condos, since there are different needs for both.


Solution:

For shareholders interested in the passing of the Shareholder Bill of Rights, contact Senator Leibell and Assemblymember Lopez.

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paying off a coop - input needed - eddie Aug 28, 2007


we are 22 years into a 30 mortgage on a coop. we are also considering transfering it into a trust -

1) shall we pay it off and transfere it at the same time? there must be some advangtages to doing both at once.

2) are there really andy tax advantages to not paying off the mortgage? - the apt has increased in value 8 times over what we paid for it - maybe the interest is now so low it makes sense to just pay it off?

all input welcome - thanks.

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Eddie,

Are you referring to the corporation's mortgage on the building, or an individual shareholder's mortgage on his/her apartment?

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Your question is better served through a process of DUE DILIGENCE involving a CPA versed in Co-op accounting and a counsel that is also well-versed on trusts as a form of ownership to a multifamily property.

Obviously, different forms of ownerships have advantages and disadvantages. Taxes are not just the only consideration to examine. I think ability to obtain financing for capital programs is a main consideration: a co-op has different financial recourses than condos to provide structural preservation, but what about trusts? Would banks extend the same financing to trusts as to co-ops and condos? Also, the structure of a trust and a co-op will have to be investigated by way as to how ownership into the trust is to be transferred.

Re your question:

"2) Are there really and tax advantages to not paying off the mortgage? - the apt has increased in value 8 times over what we paid for it - maybe the interest is now so low it makes sense to just pay it off?"


My educated guess would be:

You have time to make an appropriate DUE DILIGENCE STUDY, identify appropriate CPA and Attorney to ensure that your decision is the correct one for the current shareholders and those who will buy in the future into the new form of ownership. Rather than rushing into an UNKNOWN the study should satify the current shareholders whose decision will be needed for the conversion of ownership.

Some considerations:

1 A benefits analysis should provide the foundation to sell the idea to shareholders as (1) they will lose the benefit of deducting the underlying mortgage as small as it may be (2) they may have to be assessed to immediately gain a higher value to the unit (3) reserves to improve the property may have to be used to retire the debt and convert to new ownership.

2. An engineering study should be made of your property to know your future capital program and with this determine reserves that the new ownership form should assume.


AdC



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never have I seen such a confusing reply.

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If he were to tell me that, I would accept it! So, thank you for your comments. Perhaps is that you are too elemental.

AdC

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dc - please bring back your old self

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ADC is merely pointing out that
DUE DILIGENCE
is part of being a responsible board member

-- does anyone truly believe that
simply posting a question
on this forum
is a true substitute?

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The point is simple: the nature of the question raised goes beyond anyone's advice. As you well mention, don't expect an answer for this question through this forum.

The question is by far too complex and it involves many aspects that a board must consider.

Therefore, a TRUE DUE DILIGENCE work with compentent people, board involvement and ultimately shareholders will be necessary.

Thank you for addressing Sally's posture who it seems attained a B.S. decree in DIVINITY as a posting judge.

AdC

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shareholders bill of rights - we need better laws Aug 27, 2007


Rifting off the string below...

What ever happened to last year's effort to get a coop/shareholder bill of rights? Any chance of reviving this effort?

What do people think is most crucial to include? I can think of:

--The right to privacy in one's home
--The right to review financial records of the corporation in which one owns shares
--The right to oust owners found guilty of malfeasance.

--Better laws needed

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Dear Anonymous,

Such a law wouldn't hurt, but would it really help? After all, you have those rights already.

It sounds as though what you need is a stronger proprietary lease. I'm willing to bet that yours already requires that:

* Certified financial statements be made available annually;

* Shareholders may be stripped of their right to live in their apartments (a corporation doesn't have the power to "oust" a shareholder -- you can't just take back someone's shares, whether they're in GE or your co-op -- but by preventing him from living in his apartment, you've essentially eliminated the point of holding the shares);

* Apartments may not be entered without a shareholder's permission except in emergency.

If your proprietary lease does not contain these rights, start talking to your neighbors. Convince them how important the rights are. If they agree, then call a shareholder meeting (you have the right to do so if a certain percentage of shareholders or shares calls for the meeting -- check your p.l. for the figure). At the meeting explain why the rights should be added to the p.l. and ask the shareholders to vote in favor of them.

That way you get what you want and you avoid Albany!

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Steve,

You are right -- it does.

So, then, how to enforce them?

...assuming, per an earlier poster, that the DA & AG won't get involved in individual cases falling beneath 100K or so?


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Distressed,

We need to clarify one of your points. When you say "oust an owner guilty of malfeasance," do you mean to refer to a board member, or to a shareholder who isn't on the board?

I'll assume you're referring to a board member.

I don't have first-hand experience with removing a board member. What I know is that most proprietary leases have a procedure to remove an elected director. Generally it takes a super-majority of shares (such as two-thirds), so check your p.l.) Find out who can make the motion because you want to make sure a non-director can do so. If that's the case, you need to get organized.

First, talk to your neighbors. Find out if they support you. Without their support, you won't get a vote.

Ask your neighbors to start talking to their friends in the building. You need to tally potential votes in your favor (remembering that you have to count shares, not individuals).

Basically, what you're doing is making sure that if you hold a special meeting to remove a director that you won't fail miserably, wasting everyone's time (including yours). Once you and your supporters feel you have enough votes, approach a lawyer. Removing a director must be done according to the p.l. and corporate law or else it may be invalid. You may have to hire a lawyer to get it done, unless you have an ally on the board who will allow you to charge the work to the co-op.

Once you have the lawyer's backing (to make sure you're following your co-op's rules, as well as to get some advice on how to proceed), you and your supporters can call a shareholders' meeting. That's where you will make your case and call for a vote. If you've done well, the shareholdes will consent to a vote. If you've done really well, you'll get enough votes to oust the person you target.

However, realize that the board will know what you're doing early in the process. You must be prepared to face opposition because you're accusing someone of a white-collar crime (I assume). These are highly charged issues with lots of emotion!

An alternative is to vote the person off the board at the next annual election. Run for office yourself, or find someone who's interested. If your building generally runs a slate, you should consider running an alternate slate, and get their names out a couple of months before the meeting so they can campaign door-to-door.

Which way you go depends on how much turmoil you can stomach.

Once you're on the board you can conduct forensic accounting to discover how much money is missing and, perhaps, where it went. Then you can file a civil suit against the alleged thief. According to earlier posts, civil suits are preferable to criminal suits (by the DA or AG) because buyers don't like to invest in a co-op involved in a criminal investigation.

I hope that's helpful. Others on the site may have better advice than I, so keep your ears open.

Also, search Habitat's artical archive. The magazine does a good job of explaining this stuff, and they have a legal column too, which may have dealth with this very topic in the last several years.

Good luck.

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Thank you, Steve. Yes, civil seems the way to go. Promises to be expensive for us all.

If I survive this, you won't catch me investing in a coop again. Clearly the legal protections are ridiculously inadequate against what appears (from my years of involvement in coop issues) to be widespread malfeasance and fraud, often at too low a level to interest authorities, yet very upsetting & inappropriate in one's "own" home.

If coops are to hold their (increasingly trailing)value against condos & houses, coop owners should demand the state create better legal protections -- and, failing that, make it easier to turn coops into condos.

Coops are a failed structure, in my opinion. The proof? No one dares create any more of them.

--still distressed

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Hi, Distressed,

The civil way is usually the best way to go unless you have dangerous problems.

On your other point, that co-ops are a dicey investment, I agree only partly. Like any corporation, investing in a business with others in control is never a guaranteed win-win. Just look at Enron as the worst of the worst examples, and there are plenty of other examples of corporate mischief across all sorts of businesses. Co-ops are just one example.

Why do co-op values tend to be lower than condo values? In NYC, at least, when you buy a condo you (typically) pay off your portion of the corporation's mortgage; when all the apartments are owned, there is no underlying mortgage which increases the value. In a co-op, you're typically buying only your apartment; the corporation pays the mortgage out of your maintenance fee. With an underlying mortgage, the apartment is not worth as much.

Lots of other variables, of course, but the most basic is the amount of equity in the property.

All that said, there are good co-ops out there, with honest board members. The problem is that it's nearly impossible to find out which is which until it's too late.

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All good points, Steve.

We could surely use a more transparent system for coop purchase. When I think back to mine, there's no way I would've been able to discover what was going on here. In fact, it took some years on the board, and digging t to find out.

I am still thinking of a sort of independent rating system. The residents of coops that failed or got low marks would feel suddenly inspired to help the place improve. AdC is right in a sense that it takes active -- and perhaps he/she lives in a coop of smart, involved, civic-minded people -- but what's happening here is that people seem to be surreptiously fleeing. Not how I want it to work.

Distressed

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I did not expect to respond to another of this types of messages; however, your comments provoke some thoughts:

"Coops are a failed structure, in my opinion. The proof? No one dares create any more of them."

First, I agree with you; yet, they are a MIRACLE since they still continue to exist in spite of the turmoil of the late 80's and early 90's AND in spite of the "fallen human nature" seem to reside in such multiresidential forms of ownership. Consequently, co-ops are not are not failed structures. The fact that they don't work in your case or my case, does not mean that they should be banned from the face of this earth. Otherwise, we may also call for the doom of democracy as such.

I believe the great problem is the Admissions Committee and the form it screens and selects residents. Perhaps too similar to each member after the financial test has been passed.

Thus, I propose hiring an INDEPENDENT PSYCHOLOGIST to administer a "COMPTENCE TEST" for potential shareholders. What are the traits expected after your PL has been modified to demand that shareholders are appointed without being able to refuse the appointment:

1. 100% Honesty and ethical behavior on the part of each shareholder.

2. Second component:

a. 15% of shareholders must show STRONG LEADERSHIP.
b. 40% Must be followers. These will push the agenda of the leaders.
c. 30% Highly detailed individuals. These will scrutinize the leaders and followers.
d. 15% HIghly empathetic individuals. These will advocate for indidivual rights of shareholders.

Once you have the ideal mix of shareholders, you may start having good boards that will do and take care of their fiduciary responsibilities.

Sorry to inject some fun, but I can only believe that the whole thing starts with ME and those whom I think are worthy to be called MY NEIGHBORS.

AdC

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flood insurance - rfs Aug 24, 2007


Do any of you have flood insurance for your buildings? And if so, could you recommend some insurers? We are right outside the flood zone, but were there to be a severe storm, with street sewers filling up, water would likely race into our basement and subbasement - where we have our storage areas. Even though we have a pump, if the electricity goes out all bets are off, and I am worried about our basic building equipment down below.

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It sounds like you're looking for "backup of sewers and drains" and not flood insurance. Talk to your broker about this.
If you need flood insurance, you can get it the national flood insurance program.

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Thanks, Gerry. But what about backup caused by a flood in the streets from a giant storm? The concern is if street sewers quickly fill-up, the waters may get into our 2 street-level elevators.

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Sorry for the delay in responding. I hadn't noticed your question.
Again, you really have to check with your agent as to what your insurer offers to cover the situation but I don't think Flood Insurance is necessarily the sole answer.
Here's the way FEMA describes "flood". "A general and temporary condition of parial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area of two or more properties from
Overflow of inland or tidal waters;
Unusual and rapid accumulationor runoff of surface
waters from any source."
They go on to say that "damages caused by a sewer backup are covered if the backup is a direct result of flooding. However, if the backup is caused by some other problem the damages are not covered."
Note, FEMA's definition and private insurer's are not necessarily the same.




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criminal behavior - distressed Aug 21, 2007


Our longtime board leadership has been involved in a litany of criminal & self-dealing behavior -- from failing to pay their maintenance and other fees, to rejiggering rules to their personal favor, to awarding themselves special benefits not available to other owners.

Yes, we did organize & oust them -- but after rapid turnover in the building, they're back. Many people, evidently fearing retaliation, refuse to run. (We're only about 100 units, so possiblities are limited)

To others who have dealt with crooked boards: what have you found most effective? D.A.? A.G.? CNYC? Private lawyer? Flee? Or...kick them out of the house/get them put in jail?

Am convinced that we need something like a "Shareholders' Bill of Rights," to make prosecution more feasible. Exisiting law is often just too expensive for individuals to pursue -- and coop lawyers are reluctant to get involved unless there's good $$$ in it for them.

What's our best hope here, from any of you who have dealt with such situations? Any pending legislation at the state/city level we could fight for for?

--Distressed

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I'm no expert -- nor a lawyer -- but I think that the state attorney general's office should be notified. The reason: co-ops are corporations, governed by New York State Corporate Law. Albany grants a corporation its right to exist, and Albany can prosecute violations of the law.

Anyone else? Anyone with experience in this?

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The DA & AG won't do anything - that is the main problem - there were bills in NY Senate & Assembly for bill of rights for coops & condos - recently became only condo bill -however there are very fine laws on the books already the problem is that the Attorney General will not enforce them - lawyers for this type of action is $100,000 ti start - that is the other problem - my view is that if we could get publicity that would help immensely -

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A pressure group perhaps ... of buildings with problematic boards. But we already have the good CNYC.

I had another idea, in trying to encourage the rating agencies to begin rating coops. Residents who lived in buildings managed by thuggish mafias might be enouraged to boot them once this situation seemed to quanifiably damage their apartment values.

D.

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The AG will and has assisted many coops. If you decide to go that route, you must walk in with proof.
I guess the real question is, what is it you want? What is the goal?
Money? Retribution? Revenge? etc...
If you decide that financial restitution, then you may want to take your case civil, sue individually since the D&O will not cover intentful criminal acts.
All I all, your answer lies in asking yourself a more detailed question.

~AR

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Right -- short but instructive jail terms, restitution to the coop, and, taking a page out of the securities industry, a way to bar them from holding office again.

I watched with interest that case of the guy who was kicked out of his coop, which stood up on appeal. Ditto the one in which the treasurer stole a million dollars, but the coop decided to keep it quiet. We know why -- if problems become public, buyers flee.

It's pretty hard.


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It is best not to be high profile, you will distract buyers. But, at the same time you want to nail him/her. I would personally go the civil route, even as a class action if the building agrees, and sue them personally for damages.

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Hmmm, class action. Does anyone know of an existing or developing case?

From all I've heard of the coop world, you'd think there'd be a mammoth one around somewhere.

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Many years ago I had proof as well as now and it was sent to the AG - a staff member there called me and we had long discussions after each of my letters with documentation - yes they are stealing you bling - no the AG will not do coops - undermanned, underfunded - and the situation has gotten worse - they did Enron and Worldcom because they are "billions and we are only millions" same situation will not do - who do you know at AG that would consider our case and others

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We've never been in this position.

But, no doubt your coop has board and officers insurance.
In as much as the carrier would need to cover any defalcation and attendant lawsuits, (depending on the lawsuit) they might be brought into the picture.

Again it is just a suggestion and not a recommendation.

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Often ... but most D&O insurance, including ours, won't cover legal bills if the board is determined to have broken the law, or violated principles of sound business judgment -- e.g., I suspect thugging, fraud, self-dealing and theft aren't covered...

-Distressed

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As they should not be!

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What about you and new shareholders running for the board. I am not too convinced by statements that people are fearful. Yes, there are fearful people, but am convinced that people are not willing to assume their role and live to the contracted obligations of shareholders.

1. Participate in elections.
2. Serve on the board.
3. Abide by the rules.

Having 100 units vote for four to six bad pennies tell me that you should participate or move out. No sense in living in a place, not participate and critique.

AdC

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It's the stock answer, but I'm afraid I find it, and the law as it protects coop living, insufficient.

I am neither a new SH nor a non-participant -- I served for a number of years as an officer, attend meetings, serve on committees, accomplished several key initiatives, etc.

Yes, I fear most residents don't care enough, and the ones who do, flee.

New York ought to be able to do better than that.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)


I do not want to enter into a long discussion, which may be more philosophical than what you expect as an answer:

Your own words,

"am neither a new SH nor a non-participant -- I served for a number of years as an officer, attend meetings, serve on committees, accomplished several key initiatives, etc."

-- Your only recourse is to continue to serve and be vigilant on the ways of others. This may lead you to many internal fights. YOU ARE YOUR OWN POLICEMAN - SUBSIDIARY PRINCIPLE of democracies - empowerment at the lower level possible.

"Yes, I fear most residents don't care enough, and the ones who do, flee."

--Again, you cannot do much about the indifference of those who are only interested in hanging their hats (live for a while) until they feel like it's time to go due to, e.g., work commitments, family, place does not fit their lifestyles or you name it!


New York ought to be able to do better than that.

--NO. New York is fine, people are not. Why should you impose the BIG BROTHER mentality, when SUBSIDIARY principle is not embraced and indifference reigns.


Join my camp or Winnebago mentality. Otherwise, grow a thick skin and be another indifferent resident.

AdC

AdC

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Nah, AdC. Haven't general events of the last 10 years even hinted to you that a laissez faire approach can't solve every problem on earth?!

--Need new laws

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It means you get involved if you care. Without involvement of those who care there is no better conditions.

Certain types of violent crimes decrease in summer because people are on the streets. Just like there are others that tend to decrease in winter when it's too cold.

Laws do not make much for you unless there is enforcement. Courts exist to administer the LAW. HOwever, what I read from many who expect BIG BROTHER is the COURT route means MONEY ($$$$$). Well, what else do you want???

An arbitrator that may pound on those that you wish to involve accuse without investigation, which in the end also means MONEY???

Unfortunately, nothing is for free in life: YOU WORK for the good of your community or co-op or YOU PAY to take people to COURT for being involved and serving themselves without your presence.

Sorry, but WHAT ELSE???


AdC

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I want criminal prosecution for criminal acts. I want the DA, AG & police to be involved, even in $5,000 or $10,000 cases. I want criminal penalities to apply to people who give themselves priority in parking spaces, to managing agents who solicit and take bribes, to realtors-residents who abuse their board positions to snare business, to people who hire their pals for coop projects & pocket kickbacks.

Don't these situations sound familiar to you, AdC?

Distressed

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People have as short a memory as amebas. In other words, you may prosecute 70% of crooks living in co-ops, but unless honest people get involve to prevent the problems or watch for their investment, HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. So, in the past elevator companies have been prosecuted, management have been prosecuted, deals under the table have been prosecuted, but THEY CONTINUE TO HAPPEN in and out because GREED is a HUMAN TRAIT that cannot be erased. Then, there is LAZINESS, UNINVOLVEMENT and WHO CARES attitudes that allows CORRUPTION.

Years ago someone commented on the fate of the country in which he lived by saying, the GOOD PEOPLE are behind the iron safety bars placed in their windows while the BAD PEOPLE are walking the streets.

This is a good analogy. Unless every well-intended person is willing to serve on the board, corruption is bound to take place.

AdC



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True and astutely expressed, AdC.

But what else can we do to make coop living viable?

Back to a Shareholders' Bill of Rights, consider this potentially useful provision:

"All financial records of the corporation will be open for inspection by shareholders."

That would've knocked out quite a bit of chicanery in my building, and in many others I can think of, in a way that just the vague, aggregate annual fiancials could not. Moreover, the very fact open records would scare off the crooks.

Is there a downside? Possibly a few owners in trouble, or in arrears, wouldn't appreciate such info becoming public. But I can't think of another downside. Can you?

--Distressed





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It may sound vulgar, but to me sounds like "toilet paper." You'll be surprised the amounts of people who buy in co-ops and have no idea that they are partakers of the building soundness (financial, etc.)

Some of our shareholders think that our management is our landlord. So, what is the use of BILL OF RIGHTS when they have no idea what they own.

Sorry... BILL OF RIGHTS is another paper that looks that the NYTimes motto.

AdC

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Sorry, AdC, am not quite so cynical as that.

Good, enforceable laws often work well enough, here in the U.S. anyway.

What's clear to me is that coops were, legislatively and legally, set up in an enormous hurry, with too little thought to later governance. Too bad we didn't have any modern James Madisons around back then.

But if coops are going to survive, they are going to be forced to improve.

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I can see how a Bill of Rights might be useful, but I agree with AdC that it serves little purpose if Shs don't know what they own or how they fit into the coop picture.

I'm for a Bill of Responsibilities. People buy into a coop and say they understand what it is, but they don't have a clue. They do what they want and don't even consider that board approval may be needed first. They're all for rules and standards, but they're the last ones to uphold them. They think the coop should fix (and pay for) everything in their apt, from spackling a "mistake" hole when they hung a picture to stopping their floors from creaking. They want access to all coop financial documents, but they don't know what "accounts payable" means when the annual statement is reviewed at the annual meeting. They expect the super to do whatever they want him to do, but they don't want him to tell them they can't smoke in the stairwell or keep their bikes in the hall outside their apt. Naturally, this isn't true of all Shs...but enough. If it becomes a matter of too many, it could be the downfall of coops (in my opinion).

Boards, staff and mgmt need "education." So do Shs. Coops should have a manual with sections on all topics that tell Shs everything they should know about their coop, including what a coop is, bldg procedures, corporation policies, fees and charges, who's responsible for what, House Rules, etc. and master copies of forms like alteration agreements and sublet applications. We've had one for years and make sure every new Sh gets it. It answers many questions, saves mgmt and board members time having to explain something to Shs, and eliminated Sh excuses like "I didn't know I had to do that" or "No one ever told me that's a coop policy" or "I called the property agent but he wasn't in." Feeble excuses aren't accepted because all Shs have a manual and one of their RESPONSIBILITIES is to refer to it.

You'd expect a 30-yr-old who just "bought" his first apt not to know much about coops, but it's surprising how many 50-yr-olds don't either - and how many Shs who've lived in a coop for years still don't get it, don't want to or don't gripe about maintaining standards or enforcing rules unless it's expected of them.

Shs have rights, but with rights, benefits and advantages come responsibilities. At least, they should.

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It is easy to say that good people should get involved but there is one thing you left out they have to be elected and many have tried but the corrupt and incompetent get elected because they have the votes and people do not listen when you try to explain things to them especially when you question the accountant and he says no and who are you - well you can't have corruption without the accountant -

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Thank you for putting it as clearly as that!

New shareholders (and specially those who come from rentals and never have owned anything) would like to be treated as owners on one hand and have the full benefits of a rental unit. Individuals whose educations go beyond a bachelor degree all of the sudden lose the capacity to read and comprehend. The idea that they have responsibilities for their common ownership does not cross their brains.

Right now the co-op in which I live has over 65% new shareholders since 2003. The whole process of training has to be rekindled. This is a never-ending process. Board need to be atuned to this too.

AdC

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We created a small (5.5"x8.5") manual that we give to all new Shareholders (also distributed to Tenants and existing Shs). It's a summary of the PL, in plainer English, and covers everything from renovations to pets.

I recommend it highly.

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How could I get one. We would meed it too so badly...

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I created ours for the co-op. I'm in the communications business, so it was a snap... but really, anyone who's capable of clear writing can do it.

Just start with your PL, outline what areas need to be covered (sublets, pets, noise, repairs, renovations, etc.), and what your PL says about them.

Paraphrase these rules in plain English. You might want to run the finished version past your managing agent or attorney to be sure it's both clear and accurate.

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RLM's idea of a SHs' manual that puts the PL in simplified language is a good idea. I did one for our coop. Ours is a composite of manuals I saw in other bldgs. Along with PL info, ours contains all coop policies the board's enacted, other key info not in the PL, a copy of our house rules, and our alteration agreement and sublet applications so SHs can photocopy them as needed.

When we send a letter to SHs about a new or revised policy, new fee, etc. we state at the end of the letter (in caps + boldfaced) that it should be inserted in Section X of the manual. This way the manual is always current. Our mgmt office also keeps a "Master Manual" with all such letters attached to it so we can give SHs who need another manual if they misplace theirs, or new SHs, one that's completely up to date.

Our manual is a 3-ring binder with tabbed sections and a TofC so SHs can find things easily. Our sections are:
Introduction
Apt Facts (sq ftage, shares, rooms, etc. for all apt lines)
Apt Use & Maintenance
Apt Improvements & Renovations
Apt Sales
Building Staff
Charges, Fees & Fines
Common Building Areas
Complaints & Reporting Issues
House Rules
Moves & Deliveries
Recycling & Trash
Repairs
Subletting
General Information (a page with phone #s for mgmt, super, etc. and a couple blank pages where SHs can write notes, phone #s for other SHs or whatever they want)

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Never occurred to us to list the square footage/rooms for each line... seems as though that would be good information to include, though. (The rest of our info is there... and in only 12 booklet-size pages - quite handy.)

How did you figure the square footage? -- realtor's numbers or actual measurements? Our building's old enough, we don't have original architect's drawings; perhaps yours is younger and they're still on file?

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We figured sq footage based on actual measurements and we noted this on the page in our manual. Realtors' numbers vary too widely and we didn't want to have a realtor number misinterpreted by SHs as something written in stone just because it might be in our manual.

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I'm glad you did it accurately. There are such inflated numbers out there... both "rounded up" and "created". Better that your Shareholders be able to trust your information.

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I agree completely - got any ideas there are many many too many coops in the same condition as ours - some know it some do not but the frequency and amount of theft is massive - some people do not want to acknowledge it is in their building -I know some very rich people in Forest Hills and they know what is going on but will not say anything

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Dogs in Elevator - SaraSara Aug 21, 2007


Is it a law that Dogs must be muzzled in the ELE.. I am not normally afraid of dogs, but we do have two dogs that make me nervous.. Problem? They belong to board members...

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Well Sara does your coop have a policy regarding "pet rules"
Also just because a dog looks threatning does not make it vicious. Find out does the dog have a " history of violence" (thats a movie also ha). And finally it should/does not make a differece who owns the dog. Board president, etc.

Hope this helped FN

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I don't know of a law about muzzling dogs in elevators.

In our co-op, all dogs are required to be leashed and under the control of their handlers in all public spaces of the building, at all times. If a dog were so dangerous as to require muzzling, the board could choose to tell the owner to find a new home for it.

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It is up to your house rules to define the leash/muzzle rules in the buiolding. Some smaller buildings mandate that pets must use stairs.
write a letter to the board and inform them that you feel threatened in your building and you have the right to feel safe and secure in your own building, etc..

~AR

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Sorry AR, Sara mentioned that the dogs made her nervous. You mentioned that Sara was threatened?. Two different points here. It is possible that the dogs look vicious but may not be threatening.

FN

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Don't matter.
The point is not - if they are vicious…. If i feel threatened, I am.
I understand that a certain level of her perception is reality, but nevertheless, no one should have to feel nervous just because some one else may feel they have a right to have their dog in the open.

Further - a history of biting does not tell what a dog will do today. Many people get bit by dogs that never bit anyone before.

A coop/condo should consist of everyone understanding and working together towards a single healthy comfortable environment without compromising the interests of the building as a whole.

~AR

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Sara: An idea if you have more than 1 elevator. I used to live in a condo that had many dogs. Many people didn't want to get in elevators with them if they looked or were known to be unfriendly. We had 4 elevators and 2 were designated for dogs. Their owners could only use those unless 1 of the others came and no one else got in. It worked very well.

If you have 1 elevator and someone is nervous about getting in with a dog, maybe that person (or the dog owner) should offer/agree to wait and take the elevator on the next trip.

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that is what usually happens though some people hesitate to openly discuss it.

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naughty billing on a mntnce bill - sb Aug 20, 2007


in a cop, the managing agent, at behest of the board pres, consults the coops attorneys on a matter relating to an employee . the matter was caused by an incident with a shareholder but it was not a direct incident in that the shareholder actually did nothingdirectly to incur the legal fees - the board/managing agent just needed some info. and advice . 7 months goes by and the board decides to put the legal fees on the shareholders bill (they were billed to the coop and paind many months ago -) with no notice - just, zingo, added onto a mntnce bill. seems illegal to me no? to say nothing of inappropriate. advice? r esponses?

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Can you explain/elaborate a little bit so we can help.

FN

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I cant go too much into detial for various reasons but I can tell you that it involved a building employee as a primary suspect in a theft. the determination was made byt the police and the coops lawyers got involved althoght he union lawyers are supposed to be working for members. in fact, ti may just have been an inappropriate usage fo funds byt the board pres - anyhow - some 8 months later they are attempting to bill the shareholder even thought he client was techincally the coop and the cost was incurred by the board and managing agent as they needed consultation.

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> "the matter was caused by an incident with a shareholder but it was not a direct incident in that the shareholder actually did nothingdirectly to incur the legal fees ... "

I'm no lawyer, ba, but that seems to be the crux of the issue.

It's entirely possible that "an incident with a shareholder" would result in the shareholder paying legal fees, but it seems impossible to tell from this. It's worth remembering that one can incur liability (such as for a bill) even if one is not directly involved.

In our co-op, if a shareholder makes a request (or a demand) that requires the co-op to use legal services, the shareholder is charged for those services. The alternative -- that everyone in the co-op should share in paying the bill -- just isn't fair to the rest.

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thanks - there was no direct request. it was entirely an option of the board to seek counsel and they did not even have to incur the fee. now they are trying to pass it on - the costs - and it seems inappropriate. again, the shareholder did nothing directly.

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The board certainly has the option of seeking counsel, even if the issue in question appears clear-cut.

This shareholder may certainly ask the board for an explanation of their reasoning behind passing on the bill. Be sure the person does so in a polite, non-confrontational way, to ensure a response.

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the board has informed the shareholder the charge was an error. phew.

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Yay!

Nice to know that your board can admit a mistake.

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rain and sewer back up - board newbie Aug 18, 2007


Due to the heavy rains 2 weeks ago, a sewer line backed up into our basement and flooded it. The smell is pretty bad and we had our super do a clean up. But the carpet leading down to the terra cotta tile floor got soaked and we are debating what to do. Management suggested calling in a clean up/sanitzing service and replacing the bad carpet. The estimates are $1500-$3500--a huge amount for our small brownstone. Anyone have a protocol to suggest following up a flood like this? we want to take proper precautions to make sure contamination and mold are eradicated. Any referrals for cleaning services? Thanks all.

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Before the next heavy rain and things deteriorates further you need to take action

Alexander Wall Corp.for property damage and disaster recovery specialists in the industry.

Gary J. Alexander, President
877-868-4373 • galexander@alexanderwall.com • www.alexanderwall.com

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I don't have anyone to refer you to, but I agree that you must remove this soiled carpet immediately. Clean the area underneath with some sort of high-end professional solvent. Or at least a bleach solution!

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I use Spic and Span Carpet Man @ 866-299-0872
they are very good and inexpensive
for flood damage, cleaning, etc...

~AR

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In a situation like your this is how I would handle it.

1. Make sure the drain line is clear. Have a professional company come in and take care of it. Do you need a cover to catch leaves, debris etc? Check the drain line on a continual basis.

2. Check to see if you have insurance coverage. Document and take photographs if necessary.

3. Have a professional company come in and address the carpet situation straigh away. More than likely thd padding underneath the carpet is retaining the water/moisture and causing an odor at this stage. Hope I helped

FN.

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Did you check to see if you have insurance coverage for this loss?

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The best method to keep this from happening is to clean your sewer exit every 6 monts. You'll be surprised, if you have washers in your building, the soap balls that are retrieved from your building sewer exit line. In fact, this is why it is recommended to use liquid soaps and abandon the powder.

Our co-op had such a backup into the boiler and since then, the board learned its lesson. The cost of such a service is $360 - $400 in Westchester and we pay it with a BIG SMILE, knowing it will not happen as a result of NEGLIGENCE.

Finally, there are many good ODOR COUNTERACTANTS and even liquids use to disinfect floors able to kill such contamants from feces, etc. Keep a supply for emergency and, in your case, I will get rid of the carpet and buy a new one. So, its $3,000 to $3,500, pay it and get rid of the contaminants and odors at the same time.

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help - nipple at bottom of sink internal?? - big al Aug 16, 2007


totally rusted up nipple pipe at bottom of old sink - this piece of pipe goes intot he wall. I assume it is therefore coop respon to x=fix and whatever is outside that is mine. right. again - the nipple is aobut 60 years old and the treads have rusted through and water is pouring out where the nipple meets the u-bend. thanks.

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As a rule of thumb anything that is outside the wall is the shareholder responsibility, anything inside the wall is the Coop/buildings responsibility. There are some situations where a pipe may be corroded both outside and inside a wall. Your building may have a ruling on the responsibility issue in such circumstances. Our Coop absorbes the cost in a situations like the above as part of our prevetive maintenance program.

FN

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it protuds from sall so it seems it must be coop resonsibility. anything attached to it , would be the shareholders. no? seems standard.

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The nipple is usually begining within the wall to the T fitting, also within the wall. This nipple (probably a galvanised piece of pipe) is a common problem and is a building related repair (even though 2/3 of it may be extended out of the wall.)

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In our co-op the shareholder is responsible for this small piece of pipe. This is a threaded piece connecting the sink's waste elbow to the local internal line in the wall only common to your bathroom or two bathrooms if back-to-back.

Because you have exclusive access to this little piece of pipe (not to mention that it's your soap and hair buildup that entangles here) and to change the elbow a good plumber will do the pipe as well, PLEASE absorb the cost of the little pipe since the work should not add much more to the invoice of your replacement of waste elbow and small pipe. Nickel and diming happens to be ridiculous and the elbow and little galvanized pipe entails no more than $80 by the person who snakes a line.



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i have to say, well meaning as you might be, the emai you have posted makes no sense. the nipple is over 40 years old. it is rotted out with corroded threads. the internal part of it is unreachable - inside the wall. what on earth are you saying? i dont think you understand or have full knowledge. please try to be more accurate. thanks. and this is NOT nickel and diming this is expensive plumbing for which we pay thosands of dolares of monthly mntnce.

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The pipe (Nipple) I believe he is talking about is the water supply, not the waste line underneath the sink.

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the item (nipple) goes intot he walla nd must be screwed into a t pipe. if they want me to screw with it (so to speak) for sure it will drownt he downstairs neighbor. it must be coop respons. wish me luck. they are cheap and they discriminate.

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I don't think there is need for sarcasm to anyone providing an opinion; thats why the site is here...

The repair should be a building related repair as I previously stated; even if it is partly out of the wall.
Cheep is expensive in the end. If these are left to the shareholder it will go neglected and incur more damages and cost to the building than if the coop would just go in and make the repair as soon as it is evident.

some coop bylaws state that it is a shareholder responsibility, but still opt top make the repair because of the aforesaid reason.

~AR

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No. Water supplies are small pipes that end in two small valves. These valves protrude from the wall and connect to your faucet. The pipe they are talking about connects your waste under your bathroom sink into the internal plumbing.

For the person's information with fear to flood the apartment below, please note that if the line is not back to back, this is your private internal line starting from the bathtub, connecting to the sink and falling just one of two inches above the toilet into the stack.

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This is done quite often in our building and it entails very little work for a plumber who cleans the line. In fact, when the plumber is called to snake a severely backup line always find the rotted elbow and pipe that you refer to and it's changed as a routine item with no big sweat. The interior pipe with the aerating pipe is the co-op and we change it at co-op expense without batting our eyes.

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loss assessment coverage - sally Aug 15, 2007


want to add it to a coop policy. anyone got advice, tips, input ?

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You mean you want to add it to the corporation's policy, right? As opposed to adding it to the policy of a single apartment in the co-op?

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I dont think you can add it to coop's ins. however, every coop should have a GROUP RISK policy. muxh cheaper.

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Thanks for the tip -- I'll make sure our co-op is covered with a group risk policy.

Individual shareholders should add to their homeowners' policies a loss assessment coverage. In the case of Castle Village, the large assessments shareholders are paying to cover the costs of the collapsed wall are, generally, covered by loss assessment coverage -- if the shareholders had it (and had enough).

What's enough? Hard to say. After Castle Village, I increased my line of coverage to $10,000.

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