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Baseboard Heat Upgrade - board newbie Sep 06, 2007


Some of the units in our small co-op are severly underheated and a plumber came onsite to assess the situation. After completing a calculation based on volume of the unit and amount of BTU's we have vs what we need, he suggested upgrading our current residential baseboards with light commercial. This would alleviate adding additional feet of baseboard to walls where there is none, he contends. We are talking about 550 sq foot studios with normal height ceilings. Anyone know if this is a good remedy? He also said it would involve cutting some of the wood floors away from where the thicker new piping would go. Sounds like a nightmare. Would the co-op have to repair the floors since this is in the course of performing a co-op repair? Thanks all.

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something sounds wrong here.
only because when the designer was first approved by the DOB and whatever engineers first did this install/build, the heat requirements had to have been figured and met.

Did something happen between then and now?
was the boiler neglected?
is it something outside your plumbers expertise?
are you leaking heat from somewhere else?
these things can cost you allot more later if not answered correctly now. more/heavier heating elements are not always the answer.
You may have better spend money by hiring a heating engineer for 1500 dollars or so to review and advise. This will/should end up in a more efficient solution in the long term.

~AR

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Twenty years have passed since the building was gutted/renovated and lots has probably happened. Most likely suspect is windows deteriorating (heat escaping) but that would be $10,000 to replace due to size (there is a huge three-pane sliding glass door). Since only two units are still below legal heat requirements on cold days, the Board is loathe to make that investment though that is what even the plumber and building engineers have suggested to do first. The Board fears this will not solve the problem and we don't really lots of money so they are looking at quick fixes. Anyone know a good plumber?

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We use Wynne plumbing and Temperini Mechanical
you can call Joe temperini 347-582-5934 the owner

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Burned Out??? - Jim Storch Sep 05, 2007


I am the board president of a mid size Manhattan building with approximately 90 units and I think I am burned out.

I have been frustrated at every turn with the inability to get anything done and I am putting in a significant amount of time and energy into this endeavor.

Our management company has been replaced but appears no better than the last one. Is this a major problem in the industry?

Our shareholders are apathetic and only want their specific issues resolved. They don't care to see the entire picture. Is this common as well?

Our board is serious about attempting to tackle issues but perhaps we are going about it the wrong way.

Any advice here. I really want to pack it in and give up, but I can't as their appears to be noone interested in picking up the baton if I wanted to pass it on. And I am not going to be selling anytime soon.

ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

Any similar stories and/or advice how to cope.


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Sounds like you and your Board need to take a little retreat together and brainstorm.

I suggest a weekend outing to one of New York's local parks, with a picnic lunch, some kind of sports equipment (even two mitts and a softball), and a beverage or two.

Relax, enjoy the day and your fellow Board Members, and have a frank and freewheeling talk over lunch about what's wrong, and what you all, as a team, can do about it.

As President, it's your most critical role to keep the discussion as open as possible and to curtail fingerpointing and any personal comments.

Get creative! Think outside the building. : )

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We are a union building, our super has an apt and other
benefits which the union requires. We have over 200 apt.
However the super does not stay in his apt. he travels to
his house which is about 20 minutes away. He is not
available at nite for emergencies.

Are there any union people who could advise his he in
violation of the union rules. thank you

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Lynn, why not try/post your question seperately. The subject/question posted on the top of the page relates to board member burnout.

FN

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Sorry I am not all that computer know how and I thought
i entered it correct.

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No worries, just helping out. I will jump up to your post later.

FN

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Jim: Many board members feel as you do, and everything you said is very common in many bldgs.

Don't pack it in and give up. You "care" and it doesn't sound like a lot of your SHs do, so you're a rare, valuable entity. When a bldg loses good board members, it runs the risk of getting some who are't capable of running a bldg or a corporation, or who want be on the board only for self-serving reasons. Both bad news.

You said "our board is serious about attempting to tackle issues..." That means you aren't the only board member who wants to do this. Good. You're not alone on the board in this desire. Get together and start taking action.

First, your board should write a list of things your mgmt firm isn't doing satisfactorily or is ignoring. Then your board should meet with a mgmt firm director/principal and your property manager to discuss improvements. Don't just complain. Try to make it a cooperative effort. If things don't start improving in, say, 3 months, start looking for another mgmt firm. Sometimes you have to go through a few to find a good one but they're out there. You pay them to work for you. If they aren't earning their pay, you're doing all your SHs a disservice - and wasting their money.

Also, how's your super/staff? Do they do their jobs well? If mgmt can help with this, fine. If not, you/your board should meet with them (again, in a cooperative way) and try to work out knots in that area.

Then, review bldg/corporate issues. If mgmt can help here too, great, but don't wait on them. How's your operating account? Do you have much debt? How are your reserves? If you don't have numbers, ask mgmt for them and don't take no for an answer. They work for you, you don't work for them. Any bldg issues that need prompt attention (pest control, repairs)? Depending on your finances, see what needs to be done and what you can start doing that you can afford.

SHs are apathetic, esp if they don't see positive changes or anything getting better. They only know what they see. You can install a new boiler with lots of fancy sensors but all SHs care about is having heat in the winter. Can you do any bldg things that will be readily "noticeable"? Even small ones - new recycling bins, a fresh coat of paint in the lobby. Put a lockable Suggestion Box in the mailroom (with paper/pen). Send everyone a memo - tell them where it is, invite them to submit ideas, and say all signed slips will receive a reply. Have a designated board member check the box once a month and DO reply to signed submissions.

Apathy can be difficult to overcome but it can be done to a good degree. Let Shs know you and your board care about the bldg and them. Keep lines of communication with them open. If they start seeing changes, attitudes will change.

My last two suggestions:

- Don't spend every free waking moment on the bldg or being board pres. Take time away from it. Except for emergencies or critical issues that need immediate attention, what's there on Friday will still be there on Monday.

- Designate. Don't do everything yourself. Assign tasks to other board members or ask them to volunteer to take on something, like drafting a letter to SHs or calling mgmt firms to explain your bldg's needs and get preliminary info if they're interested that the board can review and decide if it wants to meet with any of them.

Hope some of my suggestions are helpful.

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Thanks BP

Your comments do offer intelligent perspective, insight, and inspiration.


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JIm

You and I share similar concerns about our buildings. Looks like those problems you described are not unique to your building alone I have no advice to give as I am in the same boat you are in.

AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!

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Thanks V.

I assumed I was not alone.

Although this is no comfort, I have come to expect these frustrations.

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The SH and the Doorman - BP Sep 04, 2007


We've had a doorman (3pm-midnight, M-F) for many years. A SH (since '03) says she thought a doorman was just to help 2 elderly SHs and since they're both now gone, we no longer need one. We said it would be a "reduction in services" and we can't take away a service we've always provided. Also, our super has an afternoon job and goes to night school, so he isn't here 2pm to 10pm. With no doorman we'd have no one on site for security, or for help if needed.

This SH is telling everyone we're wasting a lot of money on a doorman. That issue isn't the problem. The doorman we have is very helpful/conscientious, and everyone likes him. The problem is this SH. Many others are complaining loudly that she's calling, e-mailing, ringing bells and bothering them. They all told her to stop but she hasn't and they want the coop to do something about it.

The board spoke to her and sent her a letter saying we have complaints that she's creating a disturbance and asking her to stop. Since she came here in '03, she's been nice and seemingly "rational," but suddenly she's ballistic about the doorman. We thought maybe something happened between them, but she hasn't said anything about him personally. He's 54-55, very courteous, and we don't he got fresh or anything like that. She's been bothering everyone almost daily since early July. She called me 3x today. I finally said the issue was no longer up for discussion and I was hanging up, which I did.

Our SHs feel as we do about her and the doorman is not an issue with them. I think we should all just ignore her and hopefully she'll tire and stop this. We don't want to get our coop attorney involved but if she doesn't stop, he may have to send her a letter.

Anyone have any other suggestions on how to deal with her?

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First, in your posting you should not go above and beyond the fact that the Shareholder feels that you are wasting money. The problem between sharholder and doorman is purely speculative. As St. Theresa used to say, "Leave the CRAZY ONE" alone and you will not run into phantoms.

Now, back to your problem:

Your By-laws state that the Board has the last word in decision-making. So, why take the tear and wear from a shareholder?

Solution: Your management writes a formal letter to the shareholder with copy to your co-op counsel (for info)stating the facts:

Thank you for your concern on saving money, but Board has reviewed the building's staff's requirements and has CONCLUDED that total door coverage is required if security is to be preserved. PERIOD.

State to the person that shareholders have complained about being individually solicited by a shareholder on a matter that should be addressed as a suggestion to management and copy to the board. HOwever, if the person wishes to continue pressing the item, it should then may be brought in PUBLIC at an open shareholders meeting. HOwever, in the meantime, the sharheolder should cease her activity until the appropriate venue takes place.

Follow the staff assessment public and even remind shareholders what is expected of them if they wish to elevate suggestions of operational nature.

AdC

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I agree with AdC

~AR

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Average amount of vacation time for staff - rfs Sep 03, 2007


Would be interested in the average amount of vAcation days provided for non-union supers and doormen. What seems reasonable to you?

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I think 1 week after the 1st year, until year 5.Then 2 weeks until the fifteen year.Then 3 to 4 weeks after that

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First 6 months the employee gets 3 working days, 1 year, 2 weeks, 5 years to 15 years 3, weeks 15 years to 20, 4 weeks.

Holiday's, I know of buildings that try to get by with only a couple of staff working that day to save money.

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I clicked too fast on the last message.
Anyway, thanks George. What about the average situation re: holidays off for non-union staff?

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George I think what you listed is way to low. I would be interested to know what your vacation package is like.
Its simple, you want good staff? Threat them well. Otherwise they will look for better deals.
Pg

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I guess you don't what a job is for to work.A lot of people in country don't get vacations.They should be happy to get that time.

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I dont know about the rest of the country. This issue is in New York, therefore, stick to NY practices.

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George,

I have to agree with Peter and Nicky, what country are we talking about? We are here in AMERICA and lets deal with the facts here! By the way how much vacation time do you receive from your employer?

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vacation is not a right in this country.Check with the federal rules

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George, most of us were responding to rfs post (for all I know you could be George as well). Anyway, the point here is frs asked a question, many people responded and gave their opinion. Your were of the opinion that employees should get very little or no vacation (your opinion which I do not agree with,but respect).Just a footnote, many of my employees have anywhere between four and five weeks vacation per year (due to the fact that they have over twenty years in the union). Yes, we do survive by hireing/training summer relief to fill in. This works very well.

FN

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I pretty much agree with George? on this one. For the first year one week, then after two or three years on the job two weeks vacation. From five years onwards three weeks etc.
See if you can get hold of a copy of the union contract book so you can compare. I am not sure what arrangement was discussed with your super. I know many supers that instead of taking overtime for additional work, they use that additional time towards vacation.

Hope it was of some help,

FN

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Sorry George, I agree with P.Grech on vacation time. One week of vacation for the first five years is nothing. I would be interested to know how much vacation time you get each year. As to your response about other countries and vacation, that is a non issue. I believe the building in question is in NY. Like P. Grech said a happy workforce is a productive one.

FN (I am on vacation next week)

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I guess you don't like working.Who cares if that are happy.2 WEEKS .Any more the buildings fall apart .Like yours

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You agree with me on the other post.Which side of fence are you on.

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pipe leaks - GM Sep 02, 2007


Our co-op is about 35 years old. They are 2 story brickfaced garden apts. On average for the last few years we have had to repair at least a dozen pinhole pipe leaks a year from copper pipes that run through the ceiling between the up and downstairs apts. Any information about why these leaks would occur and/or how to prevent them would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
GM

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Have you had any tests done on the piping? Perhaps it's substandard material.


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Thanks you RLM for responding. We recently had tests done and are currently digesting the lengthy report.
GM

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There are numerous conditions than can give rise to pinhole leaks.

Galvanic action can occur wherein copper and a dissimilar metal create an electrical current that slowly erodes the copper. Hanging straps of galvanized metal can lead to such galvanic action.

Expansion and contraction of the building (winter vs. summer) can flex the copper to the point where the material begins to deteriorate and then fail. In our 22 story, forty-five year old high-rise, we have expansion joints that are designed to flex (expand and contract) as the building changes in size. Over the last five years we have had failures of these joints and we are nearly finished with out 96 pair replacement program. In as much as the same piping system is employed for cold water in the summer and hot water in the winter, we have but one week at change of season time to drain the system and effect replacements.

There are other causes, e.g.: nails protruding through the walls/floors on which the copper “rubs” and then fails, not to mention galvanic action if the nail steel.

More importantly, what has your licensed plumber reported to you as to the cause of the leaks”?

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Thank you Ted-NJ for your response. Our plumber has not been too helpful. I will share your information with our Board and with our plumber.
GM

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meeting with the managing agent - GK Sep 01, 2007


Many of you have written wise things and have also given me good advice in the past; I'd like to get your feedback on this.

Miraculously, it looks as though our current VP is serious about getting rid of our managing agent/management company. (I've posted in the past about proxy tampering and other issues.) This is a great, great sign. It also gives me hope that the VP may be starting to think independently of the BP (who wants to retain the MA/management company).

The current managing agent was hired by the BP, who was the only one to interview her and presented it to the rest of the board as a fait accompli: "Here is our new managing agent." The way it always worked was this: the BP would meet with the MA on a monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) basis. Alone. During my stint on the board, I found this odd and asked if I could attend. Initially the BP told me I could, but that first meeting came and went and I wasn't notified that it was happening. So I asked that I be included in the next one (and the next one, and the next one...). The BP hemmed and hawed and said: "Well, the thing is, often we change the time at the last minute, so it's difficult to set up with an additional person..." To which I would respond: "Well, let me know anyway. Give me a heads-up. If I can make it, I will." And he would just never let me know that these meetings were happening.

Subsequently friends in other buildings raised their eyebrows at this and told me that it is not standard procedure for the MA to meet solely, alone, with the BP. In their buildings, the MA meets with the entire board (or a majority).

How does it work in your buildings?

Now that we're shopping for a new management company and MA, I'd kind of like it if we could start out on the right foot. I'd like the entire board to have a working relationship with the MA. It just seems healthier to me.

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GK: I remember your posts about problems with your BP, your VP's hesitancy to oppose him, etc. Glad to hear your VP is, hopefully, taking a stronger stance.

All BMs should have a working relationship with the MA, in my opinion. I think your BP and other BMs are forgetting an important point: A board is a "team." No BM should act or make decisions independently of the others. A BM can take on a task (e.g., researching a subject or writing a draft of a letter to Shs for "Board of Directors" signature). But he'd report back to the full board on such things.

That said, BMs have to interact with the MA to some degree. If, as happened to you, the BP is controlling and the only one working with the MA, the others are not in the loop and probably getting no info or skewed info from the BP on what is going on, how money is spent, etc. In my coop, we try to have all BMs attend meetings with the MA. If one can't make it, we make sure meeting minutes are typed asap and given to him with any paperwork (proposals, resident lists, etc.) the MA distributed at the meeting.

We have a lot of interplay by e-mail too. BMs copy the full board and the MA on their posts, and the MA copies all of them on his. It seems your BP and MA are a tight twosome, but handling e-mail this way ensures that no BM is left out of anything. You said you're shopping for a new mgmt firm and want to start off on the right foot with them. A first step in that direction should be having ALL BMs interview mgmt firms, deciding which firm you go with, and meeting the person who will be your MA.

In my coop, all BMs call the MA if they want, and meetings and e-mail keep everyone involved. There are times when the BP is the contact person with the MA, to keep things less complicated and/or time-consuming. THe BP and MA can often settle minor issues or clear up details that the full board doesn't have to get involved in. But on important matters the BP informs the others what the MA told him or what was discussed. Of course, it helps if you have a BP who isn't a control freak and who can be counted on to do this.

If your VP is waking up to the need to not let the BP keep playing "Power Man," maybe your board's next major task in the months ahead, along with hiring a new mgmt firm, should be getting the BP voted out of. If you want to fresh, clean start and get off on the right foot, it sounds like it's time to give your BP the boot!

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BP, thank you so much for your input. It has been difficult for me to respond. Everything you say is so rational, so sane, so seemingly straightforward...and yet, in light of our current BP, it will be difficult if not impossible to implement much of what you suggest.

"If, as happened to you, the BP is controlling and the only one working with the MA, the others are not in the loop and probably getting no info or skewed info from the BP on what is going on, how money is spent, etc."

Yep.

"A first step in that direction should be having ALL BMs interview mgmt firms, deciding which firm you go with, and meeting the person who will be your MA."

As I said, I'm not presently on the board (I can't be as long as the current BP is part of the equation) but the VP and I have been having discussions about this and I am really pushing for just what you suggest above. I'm really trying to emphasize the importance of having all BMs meet and interview potential MAs, rather than just the BP, who usually tries to maneuver situations so that he is the only one meeting with any given person: MA, super, potential buyer, accountant, counsel... As stated before, he's a textbook bully, so one-on-one situations work best for him.

"Of course, it helps if you have a BP who isn't a control freak and who can be counted on to do this."

He is a control freak, and can be counted on to relay only information (accurate or not, complete or not, true or completely fabricated) that furthers his own agenda.

"If your VP is waking up to the need to not let the BP keep playing 'Power Man,' maybe your board's next major task in the months ahead, along with hiring a new mgmt firm, should be getting the BP voted out of."

This was the part that I found it especially difficult, almost painful, to respond to. The VP has always been aware of the problems with the BP. From day one. But he caves because: the BP's wife is a lovely person (she really is!) who is good friends with the VP's wife; the BP brings the VP nice little presents from his vacations all over the globe (how he can afford such frequent, far-flung travel is another question for another day); the VP views the BP as unstable and fears even more erratic behavior or reprisals if action is taken to remove him.

As I think I mentioned previously, we did attempt to remove him as president at one point. We suggested that he take on the role of treasurer, which involves less interaction with the public and to which he seems better suited. The motion was presented, I seconded the motion, and if the VP had "thirded" the motion the BP would have had to step aside. But the VP, who was willing to assume the role of president, stopped short of concurring with the motion, for the reasons stated above. Even so, this essentially amounted to a vote of no confidence. If it were me, I would have taken that to heart and stepped aside. Not this guy. If anything our no-confidence vote only strengthened his belief that he is somehow entitled to the role of president, and he dug in his heels.

With the current cohort he is once again president. Not quite sure how that happened but I imagine it has something to do with the fact that two BMs are brand new and the VP is rightfully consumed with his professional life, where he excels. Part of the problem, I think, is that the BP has more time than anyone else to devote to the board.

As for voting him off the board altogether, I don't see how that can ever happen, since he is voting for the sponsor and also seems to have most of the proxies in his pocket. So.

Sorry to be prolix and sorry to sound defeatist, but this is not a good situation. However, one can hope that by the *full* board developing a working relationship with a new MA, and by the *full* board deciding which management company to go with, life in our building will be infused with just a wee bit more sanity (and genuine representation) than at present.

Thanks again for your input.

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GK: I understand what you're saying. You have a difficult situation with your BP. I'd like to say a few more things and I hope you don't mind.

1) I recall your saying that the wives of the BP and VP are friends. Fine. Let them. They're not supposed to be engaged in, or privy to, board biz anyway. You have to tell the VP he has to decide: a) if he wants to be the BP's friend and accept presents the BP gives him from his travels (he must realize they're payoffs) or b) if he'll be a BM whose first responsibility is --TO THE COOP AND ALL ITS SHs.

2) A bully (in school, at work, on a board) is only a bully if people LET THEMSELVES BE BULLIED. A BP has some specific duties: signing coop tax forms, chairing meetings (maybe), etc. But he has NO MORE PRIVILEGES OR RIGHTS THAN ANY OTHER BM. The board is a team of equals who work together.

3) Board positions aren't decided by SHs. The board votes on who will assume what position. Try this. Convince the VP to tell the new BMs how important it is to unseat the BP. They must have a clue by now that he acts totally out of order. Then at the next board meeting, the VP (or new BM if he'll do it) should ask the BP if he may have the floor to speak. It's "Parliamentary procedure" - if someone has the floor, it can't arbitrarily be taken away by anyone. It's given up if a person who has the floor agrees to give it up or if that person concludes his motions/business.

The VP (or new BM) should motion to vote on reassigning the BP as treasurer. (You only need someone to "second" it, you don't need a "third". There's something called "majority carries." If the majority of your BMs vote to reappoint the BP as treasurer - he's the treasurer. If he doesn't want to be, tell him he always has the option of resigning from the board. IMPORTANT - check this "procedure" with your coop attorney. If you can't trust him any more than the BP, ask another attorney, or ask a BP or BM you know in another bldg to ask their attorney for you.

4) I see why you don't want to be on the board with this BP. But you seem to be one of the few people who sees the big picture and has the guts to want to turn things around for the better. Shall I try to instill a pang of guilt in you and say: Your coop, SHs and board need you."

You have a tough situation, and if the BP has many proxies (incl the sponsor's) in his pocket, it isn't easy to get him voted off the board. That's another animal entirely. But think about it. Why does he have so many proxies? Is he friends with all those SHs? Do they give him their proxies bec he bullies them? Do they honestly think he's doing a good job, and "if it aint' broke don't fix it"?

I don't know how big/small your bldg is. But if you start looking for more SHs to run for the board, get them revved up, urge them to be more "visible" and gradually show all SHs how stagnant things are, and how new qualified people with fresh ideas and perspectives are needed on the board, you could change things by the time the next annual meeting rolls around. Keep communication going. As you get closer to annual meeting time, tell SHs you can make a difference and you hope they'll support you in the election in person or by proxy. You don't have to throw this in the BP's face. You (and by you, I mean you and others you can convince to run for the board) can campaign quietly just by keeping in touch and talking to SHs. You can do it in a responsible, professional way, which is probably not what your BP does.

GK, I still say someone can't be controlling if you take the source of his power away, and he can't be bullying if you refuse to let yourself be bullied.

Finally, GK, I don't think your board's problem is totally the BP. I think it's also the VP. Is he going to do what's right...or what's easy? Is he going to agree with you then keep backing down bec he's afraid of the BP? If he's so wishy-washy and easily manipulated by the BP, why doesn't he get off the board? What good has he done for your bldg lately as a BM? It seems to me he's virtually useless if he won't take a stand and STICK to it.

As my dad used to say: "Pee or get off the pot."

I didn't put in my two cents. I put in about a dollar and a half. :-) No offense intended. Just trying to help.

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Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, BP. No offense taken whatsoever. Just a bit difficult to respond to such matter-of-fact rationality, because our BP, although capable of bursts of lucidity, is highly irrational and seems to sow dysfunction wherever he goes.

"They're not supposed to be engaged in, or privy to, board biz anyway."

Yeah, but they are. The VP's wife in particular has a lot of board input.

"You have to tell the VP he has to decide: a) if he wants to be the BP's friend and accept presents the BP gives him from his travels (he must realize they're payoffs) or b) if he'll be a BM whose first responsibility is --TO THE COOP AND ALL ITS SHs."

I have told him this in no uncertain terms on more than one occasion. He just sort of shrugs it off; I'm not sure if I'm getting through to him. As for the gifts, these aren't big-ticket items. It's not like the BP is bringing the VP diamonds from South Africa. No, we're talking: a CD from West Africa here, a loaf of bread from an exotic island there...etc. Just little souvenirs that say "thinking of you."

"A bully (in school, at work, on a board) is only a bully if people LET THEMSELVES BE BULLIED."

I've heard this argument before; frankly I think it's an overly simplified reading of a very complicated dynamic. I really believe that most people are profoundly capable of empathy. I would go so far as to say that empathy defines our humanity. Bullies are the exception and, I think, manifest antisocial characteristics and an inability to empathize which makes it possible for them to manipulate others and to be cruel. And I do mean cruel. The objects of this will almost always try (and will spend a lot of time and energy trying) to UNDERSTAND the situation but, to paraphrase Primo Levi, Hier ist kein Warum--there is no WHY here. No reason, no rationality.

"The VP (or new BM) should motion to vote on reassigning the BP as treasurer. (You only need someone to 'second' it, you don't need a 'third'. There's something called 'majority carries.' If the majority of your BMs vote to reappoint the BP as treasurer - he's the treasurer."

What happened when we tried to reassign him was this. We were a board of four. One BM motioned to reassign the BP as treasurer. I seconded the motion. The VP, while recognizing the problem and offering to assume the role of presidency, abstained from voting. The BP, obviously, voted against the motion and said that, if necessary, he would get the sponsor on the phone and the sponsor would also vote against it. So even though this was clearly a no-confidence vote, we assumed we were stuck, and the status quo was maintained. (The BP interpreted this as a personal victory, and emerged from the meeting feeling more entitled than ever to the position of president.)

"Shall I try to instill a pang of guilt in you and say: Your coop, SHs and board need you."

I agree with you. But when my quality of life is so diminished by trying to deal with the nightmare that is our BP, I have to take a step back and protect myself. If I felt that others firmly had my back, that would be a different story. But the others in the building who had his number and were opposed to him have all left within the past year or so. I can't do this by myself. There are a couple of others still in the building who appear to have doubts about this man, but really getting through to them and persuading them that action is necessary to unseat him is a delicate balancing act. One hesitates to be a "troublemaker," because that isn't effective. I do have some emails that I could show them that would make my case quite persuasively, however. It's just a question of finding the right moment.

"I don't know how big/small your bldg is."

50 units.

"You can do it in a responsible, professional way, which is probably not what your BP does."

Nope. He buttonholes people and gets right up in their face (think of the famous photos of Lyndon Johnson where he utterly disrespects his interlocutor's physical boundaries) and basically just lies.

"I don't think your board's problem is totally the BP. I think it's also the VP. Is he going to do what's right...or what's easy?"

The VP is good to have on the board. Without going into too much detail, he has professional expertise that is vital to the co-op. He's also very level-headed and diplomatic. And smart. I'm disappointed that he can't seem to take a firm stand against the BP, though. The BP has bragged to shareholders that he is "grooming" the VP to be his replacement, which, though a pathetic, self-serving and patronizing thing to say, does at least offer a glimmer of hope that he foresees a future in which he will no longer be the BP.

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Our Board meets on a monthly basis at the managing agent's offfice. All Board members or at least a majority attend including the managing agent. Minutes are taken. The managing agent mails the minutes with the maintenance bill.
In between Board meetings we use e-mail to address co-op concerns. Board members and Managing agent are linked together in e-mail address book. This system works well to respond and act uniformly on issues in a timely manner.
GM

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GM, this makes a lot of sense and this is certainly the way I and two other board members tried to do business. The BP, alas, dislikes email (he is made especially uncomfortable by group emails or emails that are copied to relevant parties). He favors one-on-one conversations that leave no trace.

During my stint on the board I made what I think was a persuasive case for why the board should use email in its communications. I'm not sure to what extent email is used currently; my guess would be that it is used less. The BP's modus operandi is to scream until he gets what he wants; the other BMs are fairly conciliatory and I imagine would let him have his way on the email issue, since he feels so strongly about it.

BP, thank you, too, for your answer, which I'll address separately.

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As a principal and managing agent, I can say the current agent should be replaced if they are permitting this practice. I have one particular BP who does occasionally ask to meet me (starbucks, the building, wherever) and we discuss bills, questions, etc. When we are done, I ALWAYS memorialize any conversations and requests, etc. in an email to him, cc'ing the entire board.

The agent must understand, that even though the BP requests time, he/she works for the entire coop/condo.
feel free to contact me if you have any questions, etc.

~AR

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Wow. This is very good to know. Thank you so much for your response. (I've also been meaning to answer BP's thoughtful response.)

I've only been a co-op owner for five years. I confess that for the first year or so I didn't pay much attention to building governance. Once I started getting interested, our current BP was ensconced in his position and would meet privately in his apartment with the MA on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. It wasn't until I was on the board that I thought about that and asked myself: "Wait. Is that normal?"

You write that from time to time you meet one-on-one with the BP to go over bills, etc. You then follow up with a record of conversation cc'ed to the entire board. (That's something right there. Our BP would chew you out for that. He views copying others on emails as a personal affront/shaming device. I and almost everyone else I know view emailing several people at once as simply efficient. It's stunning to me that the basic features of email should even arise as an issue. If the BP were older, I might be able to explain it as a generational thing, but in fact he's in his early forties so you would think that email would not be particularly controversial for him.)

Aside from these occasional one-on-one meetings with the BP you mentioned, do you also make it a regular practice to meet with the entire board?

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Any meetings with the BP are in addition to regular board meetings, never as a replacement. Again, anything said is reiterated at the meeting.
If the MA is not adhering to ethical practices (by his own volition or not), then he is being managed and not managing. out of order, thus, it needs fixing.

oh, and if the BP ever gets insulted that i copy the board, then that would indicate that he has something to hide and the meetings would have to stop immediately.

~AR

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"Any meetings with the BP are in addition to regular board meetings, never as a replacement."

Wow. Eye-opening. Thanks. It's funny how dysfunction can sometimes pass for normalcy, when people don't know better.

"oh, and if the BP ever gets insulted that i copy the board, then that would indicate that he has something to hide and the meetings would have to stop immediately."

Yup. This is what I've tried to indicate: the BP behaves very much like someone who has something to hide. If he's as irreproachable as he says he is, he wouldn't fly into a defensive rage every time an email gets copied, every time a question is raised, etc.

Thanks again.

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encouraging participation-your opinions? - curious Aug 31, 2007


Interested in feedback on this idea:

"To join our coop, you must run for election to the board one year out of every five, or else pay a $500 fee in lieu of your year of service."

First a house rule and, depending on the results, perhaps later a bylaw (with the sum left open).

Thoughts?

--Curious


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Per Curious -> "To join our coop, you must run for election to the board one year out of every five, or else pay a $500 fee in lieu of your year of service"

That doesn't encourage participation, that requires it. I assume by joining the coop you mean buying into it. You'll lose buyers if board service is a condition of purchase, and not everyone has the time/interest to serve on a board. You also run the risk of getting board members who aren't qualified/capable and may manage things badly and do your coop great harm. That's always possible but moreso here.

And why make Shs pay $500 in lieu of board service? Help us run the coop or if you won't do it, pay us money - one has nothing to do with the other.

Forcing Shs to serve on the board won't foster cooperation or enthusiasm for the task. Shs will resent the demand, and those who don't want to will serve halfheartedly and not do a good job. It's also very unlikely you'd ever get your Shs to vote in an amendment to the by-laws that requires board service or paying a fee. I can't see that happening.

You want to encourage more Shs to run for the board? Get to know your Shs. Keep lines of communication with them open. Search out those with particular skills (accounting, mgmt, marketing) and tell them what an asset they'd be for the coop if they were on the board. Let Shs know that you want their ideas and welcome their participation in making your coop a stable, secure, desirable place to live for all.

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Absolutely agree 100% with every single thing BP said. Wise words.

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Perhaps in a small complex, compelling participation is useful or necessary.

But, in our coop we would rather not have 85% of the residents at shareholders.

Most have no view as to how to run a corporation and yes, the coop is a corporation, and not a social club wherein board members run on a popularity ticket.

Sorry to be so acrimonious, but most folks would destroy the good order of a well-run corporation.

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Sounds like we're hearing just from the well-run corporations...how about the badly-run ones?

Think of jury duty, where such changes were made to get better-qualified jurors (it worked); cooperatives of all kinds (e.g. the Park Slope Food Coop) that require a modicum of labor in exchange for membership.

I'd be willing to reject new applicants I didn't think qualified to serve on our board.

Our board operates FAR beneath the level of any entity in my professional or social life. There must be a better way.

--Need more participation

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"Sounds like we're hearing just from the well-run corporations...how about the badly-run ones?"

I was the first to respond and I wouldn't exactly consider our co-op to be run well. Our co-op is run much like a monarchy.

"Think of jury duty, where such changes were made to get better-qualified jurors (it worked) . . . "

That's a very interesting point and now you've got me thinking. In fact I've always considered board service to be quite similar to jury service: it's a duty AND a privilege. (Most people don't view jury duty as a privilege. What can I say? I do.) I'm curious about how that might work in practical terms. With jury duty there is quite an elaborate selection process in place, culminating in voir-dire, with an effort to construct a diverse and neutral pool; in a scenario where people are being elected, I'm not sure how that would work, exactly. Interesting, though.

"I'd be willing to reject new applicants I didn't think qualified to serve on our board."

This would require some fairly complicated legislative changes, would it not? At least, if you wanted to do it legally?

"Our board operates FAR beneath the level of any entity in my professional or social life."

Yep, so does ours.

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Oops, it just occurred to me that in the system you propose, GM, people would not be elected since board service would be mandatory.

How would that work, practically speaking? One would need to come up with some sort of schedule. I think that your idea is probably a bit Utopian and would be difficult if not impossible to implement, but I'm very interested in hearing how you think it COULD work.

Implicit in your idea is the notion of term limits, which I'm extremely interested in pursuing. Another thing that might be considered is not requiring anyone who has lived in the co-op for one year or less to serve. That way people could get the lay of the land a bit before plunging into building governance. But, beyond that, how would the cohort be selected? and by whom?

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I used to know of some companies that had that "use our garbage removal service, or you can't do business.." motto.

I dont think they are around anymore... (in the way ther were anyway!)

~AR

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Important financial question - BP Aug 31, 2007


To all - here's the situation:

We need $250K for a bldg project (must do it within 1-2 yrs)

- We have 20% that amt in reserve (just did a big project)

- $250K would eat up our entire LOC (not a good idea)

- We could take out an add'l mortgage (not desirable)

- A 2-yr assessment would be a very steep hit on Shs

- We'd need a 30% mnt increase to raise $250K in 2 yrs
(could lower it by, say, 25% after we raised the $250K)

We're in good financial shape with no debt but the need for $250K was totally unanticipated, hit us out of the blue.

Other options to raise $250K? Appreciate any suggestions.

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NYSERDA has great low interest loans. what do you need the $ for?

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I would do a combination:

e.g. $80K from the line of credit, 80K from the shareholders, then look at your mortgage to see about mortgage refi/rollover/expansion terms for the rest. And/or try spreading it out with financing from the contractor or from the wealthier SHs.

But, before any of that, I'd get a second opinion. What's the out-of-the-blue knock down crucial $250K project you're sure can't wait?

Ex Treasurer


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We had a basic roof survey done. The conclusion: it won't need replacement for at least 5 years. We can refinance our coop mortgage in 2012, but we have an "on paper" program for the money we'd need in 5 years if the refinancing goes sour or we need more money by then for something else.

We now having problems in top floor apts. We hired another firm to do a more in-depth survey. It seems we have damage below the roof substrate that can be "fixed" for 1-2 years, but no longer, and the roof will be at the end of its life. We of course want to replace the roof in 1-2 years at most before we get into major difficulty.

We spoke to our mortgage bank and the pre-payment penalty to refinance now rather than wait until 2012 is enormous, and would not decrease, so that's not an option.

Anyone have experience with a NYSERDA low-interest loan for roof replacement that could have energy-saving benefits?

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if you get them to do an "energy audit" and they mention you need insulation and you then do it - they will pay for most of your energy audit. PLUS help you pay for it. call them.

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NYSERDA's a viable option, but slow slow slow, and demanding. Worth looking into. We did, but didn't use it in the end (we refinanced the mortgage to re do our roof -- conveniently, it was coming due, and we lowered our rate)

Also, I seriously doubt you will need all the cash in 1-2 years. By the time you create specs, take bids & start the actual work, it could be 3-4 years b/f you need to complete payment. There's also the j-51 city rebate, later.


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Increase your line of credit immediately. We raised ours to $1m - it's effectively a second mortgage, though it's to be used only in emergencies (like yours).

Figure the cost of $250K over a 3-5 year period (including the interest on the LOC), and that's the amount to assess.

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Correction: Senate Page Link for Shareholder Bill of Rights - mhb and pwh Aug 30, 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.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)


Senate link showed as an error, so here is the Bill in it's entirety.




Legislative Information



Bill No.Approval No.Assembly Cal No.Assembly ResoAsm Rules CalChapter No.Senate Cal No.Senate ResoVeto No.Word Search - BillsWord Search - Resos   2007
Status Text Summary Sponsors Memo
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  Add Alert  S2386 LEIBELL


STATUS:
S2386  LEIBELL             
General Business Law
TITLE....Establishes a residential cooperative and condominium owner's bill of rights



02/05/07
REFERRED TO HOUSING, CONSTRUCTION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

SUMMARY:

LEIBELL
Add S352-eeeee, Gen Bus L; amd S339-v, RP L
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.

BILL TEXT:

STATE OF NEW YORK
________________________________________________________________________

2386

2007-2008 Regular Sessions

IN SENATE

February 5, 2007
___________

Introduced by Sen. LEIBELL -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
printed to be committed to the Committee on Housing, Construction and
Community Development

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

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
bly, do enact as follows:

1 Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section
2 352-eeeee to read as follows:
3 § 352-eeeee. Residential cooperative and condominium owner's bill of
4 rights. The organizational and operating documents of every residential
5 cooperative housing corporation and every residential condominium asso-
6 ciation established or operating pursuant to the laws of the state shall
7 guarantee the following to each shareholder or unit owner:
8 1. That (a) all applications in connection with matters which require
9 approval of the board of directors or board of managers and (b) all
10 requests for determinations by the board of directors or board of manag-
11 ers including but not limited to requests for the resolution of disputes
12 between or among shareholders or unit owners, disputes between share-
13 holders and the cooperative corporation or between unit owners and the
14 condominium association such as disputes concerning responsibility for
15 repairs shall be processed in a reasonably expeditious manner on a non-
16 discriminatory basis pursuant to uniform procedures and timetables
17 adopted in writing and any such approval shall not be unreasonably with-
18 held. The board's decision shall be in writing and shall set forth the
19 reasons therefor, except that no reason shall be required when approval
20 is granted. A board's refusal to allow a shareholder or unit owner to
21 sublet an apartment pursuant to a uniform policy which is reasonably
22 designed to prohibit or limit subletting shall not be deemed to be an
23 unreasonable withholding of consent pursuant to this subdivision. The

EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
LBD07025-01-7

S. 2386 2

1 foregoing provisions of this subdivision shall not prohibit the enforce-
2 ment of uniform reasonable policies related to the health, safety and
3 welfare of the residents and the safe and prudent operation of the prem-
4 ises.
5 2. That elections for members of the board of directors or the board
6 of managers be held by secret ballot, unless waived by a unanimous vote
7 of the shareholders present in person or by proxy at the election meet-
8 ing, or in the case of an uncontested election. A tally of the votes
9 received by each candidate in an election for the board of managers or
10 board of directors shall be posted within one day following the avail-
11 ability of such information in a prominent place accessible to all
12 tenants in each building comprising the cooperative or condominium.
13 3. That the board of directors or board of managers act in a timely
14 fashion to fill any vacancies which occur on such boards.
15 4. That any member of a board of directors or board of managers who is
16 elected while a shareholder or unit owner in the cooperative corporation
17 or condominium association, who sells his or her apartment or the shares
18 allocated thereto, and who, subsequent to such sale shall no longer be a
19 shareholder or unit owner in such corporation or association, shall
20 resign from such board no later than the closing date of such sale.
21 5. That complete and accurate financial statements and any other
22 statements ordinarily provided to shareholders or unit owners be
23 provided in a timely fashion pursuant to established timetables at least
24 once annually. For the purposes of this subdivision "financial state-
25 ments" shall include the balance sheets and statements of income and
26 expense for each of the three most current fiscal years. Attached to
27 said financial statements shall be a statement which discloses (a) any
28 known interest, direct or indirect, beneficial or otherwise, which any
29 director, association member, officer, employee, agent, shareholder or
30 condominium owner or relative of any such person has in any supplier of
31 services or material to said cooperative or condominium and (b) any
32 consideration, financial or otherwise, which said director, association
33 member, officer, employee, agent, shareholder or condominium owner or
34 relative of any such person has received or is receiving from such
35 supplier.
36 6. That the following documents be made available for inspection or
37 copying by shareholders or unit owners at reasonable times on no more
38 than ten days written notice to the board of directors or board of
39 managers:
40 (a) approved minutes of board of directors or board of managers meet-
41 ings, provided that such boards shall have fifteen days from the dates
42 of the meetings at which the minutes are approved to prepare such
43 minutes;
44 (b) agreements and bills for goods and services. All such agreements
45 and bills shall fully describe the goods provided or services performed
46 and apportion the total cost for specific goods or services;
47 (c) banking account and financial investment statements;
48 (d) vendor lists and competitive bidding submissions;
49 (e) reports of accountants, consultants and experts retained or hired
50 to perform services for or on behalf of the corporation or association
51 including financial statements as defined in subdivision five of this
52 section provided, however, that such reports may be withheld where the
53 report concerns or may concern litigation, where the report was prepared
54 in connection with the litigation and where a majority of the members of
55 the board have voted to withhold such information. Where the matter
56 concerns alleged conflict of interest or malfeasance involving board

S. 2386 3

1 members the report may be withheld only upon a vote of the majority of
2 disinterested board members. If all board members are interested parties
3 the report may not be withheld; and
4 (f) reports by municipal and/or county inspectors concerning compli-
5 ance with health, building and housing codes and regulations.
6 7. That in addition to any other notice required by the cooperative
7 corporation's or condominium association's organizational or operating
8 documents, notice of all board and shareholder or unit owner meetings be
9 posted in a prominent place accessible to all shareholders and unit
10 owners in each building comprising the cooperative or condominium.
11 8. That the board of directors or board of managers shall not impose
12 special assessments, or enter into contracts for extraordinary expenses
13 beyond customary operating or maintenance costs, without approval by a
14 vote of the shareholders or unit owners. A vote of the shareholders or
15 unit owners may be waived by the board in the case of (a) an emergency
16 evidenced by an approved resolution of the board, (b) a required refi-
17 nancing of an existing mortgage or (c) where shareholders or unit owners
18 have been notified of the proposed action in writing within a reasonable
19 period of time prior to the proposed date of implementation of the
20 action and where such notice provides that the board may waive a vote
21 unless at least a certain percent of the shareholders or unit owners
22 demand in writing that the action be put to a vote. Such percentage may
23 not exceed fifty percent.
24 § 2. Subdivision 1 of section 339-v of the real property law is
25 amended by adding a new paragraph (k) to read as follows:
26 (k) That a member of the board of managers who is elected to fill a
27 vacancy, unless elected by a general vote of the unit owners, shall hold
28 office until the next meeting of unit owners at which the election of a
29 member or members of the board of managers is in the regular order of
30 business, and until his or her successor has been elected and qualified.
31 § 3. Within 6 months of the effective date of this act the attorney
32 general shall promulgate a handbook summarizing the rights of sharehold-
33 ers and unit owners vis-a-vis cooperative corporations and condominium
34 associations and the procedures and processes available to shareholders
35 and unit owners to enforce such rights.
36 § 4. This act shall take effect immediately; provided, however, that
37 as to residential cooperative housing corporations and residential
38 condominium associations existing and operating as such on the effective
39 date of this act the boards of directors of such corporations and the
40 boards of managers of such associations shall within 1 year of the
41 effective date of this act take all steps necessary to amend the appro-
42 priate organizational and operating documents of such corporations or
43 associations to implement the provisions of this act.

SPONSORS MEMO:
NEW YORK STATE SENATE
INTRODUCER'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1
 
BILL NUMBER: S2386

SPONSOR: LEIBELL             
 
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

 
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The purpose of this bill is to clarify the rights and responsibilities
of shareholders and boards of directors of cooperative corporations,
unit owners and boards of managers of condominium associations.

 
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
This bill would add a new section 352-eeeee to the general business law,
to require the board association of cooperatives and condominiums to:

1. Process requests for action in an expeditious, non-discriminatory
fashion, according to uniform written procedures;

2. Hold elections by secret ballot and post election results;

3. Fill vacancies in a timely fashion;

4. Provide for the resignation of members of the board if the person is
selling their interest in the corporation or association;

5. Provide financial statements to all owners in a timely fashion, on at
least an annual basis; such statement must include information on
member's financial interest in any company providing goods or services
to the corporation or association;

6. Make various documents available to all owners for inspection;

7. Post notice of meetings at least ten days prior to the meeting;

8. Notify, and in some cases seek approval from, owners before imposing
special assessments or entering into contracts for extraordinary
expenses; and

9. Provide owners with written procedures for requesting timely determi-
nation by the board or association of disputes.

Additionally, the bill would also amend section 339-v of the real prop-
erty law to require that board members chosen to fill vacancies must
stand for election at the next meeting of unit owners where elections
are scheduled.

This bill would also amend the unconsolidated laws to require the Attor-
ney General and the Department of Law, within six months of the effec-
tive date of this act, to issue a handbook describing rights of owners
vis-a-vis their board or association.

 
JUSTIFICATION:
Boards of directors of cooperative corporations and boards of managers
of condominium associations exercise broad authority over the rights and
financial interests of individual property owners.


Presently these boards and associations possess are given broad legal
discretion under the law.

This bill would establish a number of important due process rights for
individual property owners in dealing with their board or association
and also create general standards for the conduct of business by these
boards or associations.

While most boards and associations perform admirably in managing their
buildings' affairs, there have been reports of abuses. Complaints have
been received from property owners who feel that they have been dealt
with in an arbitrary and capricious manner by the board or association.
The protection incorporated in this bill would help to ensure that prop-
erty owners are dealt with fairly and have access to important informa-
tion regarding the management of the buildings which constitute their
homes.

 
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2006 - 4766 - Referred to the Rules Committee

 
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
Minimal cost to Attorney General and the Department of Law for printing
and distributing handbook.

 
EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act would take effect immediately, and existing boards would have
one year to come into compliance.


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2 year rule - coop member Aug 29, 2007


yes, it is legal to restrict renting until after a resident has lived in the unit for two years, as long as this is in the coop bylaws.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)


The PL may say that you can rent (sublet) units, but it is up to the board to look after the wellbeing of the co-op; consequently, the sublet policy is redacted to protect the interests of the shareholders. If Steve says that 70% of occupied units is seen as a good measure for providing financing to a potential buyer, then a good board shall make the sublet policy in such a way to ensure than no more than 30% of the units are rented at one time. If your co-op is less than the "magic" number prescribed by the policy and 2-year is the total number of years that you can rent under the policy, speak "hardship" if there is one OR the reasons why you may want to exceed the 2-year.

Again, "ASK AND YOU MAY RECEIVE". In other words, if you do not try, you may not get an exception if one can be given under specific circumstances.

AdC

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