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assessment - DP Oct 08, 2020

Hello,

Is a coop board or management company legally obligated to inform shareholders when they get their assessment what that annual assessment will be used for? Ahead of time.

I live in a very compromised building—meaning 100+ years, not well kept up, needing so many crucial things (curb appeal is always the last on the list). We have very little reserve funds. I explain this only to acknowledge that emergencies come up all the time, where that assessment money might end up going. But I would like to know what the actual law is around this, what the protocol is... Are they required to tell us beforehand?

Looking for informed answers, please, rather than opinions.

Thank you!

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

As far as I know there is no statute or regulation requiring a board to disclose how an assessment will be used. Something called the Business Judgement Rule gives boards broad discretionary powers to make decisions without having to justify them, as long as they are legal and in the best interests of the co-op.

It sounds to me as if you already have some idea of where the money will go. Have you tried asking the board what the assessment will be used for? Most boards will inform their shareholders beforehand why the are being assessed, but there is no specific requirement to do so I am aware of.

They could use as generic a reason as "reserve fund replenishment", which, in the situation you describe, is a very valid reason.

If you believe there is some sort of malfeasance going on, either check with an attorney or search online for how to report suspected co-op board misbehavior. Ultimately you can vote to replace members of the board at the annual shareholder meeting, or if it is urgent enough, check your bylaws for how to cal a special shareholder meeting for the purpose of recalling one or more of the board members.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thank you Steve. Your first paragraph answers my question.
I had been asking the building's management company to tell me beforehand what their plans were. Now, understanding that there is no requirement for them to do so, I'm done with that request.

The rest is stuff I either already knew, or cannot actualize. Too long, too pathetic a story to tell of a building where at our last shareholders meeting, we couldn't even elect a new board b/c we didn't have a quorum. It's that kind of building—impossible to accomplish much. Very annoying.

Thanks again.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I understand what you are going through can be very agravating and frustrating. Good luck with receiving the information you are asking for.

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COVID, The By-Laws & HDC - Nichole Oct 06, 2020

I own a Co-Op in Harlem, while I am currently living in another state to take care of my ill father. I was recently subletting my unit to a tenant. However, in August, she moved out. Due to COVID, coupled with the illness of my dad, I do not feel comfortable moving back to NYC as I would need to commute back to care for him regularly. Unfortunately, my building is governed by some HDC regulation that only allows subleasing for 2 out of every 4 years. Does anyone have any guidance on this? I am pleading with my board to extend grace for at least one year. I love my apartment and do not want to give it up. But with the current situation and impending shutdown of the city again, I cannot risk the regular back and forth commute to my very ill father. Any thoughts on what I can do to delay this? I do not want to sell my unit!

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coop conversions from 1970's and 1980's - Veronica Feliciano Sep 26, 2020

I am a shareholder in a coop that was formed in 1986. The sponsor still owns 64% of the shares. We have a board of directors 7 people, but we do not, have a majority of shareholders who live in the building on the board. Are there any other coops who have the same problems that we do. The sponsor still owning a majority of the shares, if you sell your apartment, you have to sell to a cash buyer because the banks won't approve mortgages for a sponsor owned coop, having to live in a building that is a majority of renters rather than owners. Also having very little say in what happens as far as repairs, the cost of repairs, when the building is run like a rental building. I bought this coop in 1989 with the hope of this becoming a real coop. What, if anything, have other buildings done to correct this situation?

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co-op with garage space - co-op with garage space Sep 22, 2020

I currently live in a 8 building co-op complex in Queens. My daughter, who is looking to purchase a co-op in the same complex, found an apartment that she is interested in purchasing. She found an apartment that has been on the market for a long time now. Apparently, the apartment was purchased by an individual many years earlier with a parking space attached to it. My daughter loves the apartment but doesn't want to buy the parking space. The management mentioned that in order for her to purchase the apartment the parking space has to be sold beforehand. Nothing can be done unless the parking spot is acquired hence the long duration on the open market for that apartment. Is this even legally correct and what are my options in moving forward?

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I can't see any reason why it would *not* be a valid requirement. Co-op's were created with all sorts of covenants in their governing documents, and I bet the relationship of the parking spot to the unit itself can be found in the Proprietary Lease. You may have to go back to the Offering Plan, or the other documents like the Bylaws and House Rules.

As for being "legally correct", there is no law, governmental regulation, or section of administrative code I am aware of that addresses the relationship between a parking spot and a co-op unit. Parking spots are usually highly coveted, and shareholders can make a lot of money renting them out (if allowed by the co-op).

I am not a lawyer, so the above is all supposition on my part. If it really becomes a sticking point, your best bet is to consult with an attorney, or maybe try searching in Google for parking spot attachment to co-op apartments.

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I agree with Steven. I would contact management and directly ask if your daughter would have the right to rent out her parking space.

If they say yes, ask them to show her where in the Lease, By-Laws, or House Rules it says this.

If it actually says it, have her meet with real estate attorney to confirm this. If so, then could use that attorney since this seems to be the only possible sticking point.

In my co-op parking spaces are not attached to the apartment because they are so coveted, as Steven notes.

Good luck!

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Document Fees for refi - Sky high or normal? - Riley Blake Sep 16, 2020

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to refi my mortgage to take advantage of the lower rate (not taking any money out).
My lender says the building management is using a website called 'Board Packager' - Here's a list of the fees the bank is asking me to pay to obtain documents:

2020 budget $25
2019 budget $50
2018 budget $50
Bank Questionnaire $250
Lease $50

$425 plus tax = $446.25

I'm pissed right now. Do I have a right to be?

> Join the conversation Comments (3)

Hi, pissed --

Document retrieval fees can range all over the board (pun sort of intended), so there's no definite guidelines as to what they should be.

Is it your managing agent or your bank that is asking you to pay the retrieval fees? If its your bank, you might ask your MA how much they would charge.

The individual fees look "reasonable" to me. Remember that neither the MA nor the bank keep copies lying around. They have to task an employee to search the paper files or computer folders for the documents. They may have to print them out or convert them to PDF format depending on what you ask for. The Questionaire may require time spent researching the answers to specific question.

You might try searching your own files. Every shareholder is supposed to receive a copy of each annual budget, and you should have been given a copy of your lease when you closed on your unit. If you can find those you can save some of the fees.

But the real answer is, yes, these are partly nuisance fees the organization uses to raise a little extra capital. But they know they have you, and really, what percentage of the refi amount does the $446.25 represent?

Think of it as a cost of doing business. Consider how much you'll be saving each month after the refi, and it may give you a different perspective.

--- Steve

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IMHO, the MA have a website where you can download these docs for a price, so the 'work' of converting the doc to a PDF was done a long time ago and frankly, it's not much work if they have recurring revenue off it.

I complained to my contact and, as a compromise, she forwarded me the annual budgets so that saves me $125.

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The actual fee amounts you mention are pretty much par for the course with co-ops.

I must say I find the whole BoardPackager setup a somewhat dubious. Some cursory research suggests that there is some overlap between BoardPackager's board and the employees of my co-op's managing agent.

It's all very opaque - what exactly is the arrangement between BoardPackager, the managing agent, and the co-op? If BoardPackager didn't exist, then those fees would be going to the managing agent, and arguably reducing the management fee charged to the co-op / offsetting the cost of providing the documents / service (in theory). With BoardPackager in the mix, it looks for all the world like BoardPackager syphons off at least some of the revenue that might otherwise go to shareholders or at least reduce the management fee.

Of course, co-ops often have slightly opaque contracts / revenue-sharing agreements with laundry companies, parking garage managers, and the like, but those are at least periodically put out to a competitive bid, and there is no overlap in employees between the managing agent and the provider, that seems to take things one step further.

Maybe it's all totally above board and I have the wrong impression, who knows...

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80% Carpet Rule - NYC Aug 14, 2020

Our co-op specifies a fine for upper units that do not follow the 80% carpet rule. To my knowledge this has has never been an issue until now.

A new shareholder is having this problem with a longtime shareholder above him.

The upper shareholder is up at 4 A.M. and very inconsiderate that there is person living beneath them.

The longtime shareholder is very friendly with board members and feels she is untouchable as far as rules and regulations.

The new shareholder sent a letter to the person above him as well as to the board of directors a month ago.

He explained that he is currently working from home and asked if she could be a little more considerate.

He has not heard back from the B.O.D. or the upper shareholder who has continued her clamorous behavior. Any help would be greatly appreciated





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I had major issue with neighbors upstairs above me. Sent at least 50 emails to board and managing agent and nothing was done! Very disturbing ... and odd.

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Thank for your response.

Sounds like it's an antiquated rule that probably needs to be removed from the "Rules and Regulations" .

I guess unless a rule is also an actual law it is not enforceable.

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I don’t think it’s antiquated... I think it’s necessary even tho it is apparently unenforceable ... people should be aware and considerate if others. The residents who are at fault are not the ones who are subjected to the noise and disturbance of footsteps back and forth at sometimes ungodly hours. When the noise disrupts ones enjoyment in their apt it should been enforceable. Not a big deal to add area rugs to exposed areas.but considerate for those who live below

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I agree and thanks to Steve , I passed on some interesting information to the shareholders who is having the problem

This is one of our house rules that carries a fine. In addition our proprietary lease has a clause about peaceful enjoyment and noise.

hopefully when this is addressed with the B.O.D. , they will stop ignoring this shareholder and mediate the situation.

If they continue to make no effort to resolve the problem, they might be in breach of the warranty of habitability.

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Rules in the House Rules are enforceable if the board has the authority to levy fines for non-compliance. Whether or not it has the will to do so is another story.

Try putting "NYC apartment 80% carpet rule" into Google. There is a very large number of articles and some may give you practical ideas on how to deal with this issue.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Thanks Steve, :)

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Don't know how I passed up "Consequences for Not Complying". Thanks again Steve....

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Selling Coop - Sonia Aug 13, 2020

Would I be able to sell a coop that I own but have owed maintenance fees?
Because of Covid, my financial situation is not secure and My best option is to sell but can no longer pay my maintenance fees.

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You should be able to sell your co-op under these circumstances. The co-op would recover all past due maintenance at the closing, meaning that you'll receive less $$, but the debt would be gone.

You should ask the Board and/or the Building Manager to confirm that you'll be allowed to do this.

Good luck.

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COVID SANITATION FEE - HOLLY Aug 02, 2020

Has anyone heard of charging a Covid-19 Sanitation Fee for those who move out, regardless of whether they are a shareholder who sold their apartment or a sublet whose lease has not been renewed and is simply moving out ?

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No, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's improper. The specter of contagion from the active virus being left on surfaces after someone moves out is very real, although the longevity of surface contact has been greatly reduced.

Before getting upset, find out what the fee covers. Then do your homework in Google to see if the fee being charged is customary for the work being done. You might ask them for the name of the hazmat company performing the work. You'll probably be told the building super or porter will do the actual sanitizing.

You should then ask for a certification document listing all the areas sanitized, in case you are sued by the next occupant if they claim they contracted COVID-19 from an improperly cleaned apartment. There are probably specs somewhere on the internet on what is considered proper cleaning.

It's a very gray area. If they hire a company or a porter has to spend extra time doing an additional level of cleaning, they are entitled to reimbursement. But if they want to charge you $500 for an hour's extra work by a building employee, it's borderline scam.

Your question made me curious so I did a little research. This article may help: https://aagla.org/2020/06/post-covid-cleaning-and-turnover-protocols-for-your-rental-property/

This is a judgment call on your part. Good luck!

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Hi Steven424:
Appreciate your reply and let me give more details: This is a Coop in New York, the article you refer to is from the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, this is a Coop in New York and not an apartment building and not a Condo, it is a New York Coop that is charging shareholders who sold their unit a Covid Sanitation fee of $300 to move out.

I realize I asked a generalize question and should have said this is not sanitation of the interior of a unit.
This is a fee to wipe down the building’s front door knob and elevator knob.
This is not ‘an additional level of cleaning’ this is literally spraying disinfectant and wiping down the front door and elevator knobs with a paper towel. Again this is not an interior sanitation of a unit. This fee is specifically aimed at shareholders using a licensed and insured Professional Moving Company. If a person has 15 friends help them move their belongings out of the building, there is no Covid Sanitation Fee charged and there is no sanitation of the front door or elevator knobs.

Again the cleaning is supposed to happen after the movers have completed the move. While the movers are doing their work, there are residents entering and exiting the building at the same time who are not wearing masks or gloves; the movers are wearing masks and gloves.
While the movers are actively carrying belongings out of the building there is no sanitation happening, so if Covid were to enter into the building it could easily be from those residents not wearing masks or gloves or from anyone entering the building at that time.

If the 15 friends are doing the move out, the Coop cannot and is not requiring the friends wear masks or gloves and the Coop is not sanitizing the front door or elevator knobs after the 15 friend complete the move out. The movers are wearing masks and gloves. If the shareholder does not pay the $300 sanitizing fee they are prohibited from moving out, so the shareholder is being forced to pay the $300 fee in order to simply move out, which is an essential event.

The Coop is not charging Covid Sanitation fees for construction work. Construction workers are removing demo debris and bringing in materials and gear, going in and out for lunch over the span of a week or weeks and for full 8 hour work days, renovating a kitchen is not essential, new carpeting is not essential, moving was deemed essential.

Let’s get into what they are sanitizing:
#1 the front door knobs
#2 the elevator door knob at the lobby entrance
#3 the interior elevator push panel
#4 the elevator knobs on the floor of the shareholder moving out

That is 4 contact points, how long would you say it takes to wipe down 4 contact points? Not an hour, it should be 15 minutes maximum but more like 8 minutes maximum, right?
How much does a roll of paper towel cost? Let’s say $5 and that is generous.
How much for four sprays of Lysol? $15.00 and that is generous.
There should be no labor costs as the sanitizing is happening during the Super’s work day. This 8 minute chore should not be a burden on the Super’s schedule as move-outs are not happening every day, maybe one or two move outs a month. The Coop is already purchasing sanitation supplies in bulk so the cost is lower than $20 for four sheets of paper towel and four sprays of Lysol.

Keep in mind, when a shareholder sells their unit they are required to pay a capital improvement fee back to the Coop which depending upon the unit shares ranges from $1,500 to $4,500 or more and that is hefty sum to leave behind.

I did ‘do your homework’ and found no info that licensed insured professional moving companies specifically increase the risk of Covid which is why I asked if anyone heard of charging a Covid fee specifically for moving out. I wasn’t really seeking an opinion about risks of Covid or concerns of being sued as it would be very difficult to prove where someone contracted Covid. I wanted to know if any Coop was charging a Covid Sanitizing fee for door and elevator knobs which targets those who moved out using a licensed and insured Professional Moving Company.

The building is allowing shareholders to renovate their apartments so there are more construction workers going in and out over the course of days where movers who work in teams of 3 are present for an approximate three hour move out. The Coop is allowing door to door deliveries of all sorts and all kinds of services which permit entry into the building and to any floor and into any unit.

So, is any Coop in New York charging a Covid $300 move out Sanitation Fee because they are using a licensed and insured Professional Moving Company to carry out their belongings? And what are the thoughts of charging a sanitation fee to wipe down the front door and elevator buttons of a building only in a move out situation?
Would you still consider it a: ‘if they want to charge you $500 for an hour's extra work by a building employee, it's borderline scam.’ Looking forward to your reply!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Hi, I’m curious what resolution you came to on this? Our coop is trying to charge the same fee. $300. Obviously this is something cooked up by a large management company and getting rubber stamped by coop Boards. I wonder, is your coop managed by First Residential?

My coop can’t provide me with itemized expenses or who will even do this work and I’ve challenged their legal authority to impose a new fee on essential activity, especially in such a targeted way. Their response is they will call the police if I try to move without signing the document that includes agreeing to the $300. Unbelievable.

Curious if you were able to fight this successfully and if so what was effective.

Thanks.

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Hi Dave: So, sorry to learn that you are denied the right to an itemize bill, pressured, intimidated and threatened with “will call the police if I try to move without signing the document”. This is a money-grab and price gouging by board and mgt that targets only those who move out. I do hope and wish you stand up to them.

There is no scientific data that moving companies increase Covid risk or spread.
Everyday delivery ppl, construction, mail delivery and residents enter and exit a building but they don’t charge them a sanitation fee, right?
Why because they can’t demand, force or threaten them into it. But you, they have you in between a rock and a hard place. I wish more would chime in so this abusive predatory fee could get some attention.

If you haven’t, send mgmt & board an email requesting the all the details for documentation. Ask why & how isn’t the sanitation fee covered by the flip tax fees, too.

I’m curious was the “will call the police” verbally said by the mgmt, the super or do you have this in writing? If in writing, that is Gold and next step have a lawyer write a letter asking where in the governing docs is this fee permitted, name of company performing the service and an itemized bill –all of the details. If you could contact the cleaning company to try to negotiate their fee down. It might cost you a some $ for the lawyer but hopefully less than the $300 sanitation fee, so you would have still paid less than the full $300 and will have gotten the feeling of winning.

When you do move out, take before and after photos/video of the elevator so they then don’t claim you damaged it. No, I don’t have First Residential, but to not respond to a shareholder’s question they sound nasty, aggressive and punitive, why are mgmt companies like this???

In my building there are board members who won’t wear a mask, can you believe this? This is a walk-up and ppl are huffing and puffing up and down the stairs and not wearing a mask, now that is Covid spread risk.

I encouraged the person moving out to email the board president that the fee was excessive, no proof of movers spreading Covid and the president refunded their money BUT the refund was done begrudgingly, as though it came out of their own pocket and they would go hungry for 2 days. Also, I received grief over it and most likely if I were to now move, I would be penalized and charged double the sanitation fee.

How do we get a habitat mag lawyer to respond to this sanitation fee?
Please do share how you will fight this fee and the outcome. Good Luck.

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theWhitney at 200 east 90th st is charging a $900 sanitation fee for professional movers.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

At "the Whitney at 200 east 90th st is charging a $900 sanitation fee for professional movers" that is a disgrace and shame on them, too!

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ESAs overnight stay - BMC Jul 23, 2020

Our co-op is a no-dog building, but the board accommodates ESAs and service animals with a physician's letter.
The question is must we allow the shareholder with an approved ESA to have a second ESA of a friend/relative visit and be allowed to stay overnight? Our current pet regulations say only one dog per unit, but again this is about a visiting ESA.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

While I understand that you choose to live in a pet restricted community, it is difficult to understand why a situation like this this would bother anyone.

ERA's are obedient, well behaved and quiet. They provide emotional support, assistance , companionship and love to their owners.

Your house rules limit the number of ESA's a shareholder may own. It doesn't infringing upon a resident's rights by restricting an overnight guest who also requires an ESA.


https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/enforcement/2019...

https://adata.org/guide/service-animals-and-emotional-support-animals

https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/ada-service-dog-laws/

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COVID & apt. elevators - DP Jul 15, 2020

Hello,

Does anyone know if there are any new, specific (and legal?) requirements, guidelines, rules, etc. about the following?Knowledgeable answers please.

My 55-unit coop has a small (less than 6' long), old, kind of dirty elevator, with no fans, no moving air, etc. I know the supers are cleaning the surfaces, hopefully daily. But it has a nasty rug on the floor—I've been advocating its removal for years now, to no avail.

But this is the bigger problem, and my question: Yesterday I encountered two different individuals (one going in, a different one coming out) using the elevator without wearing a mask. I then had to enter the elevator immediately afterwards. I was uncomfortable doing so and felt unsafe. Has anyone seen any references to this anywhere?

Thank you!

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

NYS guidelines state that more than one person can be in an elevator, but only if they've been sheltering together during the quarantine. Non sheltering people should not be in the elevator together. They should only ride the elevator one passenger at a time.

If you google "NYS elevator covid guidelines", you'll see a link to COVID-19: FAQ for Residential Buildings - NYC.gov.

In part, it states that..."Face coverings should be worn when a distance of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained. To avoid crowding, limit the number of people in the elevator at the same time. People should consider only riding the elevator with their own party, taking the stairs or waiting for the next elevator. (Jun 26, 2020)

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Thank you Marty for your reply. Unfortunately, it doesn't answer my question. I'm aware of all you've said. This is something a bit different. The most up-to-date info I've read is that COVID CAN remain airborne. I never go into the elevator with anyone else. I always wear a mask. But if someone in the elevator before me wasn't wearing a mask and has coughed, sneezed, cleared their throat, talked on their phone—done anything that spreads whatever is in their exhalation—a subsequent person in that elevator can be affected. I am hoping the governor will take this into account and not just talk about the 6' requirement, but masks to be worn in a small space PERIOD.

I have already reached out to his office. Let's see what happens.

Thank you.

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Unfortunately, there is no good answer for most buildings. I found this article about the hangtime of the virus in the atmosphere: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#:~:text=Aerosolized%20coronavirus%20can%20remain%20in,up%20to%20three%20hours.

Unless your elevator has surveillance camera monitoring there is no way to know who rode in it before, how long ago, were they wearing a mask, and did they sneeze, cough, etc. It's a reality we all have to deal with. The only alternative I can think of is using the stairs, but that is not an option for many apartment dwellers.

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Thanks Steven. The article was great & I will share it.
I am presently less interested in identifying those without masks, b/c there's no law, no teeth, about it. And that's what I was asking about. Unfortunately, the answer is "no." Also, I don't need to look at videos... I pass people daily. I see, in real time, who does & doesn't wear masks.

I was hoping against hope that there were some new guidelines for apartment buildings—some rules with teeth. But there aren't. I understand my options and the alternatives, and sometimes I do take the stairs (I'm on the 6th floor). But when I want to go bike riding, that's not an option; I must use the elevator.

Thanks.

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You''re welcome, DP. I have the same problem with my bicycle you do with yours. I live on the 5th floor and its a real hassle getting the bike up and down the stairs. Whenever I'm anywhere in my building I have my mask on, and will only ride in the elevator solo.

I doubt we'll see any new laws or regulations with any teeth because enforcement will be all but impossible. No building can afford to have a dedicated elevator monitor, let alone find someone willing to continuously ride up and down in an elevator with potential spreaders while observing people's masking behavior. It seems that when people follow the guidelines we do have (masks and >6' separation), the chance of contracting COVID-19 are greatly reduced.

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Indeed... And I don't need a monitor, but I did need something in writing. Something clear and specific, where there was none.

So I have made progress, even though there is no law to enforce anything. I finally got the building management to put up signs explicitly about masks in common areas. Four months into this! Now, when I see a fellow resident not wearing one, I can point to the sign and more easily, more safely, ask them to do so. So, that's a start.

Nothing substantial will really happen until this administration wakes up. Personally, I hope when Nov. 4 comes, theirs will be a rude awakening. At that time, we as a society, and as individuals, will have a lot of work to do.

Stay safe. Stay aware. And thanks for your thoughtful input......

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