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Co-op Star Revisions - Queens Jun 08, 2018

Has anyone received the June revised breakdown letter from the D.O.F. They keep saying they sent it but our co-op has not received the revised copy yet. Can't seem to get a straight answer.

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Although we received confirmation via email of a correction to our statement, we don't want to issue checks to shareholders until we have the actual revised statement and those checks must be issued by June 30th. I wrote to the DOF yesterday and here is its response: "We expect to mail revised 17/18 coop tax benefit letters in late June."

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Thanks, the response I received was "They are mailing one more revised breakdown in JUNE and if the corrections are not on that letter to contact them again".

Has the co-op received the credits from the D.O.F. but without the breakdown letter the P.M, doesn't know how to distribute them?

Our P.M. is playing possum and telling the shareholders they have to contact the D.O.F.

Just thinking, if they have the credits, they should know something is wrong and take action.

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Did you receive the final revisions? Our co-op has not..

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lowering rental % in a NJ coop - pk Jun 08, 2018

In 2014, our NJ coop passed the following resolution in our 150 unit building.

l) The rental resolution was passed unanimously restricting further rental units until the
building is under the 30% guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

We are currently at 23%. Can we lower our rate again, by resolution, to 25%?

Where can I look to find info on how low we can set our rental rate?

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Upstairs neighbor toilet leak - emkharts Jun 04, 2018

I own a co-op in Westchester county and a few years ago, my upstairs neighbor's toilet was leaking into my ceiling and caused damage to my ceiling/wall. When the super went to inspect he told me it appear the neighbor had done his own renovation and laid new tile on top of the old and reinstalled the toilet and it was uneven, poorly done. After hounding the property manager to get him to address the leak they sent him a letter telling him he had to remove the second layer of tile and have a plumber repair/reinstall the toilet. It took 3 months of me again hounding the property manager to follow up and finally when a plumber shows up to check he simply flushed the upstairs toilet 20 times and since no water leaked during this flushing the owner refused to pay for plumbing repairs and property manager allowed him to send plumber away without resolving issue. They never notified me the plumber was coming or I would have been home for the visit. The property manager then sent the super into my apartment a few days later, without notifying me beforehand, to replace the damaged drywall. Few weeks later I get nasty letter from property manager saying they repaired my ceiling even though it was a shareholder to shareholder issue they weren't required to do and in the future I should handle it directly with the shareholder above as they are not responsible. Well, it's now the future and my ceiling has new water damage. My upstairs neighbor is clearly a jerk who takes no responsibility for any damages he causes me or others and I will not deal with him any more. He has also caused 2 bedbug infestations in the last year because he would not pay for professional exterminator and the latest financial statement shows a $35,000 increase in exterminator fees due to 6+ months of weekly inspection, treatment for common areas, etc. Due to his refusal to exterminate. (Property manager had to get health department to deem it unsanitary and slap notice on his front door to get him to let exterminator in).
If the property manager is aware that a shareholder is negligently causing water damage to another aren't they responsible to have that shareholder make necessary repairs? Should I contact my homeowner's insurance to repair my bathroom and let them go after his insurance? I really don't want to repair my bathroom yet until I know that there is a way to force the upstairs neighbor to make the necessary repairs. This is the 3rd time I need to replace this same section of wall due to this leak. Doesnt the warranty of habitability apply to co-op associations? My property manager is extremely nasty and basically claims they have no responsibility to address issues between shareholders.
This shareholder is a financial burden and giant PITA to everyone who lives here, doesn't the board have a responsibility to do something about him??
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Sorry for the lengthy post.

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If your board/managing agent refuses to address this matter I would contact your insurance company. This can also cause mold. Unlike our co op our neighbor has broken her toilet 2xs leaked down to the neighbor and guess who picked up her bill? Yes we all did, why she is part of the favorites. She refuses to get a handicap toilet and hits it with her wheelchair. So we have to pay and she gets off free and clear. When you call your insurance company they will advise you what can be done. Best of Luck

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Probably the safest way of dealing with the upstairs neighbor you describe is to get your insurance carrier involved immediately. They've probably dealt this this kind of situation before and can advise you how to proceed.

As for the bedbugs, I think if you call 311 and lodge a complaint, they will send a Dept of Buildings or Board of Health inspector. If bedbugs are discovered, the agency will oversee the remediation. In this regard, the board has certain mandated responsibilities that the agency will enforce.

Good luck.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I had a water leak from an upstairs neighbor who let his defective toilet overflow, due to dementia. He was a renter with no insurance. But I contacted my insurance company immediately. They were wonderful. They promptly sent an adjuster, then the contractor I selected, cleaned and dried out the apartment...footed the bill for a hotel room, even paying for meals and damaged possessions. Offered several repair options..

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Westchester doesn't have 311, wish we did, it is an outstanding system.
I had it worse, board/managing company was informed of fire hazard in a owners apartment multiple times. Every time i saw his adjacent apartment neighbor we would talk about when we would get burnt out, then at 315am it happened, it has been over a year and the building is still not rebuilt , all apartments involved, 60 apartments displaced. Most Homeowners insurance policy's only cover 1 year of relocation payments, something for coop owners to look into, since rebuilding an apartment building requires a lot of permits , and in this area, it will not be accomplished in a year.

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Perhaps the entire confrontation would not have occurred if our # 1selling Basement Watchdog Water Alarms to instantly detect water leaks was behind the toilet?
Why not email jerry@glentronics.com to learn our purchasing programs?
www.basementwatchdog.com
www.stopflooding.com
“It’s not if but when”

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Discount for advance payment of an assesment - is it legal? - DM May 29, 2018

My understanding is that all shareholders must be assessed equally. Therefore, if you offer

a discount for advance payment - wouldn't that mean those who can afford it are sssesed a different amount and it would therefore be illegal?

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My experience with assessments is that your statement is correct. Everyone must be assessed at the same rate, which is usually done on a $$ per share assessment.

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Assessments are used to raise a certain amount of working capital to cover either an existing or anticipated expense. It is calculated by taking the amount to be raised, divided by the number of co-op shares, divided by the number of months over which the assessment will be levied. Period.

There is no logical or fiscally viable reason why a board should knowingly reduce the amount of money an assessment brings in by offering <b>any</b> sort of a discount or reduction.

At the end of the day, the full amount of a properly calculated assessment will need to be raised. If a 5% prepayment discount is offered, and every shareholder prepays, where will the last 5% come from? Another assessment? And if only some of the shareholders can afford to prepay, there is no faster way of pitting neighbor on neighbor than the appearance of financial favoritism, legal or otherwise.

Prepayment discounts on assessment obligations is a very bad idea.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

If the prepayment avoids the building borrowing money for a portion of the assessment, thus lowering the interest charged to the shareholders (b/c if an assessment is happening, it is likely to be paying back a loan), why wouldn't a discount be offered?

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In the outlier scenario you describe, your only choices may be a 2% LoC draw or a 2% bribe. However, in my humble opinion, if a co-op has so little money in it's reserve accounts that they are forced to use their line of credit to initially cover an unanticipated expense, then the co-op has far greater fiscal issues than whether or not to offer shareholders an inducement to advance the money.

They way this is *supposed* to work is a co-op maintains a minimum of about three month's worth of maintenance income in their reserve account. If the co-op get hit with an unanticipated expense, the reserve funds are used to cover the expense. Then, the board imposes an assessment to replenish the reserve account in an orderly manner. The LoC is untouched and there are no unnecessary interest payments.

The reason it's *supposed* to work this way is to avoid the exact scenario described here. Whether the LoC has a 2% interest rate or the co-op offers a 2% prepayment discount, the co-op is still short 2%. With the LoC, all shareholders equally share the pain resulting from poor fiscal management. With the prepayment discount, the class of shareholders who can afford to prepay the assessment reap the advantages while the class of shareholders who can't afford to prepay are penalized.

This scenario is akin to a firefighter trying to put out a blaze before the hose is connected to the hydrant. If the fire truck doesn't carry some emergency water, nothing's going to initially come out of the nozzle. If the co-op doesn't have any reserve funds, they'll be forced to borrow money to cover their emergency, either from the LoC or from shareholder largess. Either way, they'll be paying more than they have to.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Sure, but lecturing folks when they are in the midst of an emergency repair situation is not helpful. Clearly OP hasn't given the full extent of the situation but, if it is the case that a coop need an LOC draw in order to make a repair, then it is what it is. No one is short 2% since you only borrow the money that is needed (essentially the shareholders that need to loan the money) and that amount is shared amongst those who did not pay in advance. The interest cost is not incurred if the money is borrowed so there is no "2% short" as you describe.
"With the prepayment discount, the class of shareholders who can afford to prepay the assessment reap the advantages while the class of shareholders who can't afford to prepay are penalized." And this is completely fair if ALL shareholders are given the same opportunity to prepay at a discount or borrow over time. Folks who pay upfront lose their foregone interest earnings on the money. If I know I have to pay a 12,000 assessment over a year and can earn >2% monthly after tax, I would not pay upfront, even if I had the money. You wouldn't make this argument against increases in maintenance payments if a set of shareholders could afford it and another set could not.

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Let's say there is an emergency assessment and the Board uses a line of credit and pays 2% of the loan in interest monthly which determines the assessment per share. If a shareholder were to pay in advance, why should they pay the interest? Every other shareholder is taking out a loan via the Board while some shareholders can choose to not take the loan out and thus be discounted the cost of interest on the assessment. Charging them the same assessment would advantage all the other shareholders over the one who paid early by lowering their interest costs at the earlier payer expense.

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Star, Co- op Abatement and other Exemptions - NYC May 23, 2018

Can I look up my star, veterans and co- op abatement credits separately? My co-op clumps them together.

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You should be able to view them separately. The Dept of Finance breaks them out separately when notifying your management company.

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Do property managers have a direct contacts with the D.O.F. if they have inquiries on exemption benefits for a few units or are they required to fill out the online form and wait months to receive a response?

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I have found Sheela Feinberg at the DOF to be responsive when I contacted her directly about my co-op's situation. You didn't have to wait months for an answer.

Her email is feinbergsa@finance.nyc.gov

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Thanks Marty

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Must Proxies Be Mailed to Shareholders? - H. May 21, 2018

Must the mailed Annual Meeting notice include a blank proxy, or can shareholders be advised that they can be obtained upon request?

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No, a proxy is not required to be inclined with the notice of annual meeting unless otherwise specified in your by-laws or house rules.

Keep in mind a proxy is not used to vote. It allows a shareholder to appoint someone else to vote on their behalf.

After signing in at the meeting, a ballot ( for voting) is given to shareholders. One ballot per unit and if another shareholder(s) gave you their proxy, you will receive one additional ballot for each proxy. I think you will find the below link helpful.

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2016/bsc/article-6/

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Our board has not sent out notices in regards to our annual meeting which usually is in May/June. Last year they cancelled it from June until October due to a problem in accounting. Our financials aren't ready yet and I feel they are pushing the annual until October again. It appears our board is running our cooperative in the ground due to lack of knowledge.What can we do in regards to putting us back on track? Doesn't the board have to have a vote from the shareholders about changing the month?

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If a proxy is not included with your annual meeting notice and a shareholder wants to appoint someone to vote on their behalf, they can make up their own proxy by merely writing following on a piece of paper:

The name of the person who you are giving authority to to vote on their behalf IE: John Doe
The unit number/Apt Number
Print name of person giving their proxy: IE: Mary Jones
Signature of person giving their proxy IE” Mary Jones
Very important the DATE

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the management company would mail out the proxies and include a memo that informed the shareholders that lived in the building that board member "x" would pick them. After board member moved, the managing company would mail the proxies out and told the shareholders that lived in the building to give them to the super to either mail them back in or give them to the super.
The week before the meeting they would post the same memo in the elevator and common areas the week before the meeting.

I had a problem with this since i knew that i as a shareholder could knock on doors or ask shareholders to give me their proxies. i notified the board members that lived in the building that this memo was incorrect , that the proxies could be given to any shareholder , and this was skewing the voting.
The managing company refused to give me contact info on the board members that didn't reside in the building.
The first 15 years the memo went out it was correct, it stated that if you were unable to attend you could give it to another shareholder who was attending the meeting or mail it back to the managing company.
The people who were running for election/reelection were also listed with boxes for the number of shares you wanted to vote.However the board member picking them up would tell the people to leave it all blank and just sign over the proxy to them.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

By not allowing a shareholder who will not be attending the meeting to appoint whoever they choose to be their proxy violates Section 609(a) of the Business Corporation Law of the State of N,Y, which permits a stockholder to authorize any person or persons to act for them as proxy.

Even if your house rules and by-laws say different, the BCL supersedes. You should read your by-laws to see what is required for shareholders to call a special meeting for the express purpose of proper proxy procedures as well the procedure for the removal of director(s) with/without cause.


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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

This link Will address your rights to names of directors.

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2017/bsc/article-7/718/

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The problem i have run into is there is no enforcement of the BCL .
I contacted my attorney generals office concerning mortgage fraud and they replied back that they do not do that. Referred me to the NYS AG office who had already proved unwilling to get involved in enforcing BCL and other cooperative problems. The mortgage fraud involved the cooperative informing buyers that the building was 90% owner occupied , when in fact it was lower than 50%.

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Laws regarding emergency access to buildings in NYC - ljr May 21, 2018

We are in a small coop (10 units) built in 1921. We have an outer lobby door and an inner lobby door. Our apartment buzzers are in the outer lobby, not on the front of the building. You have to enter through the outer lobby door to get to the apartment buzzers. The building has a rule that the outer lobby door must be locked after 9 PM--to keep out intruders who might decide to sleep in the outer lobby. This has happened a few times--once recently, unfortunately, when that door was left open. The problem is that emergency workers then do not have access to the building in an emergency. This has also happened, when we once called an ambulance late at night and forgot that they had no way to buzz our buzzer. They wound up rousing our neighbor, who let them in--we were too busy tending to the sick person to be watching the door. I was told that not having emergency access to a building via doorbell or buzzer is against the law in NYC--so I am trying to locate that law in order to force the rest of the board--I am Secretary-- to seriously consider going through the expense and trouble of installing a new system. (We are landmarked, so that is admittedly a hassle, but some similar buildings have done so--it's definitely possible.) Some of us are more worried about intruders in the outer lobby than about ambulances and fire trucks. They just ignore the concern. Does anyone have any advice on this?

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what is too low a credit score for purchase? - pk May 15, 2018

I'm the new Treasurer for a NJ coop and am reviewing admissions applications.

Our by-laws only allow us to deny a purchase based on poor financials. Do any coops out there have a minimum credit score they try to stay away from?

What do you consider when looking at the credit report?

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I'm looking to approve someone who can pay their monthly bills if I approve their application.

I'm not making their credit score the only thing I look at. For me, I'm looking at how much they owe now and how much debt they have to pay each month.

The credit report breaks down these debts into 2 types: 1) regular credit card debt and 2) other debt like student loans, car loans, and mortgages.

I then weigh their income against their monthly debt, also considering food and other usual monthly living expenses.

Then I decide if they can meet their expenses based on their income.

A credit score can be impacted by an event that happened long ago. If the applicant is on the straight and narrow as of now and keeping their debt manageable, then that's what I'm emphasizing today.

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I totally agree with Marty about not isolating a credit score and make it the sole determining factor. There are many factors which affect a credit score, many of which are not relevant to a purchaser's ability to pay their mortgage and maintenance.

Our financial evaluation process is similar to Marty's. We look at two components - sufficient income to meet monthly non-discretionary obligations (mortgage, maintenance, automobile, student loans, minimum credit card repayments, etc), and sufficient *liquid* assets to be able to meet obligations for 3-6 months in case they lose their income.

By liquid assets I mean bank and investment accounts (and similar). We will include retirement accounts because they can be tapped in an emergency. What we give very little weight to are owned real estate, tangible property, items with collector value, etc, because these many not be easily converted to cash.

If income is provided from a trust we may ask for a copy and have our lawyer review it to make sure the terms allow for sufficient monthly disbursements.

If a purchaser is on the borderline, it's not unusual to ask for 12 - 24 months of maintenance payments be put in escrow for a couple of years, or to ask for a guarantor of the maintenance payments. Your attorney can help you set these up.

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Building Staff Utilities FYI - YonkersCOOP May 08, 2018

Our in-house finance committee, made up of shareholders who review the management reports on a quarterly basis, discovered that the corporation has been paying the ‘Verizon FiOs’ package for the building super, including cable, phone and internet. The super has a cell phone which is used for work purposes, so the landline with the package would be for the super’’s personal use.

Just wanted to throw it out there - is this expense considered optional or required for the resident super? The Board is generally ticked off that this cost may have been passed on erroneously to the coop for quite some time. Please share your thoughts... Thanks!

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

My building had a very similar but more complex situation with our live-in super and telephone lines. What we ultimately discovered was that when Verizon converted all our copper "POTS" phone lines to fiber, they unilaterally upgraded a phone line to FiOS Triple Play they were not authorized to upgrade.

A phone line the super uses in his office and for which the building receives and pays the monthly invoices, was listed as a residential phone line in the super's name. It should have been listed as a business line in the building's name. The super has his own FiOS Triple Play service he pays for directly.

When our lines were updated from copper POTS to Fiber, the super contracted privately to upgrade to FiOS Triple Play (about $220/month). Verizon, in their blessed incompetency, also upgraded the office phone line that was in our super's name, to FiOS Triple Play at about the same $220/month.

It took us about six months, until February of this year, to discover the problem. I'm still fighting with Verizon for a refund, so lotsa luck!

Bottom line. If you have a live-in super, he should be paying for his digital services unless there is a clear understanding with the building that the building will pay the bill. If he uses the phone service bundled with the Triple Play for an office phone or other business purpose, he should be reimbursed accordingly.

Before you have "the talk" with the super or take any action, you must determine when and who authorized the upgrade to the expensive digital services. You need to go back to the beginning when the expensive services were first ordered, and try to find out who authorized the upgrade. Hopefully, your managing agent archived the actual invoices or has copies of them so you can determine when this started. If you have an approximate date, see if Verizon can supply you with paper copies of the invoices around that date.

What you find out about who authorized the changes will determine how you handle the situation. If it was the super and he upgraded without permission, he bears responsibility. If Verizon did the upgrade without anyone approving the change, it becomes the building's responsibility.

The length of time the expensive services were in place will also color your interaction with your super, if you determine he is responsible. Co-ops have a responsibility to review their expenses on a monthly or quarterly basis. The overcharge should have been flagged within three months. If it's been going on for longer, you either need to eat some of the excess or work out a payment plan with your super.

Even if he authorized the upgrade, it may have been an innocent mistake. Plans like Triple Play are notoriously complex (probably to achieve exactly what happened here), and your super may have thought he was being economical because of all the "savings" he was told there would be. Verizon, Spectrum, AT&T are very predatory, and you need to give your super the benefit of the doubt until determined otherwise.

I hope I've given you some food for thought. Please don't jump to any conclusions, but establish as best you can what happened, and then decide if you need to do anything vis-a-vis your super. If you value your super and have a good working relationship with him, simply pointing out what you discovered but not asking for any reimbursement, or just for reasonable reimbursement, will create a huge amount of priceless good will. At least that's how it works in our building.

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NYC Co-op tax abatement and Star Credit - EES May 08, 2018

Curious to see if other buildings have not received their credits from Star and NYC Co-op tax abatement?
Our managing agent explains that ..."The abatement numbers have not been finalized by the city despite for 16/17 or 17/18...." I have tried emailing the DOF, NY taxation and 311. According to 311 our building did receive credits for Star and according to NYC Finance "letters" were mailed to the managing agent.
It is hard to get a straight answer, so looking here for a simpler explanation.

> Join the conversation Comments (3)

In my experience, your managing agent (MA) should have received the abatement/STAR info within the first 4-6 weeks of the new year, or by mid February. This correlates to what the DOF and 311 have told you.

Anything is possible with the DOF, but it sounds like your MA may have messed up. I'd suggest having your MA contact the DOF once again to make sure there wasn't some error.

Sheelah Feinberg within the DOF has been helpful in these matters. Her email address is FeinbergSA@finance.nyc.gov

Your shareholders need to have this cleared up ASAP or else you're going to bear the brunt of their anger.

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I requested a copy of my benefits page from the D.O.F., when I received it I noticed that the amount I received was different than what my co-op was giving me. I questioned this with my M.A. who took no responsibility and said this is the information he received and that was that.
Even though this affected other cooperatives, I had to take the matter into my own hands and contact the D.O.F. via. email @ http://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/about/contact-by-email/contact-coop-and-condo-abatement-inquiries.page

It took about 3 months to get a response, but was informed that they were sending updated lists to the M.A.( I do not believe this was for Star and Enhanced Star but for some Sche and Scrie and the benefits would be retroactive for 2017/2018. D.O.F. said it would take up to 15 days for the M.A. to receive the new list. It has ben 3 weeks and according to my M.A. no list has been received and once again it is my responsibility to follow up. Good Luck!

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I have received my forms for most every building I manage (excepting 1).
New process this year is that everything was done online.
When the Managing Agent initially filed, he/she should have gotten an online receipt for the filing... I would ask to see it if you're skeptical.

~AR

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We filed the change form in January but when we got a revised statement in April, it did not contain one change. I contacted DOF by email and they replied, saying the change was made, gave me the amount allocated to the apartment in question, and said it would be in a revised statement we would get in early June. By the way, for new shareholders in the past few years, they apply for and get the STAR directly from the State and it is not included in the DOF statement.

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