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Construction and food smells coming through 'solid' wall - Coop board member 1 Feb 03, 2019

I'm a member of a co-op board in a 1960s building.

We have a resident (A) who is complaining about cooking smells and construction smells coming from a neighboring apartment (Z). The apartments share a wall that should be solid -- there are no vents between these two apartments.
The problem was brought to our attention almost a year ago when Apt A complained about strong cooking smells, but apt Z was about to do a renovation, and we thought that would address it. Instead, the smells have been ongoing and Apt A can smell the pipe soldering, plastering and painting and has photos showing plaster dust from the renovation piling up on her floor and on the plugs of lamps and appliances plugged into their party wall. There is a definite breeze coming through the baseboards/electrical outlets -- it's enough to blow a smoke test around.

Apt A says this is a violation of the warranty of habitability and the proprietary lease. Is the co-op responsible to address this, and if so, how do we fix it? The wall seems solid, except for the breeze/dust/smells, and Apt A even has a second layer of sheetrock on their side due to an earlier renovation.



> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Sounds like apt A is correct. The co-op needs to do something. It's possible that Z's renovation was a sub-standard job since A can now smell other things that they did not smell prior to the renovation. The plaster dust piling up on A's floor is a health hazard at a minimum and needs to be addressed immediately.

I recommend that the co-op hire someone to check the integrity of that shared wall. If it needs to be repaired, then do it ASAP. and let the co-op pay for it.

It's possible that the co-op can try to collect the repair money from Z's contractor, but the co-op will need to show that it was a shoddy renovation that caused the extra smells and the piling of dust. Good luck.

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Unless there is an issue with the structural aspect of the wall prior to the renovation (which it does not seem to be the case), the coop is not responsible. Wall finishes are the responsibility of the Shareholders as per most any Proprietary Lease.
Some older buildings were frame built with wall cavities that do permit odors, sounds, etc to breath through.. not the most desirable construct, but perfectly legal and to code.

Some solutions in a couple similar buildings and situations we have had was to insulate the cavities with sound bat which does cut down the odors also. The walls should be fully insulated and sealed around all penetrations, switches and receptacles, etc. Additionally, insulation around the apartment door will cut down on the ambient odors in the halls.

Its important to realize also, that while some foods and cooking smells are offensive... everyone tolerance levels are different and there is no way to gauge the true levels of odor tolerances to each person who may complain.

Good Luck
~AR

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What do Board Members Need to Know - Unosay Jan 31, 2019

How can you run a cooperative if you are not privy to: contracts of vendors, parking lists, age and condition of roofs,elevators, plumbing, and electrical systems? How many sublets in house and when to stop to prevent too many? Employees live and own apartments on site but won't start working until 8:00 AM; because they're union. The siper and asst. super rent out apts they own to live rent free. Our attorney has not directed board members on proper orientation of does and don't to be effective. So who is getting the better deal?

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Are you asking as a Board member or asking as a nonBoard shareholder? Board Directors are entitled to whatever infornation they need and their attorney can’t limit the scope.

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> Join the conversation Comments (2)

H's comment makes sense. I'm trying to make sense of the original rant and I can't. Sounds like the OP is a non-Board member who has no idea of what being on the Board is all about. If he is a Board member, then he needs to be educated ASAP.

"Employees live and own apartments on site but won't start working until 8:00 AM." If their start time is 8AM, why would you expect them to begin work prior to that time?

"How many sublets in house and when to stop to prevent too many?" What do the by laws allow?

"The super and asst. super rent out apts. they own to live rent free." If they own apartments, do the by laws allow them to rent them out? If so, then it sounds like they're not doing anything wrong.

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You asked if it was for a board member or non board member? It is for both as it appears the board doesn't fully understand their rights as a board member. It appears that a handbook needs to be introduced to educate board members what they are privy to and what not to do. Sharing confidential information with other shareholders about a pending lawsuit by a shareholder at a annual meeting is not correct . What is mandatory for board members to know is needed especially new members and why attorney doesn't help educate them instead of allowing them to do whatever they please???

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Spectrum Bulk Billing / Fios Installation - jdny Jan 30, 2019

Perhaps it's a coincidence but Spectrum has just offered our co-op a bulk rate just has Verizon has notified our building that it's (finally) willing to install Fios. Currently, a majority of residents use Spectrum (internet and TV) and pay $100-$200+ per month. The bulk rate would be $50/month (for a service as good or better than what most people have now) that's even factoring covering the few people who don't use Spectrum.

The catch? Spectrum is requiring a 5 year contract to get the bulk rate.

Just wondering if we sign a long term deal with Spectrum, could Verizon find out and cancel Fios installation plans?

Does anyone have a rough idea how long it takes from the time a building gives Verizon the OK to install fiber to the time Fios service is actually working? If it's 1/2 a year or more, it might be more justifiable to sign with Spectrum now for the time being - who knows, maybe there will be a problem or delays with Fios installation.

Does Verizon ever offer a bulk rate as well and/or buy out a contract with a competing provider?

Any advice?

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

my building has had a bulk rate for years, long before i lived there. we had fios installed and it was up to owners to negotiate with them to buy them out. because rate is so good, no one has opted to do so.

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Should a Lot Line Window be operational? - Lot LIne Window Jan 22, 2019

A reader has asked if he should be able to open his lot line window and if the co-op is responsible for making his window operational if it is not.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Windows can differ.. some LL windows are operational and some are fixed.
Check your Proprietary Lease and see who is responsible for window repairs and that party is responsible to remedy any defects.
~AR

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Improvements and Flip Tax - marym Jan 14, 2019

In calculating flip tax, do co-ops allow shareholders to first deduct any improvements they made to their apartment?

> Join the conversation Comments (4)

Yes you can deduct your home improvements when you sell your apt. and house. Also $250,000 per you and $250,000 for your spouse. Your question is just in time to do your 2018 taxes. Please bring your questions up with your accountant who will best advise you in this matter. Best of Luck.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thanks for your answer but I believe you misunderstood my question or I didn't phrase it properly. I'm not asking about one's personal taxes; rather, if co-op boards allow a shareholder to deduct improvements made to her/his apartment before calculating the flip tax. Thanks.

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If a down payment was not required to purchase a Co-op in the past and now the board requires a 20% down, can they implement this without shareholders approval?

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Your proprietary lease should address this. If it does not, the Board may change the requirement without a shareholder vote.

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A flip tax does not deduct any improvements. It is only concerned with the final sale price of the apartment (or whatever structure it may follow), unless expressed otherwise.

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deduction is a slippery slope. was discussed as an option and you can't do it that way - how would you allow for depreciation on improvements? total sale price is the only way to do it.

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It is up to the Proprietary Lease to determine the requisites and details of the transfer fee. Some are based on flat percentages, some not, some on profit, some on other factors... it is best to ask you Manager to decipher your particular flip tax for you.

~AR

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theft in apartment - Sue Jan 04, 2019

Plumbers and contractors have been working in every Unit making repairs and updating system. Shareholders have been notified when workers need entry into apartments and if residents cannot be present during work the
Super has entered with permission using management keys. The Super and managing agent have been present when workers are in the apartments.

Board was recently told an expensive heirloom is missing. Board instructed shareholder to make a police report, call their home owners insurance and submit in writing to management details of incident.

Can anyone tell me what the standard protocol is and who would be liable?

Thank you.

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

The homeowners insurance company should cover instances of theft. Homeowner should file a police report. The insurance company will take it from there.

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Building wide internet? - Richo Dec 15, 2018

Has anyone set up a building wide network for their building?

We are wired for spectrum, but I can't figure out if they would allow 8 units to share a business class account.

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I was thinking the exact same thing for my 4 unit building. We have spectrum but was thinking it might be best to get FIOS. The big advantage is with FIOS you get upload AND download speeds that are very fast. Uploads speed is important if you do any online backups or sharing and don't want a backup to take 2 weeks. Normally each subscriber has to find a place to put those big boxes that convert the fiber to copper. Instead of having 4 of those bulky things - 1 in each apt, we could have one and put it in the basement. We would ensure privacy by getting a static ip address for each unit and a separate router for each unit. You may as well get the TV and phone package and get ALL the premium channels cause we would split the cost 4 ways. Could provide building wide WiFi as well and integrate with cameras and such. I was thinking of just calling the business office and get an account under the HOA name. Only problem is two of the unit owners will flat out go against any idea I contribute, no matter how much benefit or savings it would provide them.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Spectrum will do bulk packages @ 50$ish per participating shareholder.

But there are so many advantages to a single building wide network that I still would favor it.

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Convince me not to install off-brand video intercom - Richo Dec 15, 2018

My 8 unit HDFC just got a quote for 11k to install a comelit video intercom w/ smartphone integration.

I am confident in my ability to install an off brand video intercom system for under 2k. However future hardware and software support is not as certain with an established (& expensive) brand.

Our maintenance is very low (40 cents a sqft) & that 9k can be put to much better use. However 2 of 8 shareholders are not team players & will absolutely make my life miserable any time in the next 20 years when there is a problem, and likely a few times when there isn't a problem.

I believe it's the right thing to do for the building, however my 2 terrible neighbors make me confident it would be bad for me personally. Please convince me not to spend the time & invite the trouble.

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

Hi Richo….just remember you get EXACTLY what you pay for! Going with an off-brand may/probably cost you in the long run. What happens if a component fails? Where do you get the parts? Overseas? How long can you do without the intercom? Who will install the aftermarket parts once they come in?

Careful my friend! Sorry I couldn't agree with you!

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

understand that you want to save money but why would you want the liability. the naysayers are correct. this is the time to spend money.
note: have you gotten three bids on this?

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What Brand is it?
Did you end up doing it?

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

No I did not. Still have the same old intercom.

There are a ton of inexpensive options on the internet though. I believe NYC code is you need a physical button to unlock. A lot of these video systems are two wire, so if you have an existing 4 wire you can keep your physical button & steal two wire for audio/video/unlock.

Ongoing support is always gonna be the problem with these kits, although at 1/10th the cost, you can afford to upgrade once 3D projection intercoms replace video.

https://smile.amazon.com/Jeatone-Intercom-Multi-unit-Apartment-Monitoring/dp/B0746CVVY3/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=intercom+multiunit&qid=1552962165&s=gateway&sr=8-2

https://smile.amazon.com/Apartment-Intercom-Visitor-Doorbell-Security/dp/B008B05C5O/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=intercom+multiunit&qid=1552962271&s=gateway&sr=8-5

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I recommend you reach out to the rep in your area to discuss any concerns and get clarification. You can reach David Lee at 888-692-9739 xt 203 or at david@comelitusa.com.

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Vent shaft - MG Dec 12, 2018

I own a co-op unit in a 1960s building. During a recent renovation my neighbor upstairs removed the kitchen in his unit which is above me ( he combined two apartments) and now my kitchen vent duct opens directly into his living room. After the renovation, I now hear everything he says as clearly as if he was standing in my apartment. The super has looked at the vent shaft with a flashlight, and says the vent shaft is "completely open" and straight." There are no turns to in it. He says there's a turn in the kitchen shaft of his own unit in the building. So it appears that my unit is directly linked to the above unit via the shaft.

Is this legal? Is this a code violation in New York City?

> Join the conversation Comments (2)

I don't know about the legality of it, but the first thing I would do is find out if he can he hear every word that YOU say while he's in his apartment.

If he can, then I think a good argument can be made that your right to privacy is being violated solely by actions that your neighbor took - not you.

If he doesn't care that you hear everything he says, then that's fine. But, if he can hear everything you say and you don't want that, then he caused the problem and must fix it.

I would notify the Board if you have not already done so. The co-op's attorney may need to be consulted about this matter, too.

Good luck.

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Agree with Marty. The situation you are describing, having raw cooking fumes venting into a habitable space, is an unsafe condition and almost assuredly a violation of Dept of Building regulations and code. You don't have liability in this situation, but your board needs to get involved. They need to review the alteration agreement to see if this venting was called out in the plans and part of the alteration approval. If it was, it does not absolve your upstairs neighbor from responsibility for complying with code, but it will probably cause your board to be more involved in this issue.

It it wasn't part of the plan, and the contractor just built it this way because it was convenient, then your neighbor and his contractor have a big additional renovation ahead. The configuration you described cannot remain because of the health and safety issues. Fumes from a kitchen can contain Carbon Monoxide, which is deadly.

Bottom line, IMHO, is that you are ok (just don't agree to anything, like "are you ok with the configuration?"), and your upstairs neighbor and their contractor are in deep dodo.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

if two apartments are combined, DOB should have been onsite to check - you should be able to view that on the DOB site. and the plans should have been vetted by the co-op architect. this is a violation and needs to be fixed at the expense of other owner.

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Leaking from Neighbor Above - marym Dec 07, 2018

We are a small co-op and I am the President of the Board. Two years ago a shareholder ("Richard") moved in and since then he has let his water overflow eight times into the apartment below him (owned by "Tom"). Each time the water cascades down the walls of Tom's apartment and at times enters the light fixtures. Tom was very patient particularly because he liked Richard and they became friends. After about the 5th flooding, Tom asked that the matter be brought up at a Board meeting. He specifically said he didn't want anything done but wanted it on the record, which is what happened. Now Tom is furious after this latest episode and has asked the Board to advise him on what steps he needs to take to get his apartment tested for mold. What is the Board's responsibility here? Do we leave it for them to work out?

> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Has your managing agent and super inspected to make sure his over flow is open for water to drain out?If not he needs one. I would contact my insurance company and explain the problem they will bill the upstairs neighbors insurance company for all work that is needed. Example mold removal, plastering and painting. In the mean time the neighbor above needs to be aware of this problem and also have him contact his insurance company. You as a board member and president you need a managing agent (a good one) who can advise you on problems that is going on in your co-op. Let us know the results. Best of Luck and Happy Holidays.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

I had a water leak from my upstairs neighbor, who left his toilet overflowing due to dementia related problems. I contacted my insurance company who brought in equipment to dry out the
apartment, remove damaged wallpaper from bathroom, and replaster and paint,
. The insurance company paid for our hotel while the work was done, and the cost of damaged items and restaurant meals. Of course, we notified the Management company. They sent a building insurance agent to inspect.
The upstairs neighbor was a renter, unlike us. I don’t know what his liability was. He soon afterwards moved to a nursing home.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thank you peoples choice #1 and H for your responses. We are a self-managed building. The Board had a meeting with the upstairs neighbor last night who is very contrite and accepts responsibility for any costs incurred by the downstairs neighbor. Both have insurance. The upstairs neighbor agreed to buy Flood Water and Overflow Alarms (and did so immediately after the meeting). We also encouraged him to turn his phone off before turning on any water, which he agreed to do. This we believe is a distraction. He is on medication and that may be affecting his behavior. We told the downstairs neighbor that we will be having a mold inspection of the entire building early in 2019. It's necessary because of this flooding and it is also now required by the City.

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