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Lawyer - Cecile Jun 22, 2018

Do you know of any lawyer who works extensively with small (5-20 units) self-managed coops. Also, someone who works in the downtown environment who will have connections that could be helpful, but most important is someone who deals with small coops that are self-managed. Thank you.

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I have someone. Let me know how to get in touch with you

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No gas for an entire year! - EL Jun 20, 2018

I live in a coop in Brooklyn, NY. We've had no gas for an entire year. The Board claims National Grid shut our gas down due a reported gas leak by a resident. I can understand this taking a couple of months to repair due to the size of the building but an entire year? This is outrageous!! A litany of calls to 311 and similar NYC agencies has yielded no results. Anyone have any suggestions on how to force management to speed the repair process? And by the way, they've increased our maintenance fees twice since this saga began. Many shareholders believe its part of an intricate scam designed to build cash reserves and legitimize - on paper anyway - the property as a profitable acquisition for real estate investors. Appreciate any feedback and sorry for lengthy post.

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Sorry to hear about your situation. I know gas leaks can take a very long time to locate and repair to the satisfaction of the Dept of Buildings, but a full year sounds very excessive.

There are a few solutions I can think of.

The first and most expedient but most expensive would be for all aggrieved shareholders to join together and consult with an attorney. Simply being contacted by an attorney representing shareholders might be enough to jolt the board into action. A "lawyer letter" might be all that's needed.

After that, consider putting up a slate of shareholders to replace the board at the next annual meeting. If that is too far in the future, consult your co-op's bylaws to see how to remove board members. Again, just the potential for such an action might shock them into action.

If the board's actions are for the reasons you believe, you will be faced with increased board hostility and probably retaliation. In my opinion, working with a lawyer is your safest option, because your attorney will protect all your interests.

Remember also that the board cannot unilaterally dissolve the co-op corporation by selling to a real estate speculator. Doing something like that would require a supermajority of shareholders voting in favor. The exact requirements should be in your proprietary lease. Even if they could sell the building to an investor, all proceeds from the sale would have to be distributed to all shareholders based on the number of shares each owns.

Boards have been known to attempt very underhanded tactics. You know best what vibes are being given off by the board when it comes to fixing the gas leak and increasing maintenance. Even if you're only able to get 10-15 shareholders together, the cost per shareholder for consulting an attorney would be minimal, and the value of the consultation, priceless. :-)

Best of luck to you.

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I can't understand why your board would subject themselves to no gas for a year, unless they all have electric stoves. Your board is also included in increased maintenance. Why are you the only concerned share holder?
Please contact: James Ratliff 438 4th St. Park Slope 718-768-0025 you can consult him for free. He is the best.
I would call National Grid and find out the truth about the shut down. Also rally your fellow share holders, you can have your co op remove your board. Sounds like somethings going on with your finances. Let us know what James has to say. Best of Luck

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Supers Who Perfowm Free Lance Work - H. Jun 15, 2018

Sometimes Supers work independently to perform paid work that normally require a license,
e.g., plumbing or electrical. If there is a problem with the work, and the Super is unlicensed, are there liability issues?

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Assuming you live in a co-op or condo and not in a rental, in my opinion, there is definitely a problem if the work is performed within whats called the "envelope" of your apartment - the four boundary walls, floor, and ceiling, and any plumbing or wiring done for your unit's benefit directly outside of the envelope. If you own the unit, the work by the unlicensed super is being done at your discretion, and that could cause problems for you with the Dept of Buildings.

If the work is done to a system owned by the co-op corporation or condominium association, like common electrical feeder lines and/or plumbing, I would think there is a problem if the person doing the work is not licensed, but I'm not 100% sure.

If you live in a rental or want more information, try starting at the Dept of Buildings website. Other contributors on here may also have more definitive information.

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Liability issues. Favoritism issues. Distractions from the actual job and daily maintenance issues. Don't allow it. Period.

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Petition for Special Meeting - Board Prez Jun 15, 2018

When shareholder submit a petition for a special meeting, are there any rules about when the Board and Management need to schedule the special meeting? (Aside from the 10 - 40 days pre-notification to shareholders required for any meeting). Can the board schedule the meeting for more than a month after receiving the petition?

Thank you

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You have to refer to your bylaws for specific procedures. My bylaws require 20 percent of shareholders for petition, a date time and place and purpose of the meeting set by the shareholders not the board or management company. No other business shall be discussed except as stated in the notice that accompanies the petition.

Check out this podcast

https://www.habitatmag.com/Podcasts/When-People-Use-Their-Power

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Monthly Maintenance Statement breakdown - NYC Jun 13, 2018

Is it required by the D.O.F. that monthly maintenance statements outline each unit’s tax savings for personal exemptions and the co-op property tax abatement.

Our co-op lumps them together and refuses to list them separately.

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I don't know if it's required by the DOF, but my co-op breaks it down on the maintenance statement.

I've never heard of it NOT being broken down individually.

The DOF does break it down separately when they send the list to your management group. There's no reason why it shouldn't be broken down on your maintenance statement.

I'd recommend trying to get as many shareholders to sign one letter that insists on a maintenance statement breakdown, and then send a copy to your Board and your management company.

Good luck.

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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thanks, sounds like a plan!

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I agree with Marty's response. You might be able to go on the Dept of Finance's website for more information, or to find out who to contact for more information.

In my building, we issue the abatements during a single month along with a corresponding assessment to recover the funds we won't receive due to the abatements. Each abatement (Real Estate, STAR, Veteran, etc) is individually noted on the invoice as a credit against that month's maintenance, and the amount of the assessment is noted as a debit against the maintenance.

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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
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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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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

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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> Join the conversation Comments (1)

Thanks Marty

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