Being on your co-op or condo board carries a lot of responsibility, liability, and, let's face it, headaches.
On Legal Talk, you'll meet New York's leading co-op and condo attorneys, who will offer advice and guidance for some of the peskiest problems facing boards today.
March 20, 2013 — Parapets. Joints. Re-sealing. These are expensive fixes on most buildings, and you might be wondering how to bring down the cost. Hey, here’s an idea. Why not just hire the company who can fix it? On today’s episode of Legal Talk, attorneys Geoffrey Mazel, of Hankin and Mazel, and Elliott Meisel, of Brill and Meisel, join in to help Queens board president Bill Kirrane figure out whether this is a good, or bad, idea.
March 6, 2013 — The buying and selling of New York apartments is one of the hottest topics today. Everyone’s talking about prices, availability, and of course, admissions. In some co-ops and condos, brokers do more than sell apartments - they also serve on the board of directors. And that’s when conflicts can arise. On today’s episode of Legal Talk, attorneys David Berkey of Gallet Dreyer and Berkey and Andrew Brucker of Schecter and Brucker join in to answer Queens board president Steve Miller’s question about how to deal with “two hat broker” problem.
Feb. 20, 2013 — Co-op and condo boards can rely on their management firms for a lot. After all, they’re the pros: they know the laws, the critical deadlines, the principles and practices of good corporate governance. But sometimes – whether through malice, negligence, or just an honest mistake – they screw up, and the consequences of that screw-up can be devastating to a board. The management contract may offer boards some recourse, and in this episide of Legal Talk, attorneys Jim Glatthaar of Bleakley Platt & Schmidt and Dennis Greenstein of Seyfarth Shaw join Habitat Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Carol J. Ott to explore a board’s options for repairing the damage – and maybe even the relationship with its management firm.
Feb 6, 2013 — Ron is trying to sell his co-op unit. His buyer won’t commit unless the deal includes roof rights. Ron doesn’t own the rights – and he’s not sure who does – so where does he even begin? It may sound hopeless, but this sale is far from a lost cause, as you’ll learn in this episode of Habitat’s Legal Talk podcast. Attorneys Steven Troup of Tarter Krinsky & Drogin and Dennis Greenstein of Seyfarth Shaw join Habitat Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Carol J. Ott to explain how to trace the ownership of your building’s roof rights; determine the possible uses the roof can handle; and negotiate a complicated transaction between the seller, the buyer, and the board to bring in a potential windfall for your building by selling these rights.
Jan 23, 2013 — The rules and laws governing roommates and sublets in co-op apartment buildings are an apparently limitless reservoir of confusion, complaints and consternation for boards. If the point of cooperative living is for the community to choose its members carefully, why are there so many loopholes in the approval process when it comes to sublets and roommates? In this episode, Manhattan board member Regina Warren brings our attorney panel a particularly knotty question: her board has the power to approve sublets, but if a subletter brings in a roommate, are they allowed to approve the roommate? To answer that, Habitat Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Carol J. Ott enlists attorneys Bruce Cholst of Rosen Livingston & Cholst and David Byrne of Herrick Feinstein to dig deep into the intricacies of New York’s “Roommate Law.”
Dec. 12, 2012 — You can do pretty much whatever you want within the four walls of your co-op or condo. But when it comes to public spaces, the corporation usually has rules about what's permissible. So when your neighbor flies the American flag from his balcony, and it's huge, it's not too surprising that the community protests. And then the board has to step in. On today's show we go deep into this patriotic issue to figure out what the board can do, and how it can do it, as Habitat Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Carol J. Ott talks with attorneys Lewis Montana of Levine & Montana and Ron Perl of Hill Wallack.
Nov. 28, 2012 — The prospect of updating the bylaws of a co-op or condo can be daunting – simultaneously mundane and overwhelming. In a co-op, bylaws mostly govern internal corporate matters, but in a condo they cover just about everything, from the organization of the condominium association to the powers of the board and the relationship between the residents and their board. So the question posed to our attorney panel this episode is: Where is a board to begin? Is there a template to follow? Well, no, unfortunately. But there are plenty of solid bedrock principles on how to approach this important job. It’s information board members need to know before they take on this crucial task. On the panel this week, Habitat publisher Carol J. Ott talks with Stuart Saft, a partner at Holland & Knight, and Matthew Leeds, a partner at Ganfer & Shore.
Nov. 14, 2012 — Too much subletting in a co-op can cause a whole host of problems, especially when it comes to finances. Buildings with low owner-occupancy rates often find themselves hit with lower property values and higher interest rates on their underlying mortgages. Fortunately, co-ops can write restrictions on subletting into their governing documents. But how do you do it? That’s the dilemma facing our attorney panel on the Habitat podcast. Our question comes from Yonkers shareholder Mike Pidel, who says that illegal subletting is even done by members of the board! What can he do to make them comply? On the panel this week, Habitat Publisher Carol J. Ott talks with Tara Snow, a partner at Novitt Sahr & Snow, and Al Taffae, a partner at Racht & Taffae.
Oct 31, 2012 — Smoking is fast becoming outré in New York’s public spaces, and apartment buildings are getting in on the act as well. Concerned about the health effects of second-hand smoke, co-op and condo boards have begun taking steps to eradicate cigarette smoking from common areas and even private apartments. But this is a new trend and in many ways uncharted territory for boards. What’s the most effective way to put a ban on smoking in your building? That’s the question posed to our attorney panel this week. Can the ban apply to some residents while grandfathering other smokers in? How do you make sure the ban will stand up in court? And, perhaps most importantly, how do you enforce it? The laws on this subject are different for co-ops versus condos, and our attorney panel separates out the various strands of legal thought and opinion to bring you the clear truth. On the panel this week, Habitat Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Carol J. Ott talks with John J. LaGumina of The LaGumina Law Firm and Richard Klein of the Law Offices of Richard Klein.
Oct 17, 2012 — In an ideal co-op, the trustworthy superintendent has a key to every apartment, securely stowed in a lockbox and only to be used in cases of emergency. If that emergency strikes and the resident of the unit isn’t home to give building workers or first responders access to the apartment, the key comes out and the emergency services can proceed in an orderly fashion. But we all know that things are rarely so tidy. Locks get changed and shareholders, intentionally or not, often fail to leave a copy of the key with the building. And when emergency access is needed? Out comes the battering ram.
That’s the situation faced by this episode’s board questioner, Marleen Levi of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. In her co-op, screams were heard emanating from a unit in the middle of the night, and when no one answered the door and the super didn’t have a key, the Fire Department started busting it down. Fixing the front door to an apartment is usually the co-op’s responsibility, but in this case, Levi asks, can the co-op forward the bill to the shareholder who should have given them access in the first place? Our attorney panel answers her question and looks at all the angles when it comes to access: when should the building have it, and who’s responsible when it doesn’t? On the panel this week: Rob Braverman of Braverman & Associates and Ronald Gold of Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold.
Engage, enrage, ask questions and give answers with your community of board members. Submit your questions and comments here!
Thinking of buying a co-op or condo? Already bought, and not sure how co-op/condo life and rules work? Learn all about purchasing a place and living in your new community. It's not like renting, and its not like owning a house. What's it like?