New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



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 11, 2014 — Talk about trust gone awry. There’s a large co-op on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that woke up to a huge problem. Seems their full-time super, under the instruction of their property management company, was working at several other properties — but on their dime and time! The board is furious and ready to ... well, ready to what? Listen as attorneys Steven Sladkus, a partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and Stewart Wurtzel, partner at Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, offer strategic next steps. Music is Cheatin’ feat. Soulmack, by Tommy Tornado.


March 25, 2014 - You’ve got a lot of decisions to make as a board director, and any one of them could be your downfall. Out in Queens, a condo board president is trying to figure out his next step. He’s juggling years of leaks, an engineering report calling for half a million dollars’ worth of work, a reserve fund that is almost empty, a small group of thirty unit-owners to foot the bill, and a whole lot of dissension. Listen as Ron Gold, partner at Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold, and Michael Manzi, partner at Balber Pickard Maldonado & Van Der Tuin, offer advice.

April 8, 2014 - There is a group of shareholders out in Queens that is fed up with its board. In fact, it is trying to organize a coup. But because the shareholders are basically law-abiding citizens, they’re not taking to the hallways - they’re calling their co-op’s attorney. They want to find out what they should do to get elected at the upcoming annual meeting. Listen as Theresa Racht, partner at Racht & Taffae, and Dale Degenshein, special counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, give them some unexpected advice.

April 22, 2014 - In the beginning, the corporation that we know as a co-op or condo was created by a sponsor. And the sponsor said, let there be community life. He saw all that he made, he saw that it was very good, and he decided - well, he decided that maybe he would stick around. At least he did at Rhona Magilowitz’s co-op in Forest Hills, Queens. Listen as Eric Goidel, partner at Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, and Lewis Montana, partner at Levine & Montana, offer some advice on how to work the situation. Music by Les Petits Chanteurs de Montigny, Creative Commons license.

May 6, 2014 — This is a saga of too few parking spaces, a co-op board vote to raise the monthly garage fees, a president who ignored the vote and a board member who resigned over the whole affair. Listen as Stuart Saft, partner at Holland & Knight, and Scott Greenspun, partner at Braverman Greenspun, discuss where is the right, and where is the wrong. (Featuring the song “Parking Lots And Strip Malls,” by David Rovics, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.)

In Brooklyn, there is a 16-unit condominium with an access problem: The cable box for the entire building is in the back of the condo, and to get to it you have to go through one of the two ground-floor apartments. Problem is, when there’s cable trouble, there’s no super and no doorman. And the ground-floor owner isn’t always around to open the door for the repairman so he can get to the cable box. Listen as Seth Sahr, partner at  Novitt, Sahr & Snow, and Robert Tierman, partner at Litwin & Tierman, help this board president figure out what to do. Featuring the song “Banging on My Door,” by Waylon Thornton, from the album Paranormal High School licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.

What happens when someone on your board is governing for personal gain? Lots. Sometimes money gets spent when it shouldn't and decisions are made that are wonky. And those who suspect something's up get intimidated. Listen as Ken Jacobs, partner at Smith, Buss and Jacobs, and Stuart Halper, partner at Stuart Halper & Associates, offer advice to a former board director on steps to take when something smells. Featuring the song “Bad Scene” from the album Grit by Podington Bear licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Okay, let’s be honest: some people are born to whine and complain. And sure enough, some of these people end up buying apartments and they morph into complaining neighbors. If you’re a board member on the other side of this complaint litany, you can just go crazy. Don’t do that. Instead, let Habitat’s legal experts calmly, and clearly, tell you what to do. Listen as Matthew Leeds, partner at Ganfer & Shore, and Pierre Debbas of Romer Debbas offer advice to weary board directors dealing with squeaky wheels. Featuring the song “Failure” from the album netBloc Vol. 41: Brought to you by the numerals 4 and 1 by Derek Clegg, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Mark Gauthier’s ten unit co-op is steeped in history. It’s in the Jackson Heights’ historic district, it was built in 1922, and it still uses the original set of bylaws. That’s right. Their bylaws are 92 years old. Seems like it’s time for an update. Listen as David Berkey, partner at Gallet Dreyer and Berkey, and Joel Miller, of the law firm Miller and Miller, lay out the what’s needed and why, and what it might cost. Featuring the song “History Repeats” from the album The Simple Life by Josh Woodward, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 

In every co-op or condo, there is a go-to guy. He’s the super. These men, and yes, they are mostly men, work for your building, are covered by your building’s insurance policy, and are on your building's payroll. They take care of everything in your building. The one thing they are not paid to do, though, is to fix stuff in your apartment. But they do. And for co-ops and condos, that can be a problem. Dean Roberts of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, and Phyllis Weisberg of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, offer advice on what to do. Featuring the song “Lose the Box” from the album Swing Soiree by Ménage Quad, licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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