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Is It Time to Update Your Apartment-Alteration Agreement?

Bill Morris in Board Operations on October 1, 2013

New York City, Tribeca

Oct. 1, 2013

There was no date.

Reno Failure

Because of an oversight, it had been left out of the agreement. Therefore, the renovation could, theoretically and legally, drag on forever. The contractors. The dust. The noise. 

Luckily for the board and everyone else in the building, the new owner was amenable to a settlement and the work is finally nearing completion.

But that Tribeca co-op had gotten the mother of all wake-up calls. In this age of increasingly elaborate, costly and time-consuming apartment renovations — and the many headaches that come with them — it was time to tighten up the building's alteration agreement. Earlier this year, the co-op board, working with its lawyer and managing agent, put together a new 15-page agreement tailored to the shareholders' needs and the quirks of the early 1900s building. 

No Mystery Date

"The critical thing in the new agreement is that it's very clear on the completion date," says the co-op's attorney, Dennis Greenstein, a partner in the firm of Seyfarth Shaw. "Not only is there a specific deadline for completion, but there are conditions for getting an extension, and what the cost will be. We also tightened inspections by the building's architect, and he has to sign off on them." 

As the board of the Tribeca co-op learned the hard way, even if you have an alteration agreement in place, it's important to make sure that you cross all the t's and dot all the i's and leave nothing blank. Otherwise your neighbor's renovation project will share one quality with diamonds: It could last forever.


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