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Time Is Running Out for Co-ops and Condos to Comply with Local Law 97

New York City

Local Law 97, building carbon emissions, fines, loans, grants, co-op and condo boards.
July 31, 2023

Jessica Tusing, the director of compliance at Argo Real Estate, a Manhattan-based property management firm that oversees about 120 residential buildings across the city, tells amNY that the longer co-op and condo boards wait to comply with Local Law 97, the worse the financial repercussions will get.

“Let’s just say in 2024, you fix your boiler in October," Tusing says. "If you leave it until then you are already getting penalties that won’t go away until 2025. Many co-op boards think they can do these energy projects last minute. That’s not how it works.”

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, buildings larger than 25,000 square feet, including co-ops and condominiums, will have to bring their buildings' carbon emissions under prescribed caps, or pay stiff fines. The caps become more stringent in 2030 and in subsequent years. The good news is that about 80% of residential buildings are already in compliance with 2024 targets. However, that number will plunge to 15% by 2030 as the stricter standards kick in.

Tusing says that six of the buildings Argo oversees are not in compliance with 2024 requirements, and work is under way to bring them in compliance and avoid fines. She is among many professionals currently advising co-op and condo boards that are not in compliance with the stricter 2030 requirements to start doing the work now.

Thomas Ostrowski, co-op board president at a building on East 4th Street in Manhattan, agrees with Tusing. "The trick for almost every building, rich or poor, is to get beyond the 2024 cap, and then start looking at how you tailor you protects toward 2030 and then 2034 and then toward total electrification,” Ostrowski says. “I think it is important to remember that they are giving us a pretty long time. They’re giving us like a generation.” He advises boards not to “freak out” but to “think about what you have to do in interim steps.”

Many co-op and condo boards strapped for cash are being advised to take out loans and apply for grants to pay for necessary retrofits. The city has established a free program, NYC Accelerator, dedicated to helping property owners find grants and loans to fund the upgrades. The loans, officials say, would provide building owners with the ability to spread the cost of the work over an extended period, with the energy savings from the upgrades helping offset the cost of the debt.

Everyone agrees that this is not the time for co-op and condo boards to sit around and pray that manna will fall from the heavens. A lawsuit has been filed to block Local Law 97, and a bill before the city council seeks to push back enforcement by seven years — measures with an uncertain fate, at best. The bottom line: boards need to get busy now. 

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