Fees come in many flavors in New York co-ops and condominiums, and some are decidedly more distasteful than others. A shareholder in a Manhattan co-op got a jolt last fall when the managing agent informed her that she needed to remove her air-conditioning units for the winter and then pay a fee to have them reinstalled in the summer. The shareholder has a question for the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times: Is this legal?
“Provided there is a good-faith basis for the requirement, and the fee is not excessive, the building may be within its rights to have such a policy,” says Lisa Smith, a partner in the law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell.
Some apartment buildings require residents to remove their air-conditioner window units for the winter, she adds, and management usually arranges for storage and reinstallation in the summer. The reason is that heat can be lost in wintertime through gaps between the unit and the window frame, as well as through an uncovered unit. Another worry is that heavy snow has been known to cause window units to detach and crash to the street, which can result in severe physical injuries and legal liability.
Some buildings pass installation or storage costs onto residents. The practice is more common in rentals than in co-ops or condos, but, as Smith notes, if the policy is instituted in good faith and the fee is not excessive, co-op and condo boards are acting within their legal rights when they institute such a policy and require residents to pay for it.
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