New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

LONG ISLAND

When superstorm Sandy hit, co-op and condo owners and many others trying to evacuate and later return home found endless lines at the few gas stations that hadn't completely run out of fuel. Even some emergency vehicles faced gasoline shortages. In response, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has just launched two initiatives under the heading Fuel NY. It includes the nation's first State Strategic Gasoline Reserve and the requirement that about 1,000 gas stations in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County and Rockland County have backup-power generators. The reserve — nearly three million gallons of fuel stored at Northville Industries' terminal in Suffolk County — will be sold to distributors at market prices to provide it to emergency responders, government customers and retail gasoline outlets during emergencies.

If your board isn't up on the two Fs — flooding and federal insurance — you may be inviting trouble. Here's what you need to know, both in terms of having a flood-insurance policy and in how to collect enough from it to afford repairs and restoration.

Floodwaters are rising, and so are concerns about safety. While Governor Andrew Cuomo builds breakwater parks and otherwise sets aside land to protect Nw York City's coastline, co-op and condo boards are taking their own steps to protect themselves. 

“I think you have to be proactive,” I. Ira Litt, former co-op board president of One Kensington Gate, in Great Neck, Long Island, says of flooding, whether from natural disaster or simply a heavy rain. “If it happens once, it’s too much.”

When times get tough and the choice of paying your mortgage or paying your condo's common charges looms, the bank usually wins. But that doesn't mean a condo board is just going to stand still as arrears build up, so expect your board to take action. How, you wonder? By taking away the very thing that enticed you to buy in the first place: your amenities.

Some condo boards are struggling to pay their association’s bills, and are turning to legal machinations to get lagging apartment owners to pay their monthly common charges on time, or even at all. But one Long Island condominium is using a new strategy to collect from deadbeats: filing a lien against the unit, and then foreclosing on the lien.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Seriously? Mark Andermanis, board president of the subsidized Mitchell-Lama co-op East Midtown Plaza, jumps ahead of others to score a four-bedroom apartment — reserved for families of six, which, additionally, he does not have —  and when he won't budge, an alert shareholder sues him. But he gets to keep the primo place because the shareholder doesn't have standing to sue ... and while the co-op board, perhaps, could, here's the thing: He's the co-op board president! Does this sound proper or right to anyone ethical? The good guys do win one, though, when a developer who refused to fix a Long Island condominium complex is permanently barred from selling condos. That's something, at least.

And then there's another reason for condo and co/op boards to be wary of Airbnb....

Unit-owners were vocal about the loan. "Some didn't want the debt, period," recalls Patrick Niland, president of First Funding of New York, the mortgage broker for the transaction. "There were a series of very intense meetings. At one, there was an exchange that almost came to blows."

Your first question has a simple answer: yes. Ever since August 1997, when New York Governor George Pataki signed an amendment to the 1964 Condominium Act, condominiums and homeowners' associations have been able to borrow money for repairs and capital improvements. Terms range from 5 to 10 years, with either floating or fixed interest rates. Amortization rarely exceeds 10 years (although I recently arranged a 15-year fixed-rate loan), making every loan self-liquidating over its term. As "collateral," lenders take an assignment of the association's right to collect common charges from the unit-owners.

Gandolfo ("Dolf") Ferucci has served on the board of the 66-unit Smith Street Gardens in Freeport, Long Island, since the mid-1980s. He moved into the 56-year-old building around 1982, and bought in as an insider when the building went cooperative in 1986. The apartments have very large rooms, he notes, and most residents are elderly and middle-income. Here, talking with Habitat Associate Editor Aparna Narayanan, the co-op board veteran discusses lessons learned over 25 years.

A change in the processing of the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) program may cause nearly half of New York City's homeowners, including co-op shareholders and condo apartment-owners, to miss an average $280 property-tax break due them.

For the first time since the STAR exemption was enacted in 1997, homeowners under 65 years old who are already enrolled are now required to register with the State in order to continue receiving it. Previously, enrollment was automatic so long as the taxpayer continued to own the residence. As the Dec. 31 registration deadline approaches, 53 percent of City homeowners have registered, compared to 66 percent statewide.

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