New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

NASSAU COUNTY

Promoting staff based on how popular someone is with the residents, rather than on strictly professional criteria and experience, is an invitation to problems — and there could be no greater example than the experience of one co-op board in Freeport, Long Island, when a staffer's popularity allowed him to buy two apartments and eventually win election to the five-member board, where he and two cronies gained control of the building.

Hoarding is a mental illness, and condo and co-op boards need to treat hoarders with the same care and understanding as they would anyone with a mental-health issue. But that doesn't mean you ignore the safety, hygiene and vermin problems that hoarders bring about. Here are some tips.

 

The  Beachwalk Landing Condominium in Long Beach, on Long Island, was having its share of problems. The oceanfront property — two buildings nearly 30 years old with a total of 72 units — was suffering from wear and needed all sorts of work, ranging from replacing terrace doors and air-conditioning sleeves to repairing the balconies and terraces. While there was little argument that things needed to be done, paying the price tag of $3.75 million for all that capital work was an issue. Some residents simply couldn't afford it to pay their share of the needed assessment. Or could they?

Many co-op and condo boards require its shareholders or unit-owners to carry homeowner insurance. It makes for a smoother-running building by, for instance, not having to have the building pay for repairs when an uninsured resident damages a common area, and then having sue the resident to recoup the outlay. Or if a contractor hired by an uninsured resident hurts himself due to the resident's negligence, leading the contractor to sue the building. So, yeah, lots of scenarios you could think of make it good to have your homeowners be insured. But enforcing that requirement? Good luck. Fortunately, there are ways to help you do that.

True story: Shareholders at one Manhattan co-op voted down a referendum that would have required them to buy homeowner insurance. Then one day some water pipes burst, the building's insurance didn't cover all the damage, and the board had to issue an assessment to make up the difference. Shareholders who had homeowners insurance got reimbursed by their insurance companies for the assessment amount. Those without had to pay out of pocket. And the next time the board tried to require homeowner insurance — the shareholders voted it down again!

Guess you can't insure against shortsightedness. That notwithstanding, condo and co-op boards still may want to mandate that unit-owners and shareholders carry insurance, as many buildings already require. But how?

 

On October 29, Superstorm Sandy bore down on Lido Beach Towers on Long Island, unleashing its wrath on the 184-unit condominium complex. The first floor was overwhelmed by a 15-foot storm surge and five feet of sand. The water reached the ceiling tiles. All the mechanical equipment housed on the ground floor was destroyed, along with numerous ground-floor apartments.

But the upper levels were largely spared despite the building's beachfront location. Although no one can live in the six-story condo because it lacks heat and running water, all of the apartments above the ground floor are sound. The condo board says its 2002 decision to overhaul the Lido's façade is the reason the vast majority of residences did not suffer damage. The $18 million project had the unintended consequence of making the exterior sturdy enough to withstand the might of a hurricane.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, FEMA extends the filing deadline for homeowners, including co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners, applying for grants, some nervous neighbors at a co-op jump to conclusions, and a condo-owner has an overhead problem in the form of a heavy cell-phone tower. Plus, for co-op and condo boards, the tax-abatement renewal bill has passed the New York State Senate. Now will it get through the Assembly?

With a new storm threatening to strike the city and its suburbs today, co-op / condo property managers continue to supervise clean-up activities from Hurricane Sandy — even as they prepare for more rain and winds.

When the wind and rain of Hurricane Irene whipped across the Ocean Harbor View Apartments, a 56-unit co-op in Freeport, New York, on August 28, 2011, the massive storm did more than get the property wet: it flooded the laundry room and damaged three out of the eight machines within. It was not long afterwards that the seven-person board of the cooperative — located at 494 South Ocean Avenue and built in 1950 — decided it was time to turn a disaster into an opportunity. The room would be completely renovated.

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