New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021



Hey, Infrared Thermography Can Detect Building Leaks! So, Uh, What Is it?

Written by Stephen Varone & Peter Varsalona on August 16, 2012

New York City

A reader asks: Our condominium has been experiencing leaks in the top-floor apartments, along one apartment line, in a stairwell and in the lobby. Contractors have made as-needed repairs to the roof over the past year, but eventually the leaks returned. Before we undertake a full-scale roof replacement, the board wants to do a thorough leakage investigation to determine the cause of the water penetration. We've heard how an infrared camera can take photos of the roof and other areas of the building to locate leaks. How exactly does it work, and how effective is it?

 Infrared thermography is a diagnostic tool used to detect potential building problems, including water penetration, heat or cooling loss, blockages in plumbing systems, malfunctioning mechanical systems, overloaded electrical circuits, structural defects, and substandard building construction.

For co-op boards, condo associations and others, the main advantage of an infrared survey is that it gives a view of building conditions beyond what can be seen by eyes alone. Another advantage is that it is a non-destructive method of testing, so it does not disturb the area being investigated. When used on mechanical and electrical systems, it doesn't interfere with equipment operation of equipment, so there's no need for shutdowns.

Even the bitterest of rivals in the relationship between co-op shareholders and what we colloquially call sponsors must come together when there is a common interest at stake. When an issue escalates to the point of litigation, for example, the sponsor will often work with the board to get testimony from shareholders to support his or her case.

Employment discrimination laws are designed to ensure equal employment opportunity for all individuals by prohibiting discrimination on a variety of bases and requiring companies to accommodate qualified disabilities and religious beliefs. But what happens when those very protections and accommodations for one protected trait appear to justify or mandate discrimination against a different protected class? Consider this hypothetical situation, based on real events.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, the Realty Advisory Board is negotiating on behalf of boards and landlords as it continues contract talks with the union representing doormen and other building workers. New York State has some questions about NYSERDA money at Co-op City. A Queens co-op seeks money to repair a Sandy-battered seawall. And who's the best building manager and which is the best property-management company in New York. Well, there are many factors consider including continuity of leadership, responsiveness to clients, stability, experience, expertise, sufficient staffing and industry reputation and good will. Or you could just go check out the NYARM Awards.

Updated Feb. 18, 2014 — Rumblings of malfeasance are circulating and sources confirm that a New York City District Attorney's office is investigating a major property-management company. For co-op and condo boards, this is wakeup call that financial controls and vigilance should be the order of the day.

It appears that a theft of funds is the source of concern. Sources close to the investigation say a large co-op (or perhaps several) is missing a significant portion of its reserve-fund account. The property-management company, the sole signatory on the account, had led the board to believe the money was still in the account by preparing false bank statements.

The history of bad blood between boards and holders of unsold shares or unsold apartments — often called "sponsors" though they might be not the original co-op sponsor or condo developer anymore — dates back to the rental-building conversion boom of the 1980s. Sponsors were the building owners who converted to cooperative status, with units sold to the public. However, in most cases, they would keep a number of apartments and retain majority control of the boards. As a result, they would have the largest say in rules, regulations, and spending for their buildings. This goes on today with new construction and some condominium developers. 

And the first step for condo and co-op boards that want an effective working relationship with a sponsor? It's understanding how sponsors think.

Getting bitten? Don't be shy. It's time to talk once again about bedbugs (also spelled "bed bugs"), those bloodsuckers from Hell that are present in many homeowners' nightmares. Although complaints about the pests have diminished, New York City co-op and condo dwellers, among others, still deal with outbreaks. Eradication can be a huge expense, and if bedbugs spread throughout the building, more than one pest control visit may be required to fully get rid of them.

What a "Benchmarking" Energy Audit Entails: The ABCs of EUIs and EERs

Written by Stephen Varone & Peter Varsalona on January 22, 2013

New York City

The purpose of the energy audit and its associated energy efficiency report (EER) is to identify ways to improve a building's energy efficiency, from system upgrades to operational and maintenance measures.

Her name was Kim and she lived in Forest Hills, Queens, in a 100-unit cooperative. She was on the co-op board and was talking, with great animation, about a shareholder who had "disappeared" and mysteriously left his apartment empty. My ears perked up. Was this a story of drama and intrigue, one that would offer new insights into board life?

A few days before Christmas, as part of Michael Bloomberg's six-year-old PlaNYC, the outgoing mayor rolled out the New York City Carbon Challenge, an ambitious effort to get the city's three million units of multifamily housing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent over the next 10 years.

Co-ops and condos are a big part of this mix. Their 400,000 units make up about 16 percent of the city's multifamily housing — and residential buildings account for more than one-third of the city's greenhouse gas emissions.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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