New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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New York City's Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), also called Local Law 11, requires that owners of buildings with six or more stories above an exposed basement wall undergo an exterior inspection every five years. The law is currently in its seventh cycle, but after February 21, Cycle 8 will begin, and boards will want to confirm with their management companies that all the necessary steps are taken to ensure that all reports and supplemental forms are submitted. 

Included with the Cycle 7 reports, all buildings that need to comply with Local Law 11 now have to go one step further and inspect all balconies, terraces, handrails, canopies, antennae, satellite dishes, air conditioners, and fire escapes and file a supplemental statement.

It's the issue that no one on the board wants to talk about, but it can't be avoided: residents are getting older. And with older communities come new problems – but maybe there are new solutions, too.

Susan Birenbaum is one of an underrepresented group of professionals known as Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs). Different from a home health aide, a geriatric care manager acts as a liaison between relatives of elderly residents and those that care for them – doctors, home aides, therapists, and more. 

Last week we looked at some key areas where boards tend to defer maintenance. Plumbing was number one on the list — and it's a tricky one. It's easy to see why people don't address plumbing problems until they happen, being that you have to break through walls to access problematic pipes. And people are probably not going to be keen on having you tear up their bathroom "just" for some routine maintenance.

Yet performing regular preventive maintenance can reduce overall yearly costs for plumbing repairs. Here are the areas in which you can stay ahead of plumbing problems.

If you want a snapshot of how New York's property management field has changed over the past quarter-century, you should look into the history of Cooper Square Realty. When Dan Wurtzel joined the fledgling company in 1987, he was one of four employees. Today, he's president of the New York operation of FirstService Residential, which purchased a stake in Cooper Square in 2003 and later formed partnerships with Wentworth New York and Goodstein Management. With 400 employees and more than 500 properties in its portfolio, FirstService Residential is now the largest management firm in the city.

A subsidiary of Toronto-based FirstService Corp., FirstService Residential operates in 21 states and has more than 12,000 employees. 

Warning Signs: When Your Building's Financials Are Late

Written by Stuart Saft on January 27, 2015

New York City

Waiting for the fiscal year to end is why so many co-ops and condos have their annual meetings in May and June. The annual financial statements should be delivered by the accountant to the board and the shareholders or unit-owners within four months of the end of the fiscal year (usually by April 30 if the fiscal year is also the calendar year). However, if the fiscal year is not the calendar year, the financial statements will be due later than April 30. The annual meeting should be held after the financial statements are received so the unit-owners and shareholders have an opportunity to review them prior to the annual meeting when the auditor can answer questions about them.

Maybe not everyone in New York is a fan of all the new condos going up, but sometimes good does come out of the inconvenience of noisy construction sites. Founded by Polish immigrants from Mezritch in 1910, the Adas Yisroel Anshe Mezritch Synagogue fell into such a state of disrepair it was forced to close its doors six months ago. But before you lament yet another piece of New York history gone, good news. The synagogue is being completely renovated and is scheduled to open its doors again this year, thanks to a new condo plan, reports the New York Daily News. The temple will remain on the ground floor, and "three luxe apartments, including one 11-foot penthouse addition, will be built upstairs" and are scheduled to hit the market this fall. Not everyone is happy about turning part of a religious building "over to for-profit real estate developers," but thanks to the controversial deal, at least the building and the shul will be preserved. According to the Daily News, East River Partners (the developer) "is also planning to pay an annual maintenance fee to keep the shul running for 200 more years." That's a pretty neat compromise.

Photo by Nicholas Strini for Property Shark.

It's easy to forget that one of the byproducts of all this new condo construction is disruption of life as usual — unless you live across the street from it, that is. Take the rental building across the street from a luxury condo that is under construction. One of its tenants wrote to Ronda Kaysen's latest "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times explaining that a structure has been erected in front of the rental building to accommodate fire trucks from the station, likewise across the street from the construction site. According to the tenant, "taxis, cars and moving trucks can no longer pull up to the front of the building…. [and] traffic [has been] diverted to a small lane next to this structure, creating unsafe conditions for drivers and pedestrians." It's a political question, explains Kaysen, adding that the tenant could contact the Department of Transportation (DOT), or better yet the local community board or elected officials. But the bottom line is that, very likely, "the condo is an as-of-right development, which means that it was not subject to a public review process where the community would have had the opportunity to weigh in on practical matters like where to house fire trucks. This might explain why the structure seemingly rose out of thin air." It's something for existing co-ops and condos to keep in mind, especially since next time, one of those new condos — and any accompanying ugly structures — might be right outside their doors rather than outside a rental building.

A resident asks: I am on my condo's board. There's a unit owner who moved into the building a couple of years ago. She's on the first floor. A few months after she moved in, she placed two bins on the first floor for recycling, along with a notice letting unit owners know to use them. But she did this without consulting with the board. There's been nothing drastic, for now, but I'm trying to convince my board that we have to talk to her, get her to stop before the problem escalates and the building gets fined. They think I'm being dramatic. What can I do?

Annual water rate increases in New York City were in the low single digits a dozen years ago: prices rose by one percent in 2001 and by three percent in 2002. Then, in a terrible piece of timing, annual rate increases soared into double digits just as the Great Recession was reaching its terrible depths. In 2008 the increase was 11.5 percent; the following three years saw increases of 14.5 percent, 12.9 percent, and 12.9 percent. Just like that, water had become a major and growing expense when many buildings could least afford it.

Officials from the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Water Board offered a variety of explanations that did little to mollify New Yorkers suddenly faced with staggering water bills. The officials blamed everything from neglected infrastructure to unfunded federal mandates. There is a lot of expensive work going on, including the construction of a $2.8 billion filtration plant, a $1.4 billion ultraviolet disinfection facility, and the ongoing work on the $6 billion Tunnel No. 3 that will supplement the city's two existing water tunnels, which were built in 1917 and 1936 and are expected to need major work in the future. That work will be addressed once Tunnel No. 3 is completed.

Early this month, The New York Times declared 2015 to be the Year of the Condo, and with good reason. Reports from various residential brokerages, including the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group cited by the Times, projected that at least 6,500 new luxury condo units in more than 100 buildings would be available for the taking this year. After a five-year drought, that figure seemed pretty impressive. But a report published last week by Halstead Property Development Marketing paints a different picture.

It looks like the number of new condos available for purchase this year is closer to about 3,500. Why?

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