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A Cautionary Tale About a Co-op Board's Avarice

Written by Michael T. Manzi on November 24, 2014

New York City

The client’s tale: Some people see problems, others see opportunities. A tenant-shareholder in a small co-op wished to sublet his commercial unit for a considerable rent. The co-op had no subletting fees. But considering how profitable the subletting was going to be for the shareholder and how anxious the shareholder was to get the sublease approved, certain board members saw the request for consent as a financial opportunity. Instead of simply denying the request for subletting, which it had the right to do, the board said it would agree to a sublease if a number of demands were met, including a $100,000 payment.

Sprinkler Law: Is It a Big Deal or Just Routine?

Written by Tom Soter on November 20, 2014

New York City

Dec. 3 is very close — and if you're a board member or manager, you may be concerned. Then again, you may not. The one thing that's indisputable is that Dec. 3 is a deadline of which you, your manager, and/or your attorney should be aware. Here's the deal: effective in less than two weeks, all residential leases (which include proprietary leases) in New York State signed after Dec. 3 must include a notice to the tenant about the presence or absence of sprinkler systems in the "leased premises."

A READER ASKS: Our board is self-managed. But I'm beginning to dread the meetings. It seems like they drag on forever, nothing ever gets accomplished and everybody ends up fighting. I end up going home frustrated and hungry. This isn't what I signed up for. After putting in a full day of work (and then some) at the office, I don't want my pay off to be two or three more hours' worth of in fighting. Is there anything we can do to make our meetings run smoother and actually be productive?

A READER ASKS: A member of our board has been doing some research into unusual green initiatives for our building — something beyond changing lightbulbs or converting our boiler. He read something about a "regenerative elevator drive," but we're not sure how it works or whether or not it's worth it. Could you explain a little bit about it?

Forget snooty boards. You might instead find your attempt to buy a co-op stymied by the fact the building has a doctor's office. Wha?

As BrickUnderground.com's "Ask the Experts" column reveals, a little-known lending hurdle involving Fannie Mae rules may kill a sale. In one case, the culprit is lenders misinterpreting one of those rules. Good to know. The other instance is a little more complicated and concerns whether the office is technically part of the co-op. While the article erroneously refers to co-op loans as mortgages, and doesn't go into condos and actual mortgages, it does offer possible solutions in things you can do and places to which you can turn. And that could be just what the doctor ordered.

A READER ASKS: For the last year, my board has been trying to figure out what to do about a super who has, in our opinion, not been doing his job. He has many allies among the shareholders because he does favors and side projects for them. One of those allies is a board member, who we believe tipped him off about our plans to fire him. The super, to safeguard his job, has gone on disability, and the board member is trying to unseat the current board at the upcoming annual meeting. Several longstanding board members can’t take the pressure and have announced they’re not running. Can I tell the shareholders that a board member leaked information to the super about confidential board discussions? And can I also disclose that the board member and some others on his slate are paying the super on the side to do work on their apartments?

How Boards Can Deal with Residents Who Repeatedly Break House Rules

Written by Lewis Montana, Levine & Montana on November 03, 2014

New York City

The client's tale: A 130-unit garden-style co-op had a house rule that generally prohibited pets and banned feeding wild animals on the common grounds. A shareholder’s spouse loved to do just that, attracting feral cats, raccoons, and other wild creatures. The presence of the wild animals was most annoying to several of the nearby residents, who were also concerned about animal excrement and the threat of rabies, among other things. The managing agent and I sent many letters to the shareholder requesting that the spouse stop feeding the wild animals. Fines were issued. 

The client’s tale: The co-op board started hearing rumors that many buildings were terminating their relationship with their managing agent and that many of the agent’s employees were quitting.

The board started to get a little nervous, but it received management reports and had a certified financial statement from their accountant for the last calendar year. After a few months, the board decided that even if the accounts appeared to be fine, it didn’t want to be the last building managed by this seemingly troubled agent. 

 

May 8, 2014 — Now you have another six months.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced a further six-month extension for superstorm Sandy victims who carry the federal government's Standard Flood Insurance Policy. The deadline for filing an updated "proof of loss" form — a statement on the amount a co-op or condo apartment owner is claiming under his or her flood-insurance policy — was already extended once to April 28, 2014, and has now been extended to October 29, 2014. The extension applies to losses from Sandy flood damage that occurred between October 25 and November 6, 2012.

Why Boards Should Never Ignore Formalities

Written by Phyllis H. Weisberg on November 19, 2014

New York City

The client's tale: A condominium board had instituted litigation against the sponsor. The sponsor moved to dismiss, claiming that the board did not have the authority to act. The court, in analyzing the facts, found that the board had clear statutory authority to institute litigation, but held that because the board had not adhered to the proper procedure — it had not called a meeting to authorize the litigation — it did not have the authority to file suit. As a result, the suit was dismissed.

Ask the Experts

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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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