New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) officially announced last week the inclusion of a tax-relief program for small homeowners, renters and co-op and condo owners in this year's New York State budget. After the original proposal entailed tax relief solely for renters, Avella introduced legislation to include condominiums and cooperative owners and other homeowners.

Following a recent fatal accident involving the failure of a high-rise balcony, the well-known Local Law 11 (LL11) was updated to include not simply façade inspection every five years but also inspection of the railings on balconies, terraces, roofs and even some fire escapes. So just how much will this expanded LL11 — now called the Façade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP) — cost condo and co-op boards?

Special assessments are the traditional vehicle through which condominiums have raised money for repairs and capital improvements. While relatively simple in concept, assessments have two drawbacks in practice. First, they usually take a fair amount of time to collect since most unit-owners don't have a lot of idle cash available. Second, most assessments place the entire financial burden of capital improvements on current unit-owners instead of spreading it over the useful lives of those improvements.

Fidelity Bonds & Theft Insurance: The Basics

Written by Mitch Warner on April 08, 2014

New York City

Fidelity bonds are a form of insurance that covers policyholders for losses incurred as a result of fraudulent acts by specified individuals. Also known as crime policies and employee theft insurance, this wasn't even on the radar of many cooperative and condominium boards until a few years ago. Then the mortgage crisis hit. Suddenly, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored giants that purchase many co-op and condo loans from the original lenders, announced they would begin enforcing a rule that had been on the books — but widely ignored — for years. Is your building following it?

The board member was angry about a widespread concern: The shareholders in his Queens co-op didn't seem to care much about the issues facing the property. As long as the maintenance remained low, they didn't want to get involved. There was one thing about which some of them were anxious, however: one of the residents was accused by some of being a thief. The angry co-op board member suggested a solution: "Put the thief in charge of the building, and soon, apathy won't be a problem."

In the immediacy of the moment during an apartment-house fire, people can panic. Timely information helps prevent panic. And so in the wake of high-profile high-rise fires, the question of how to get crucial fire information to building residents — whether through Internet- or phone-based systems or through what the industry calls "one-way communication" such as public-address systems in hallways or individual apartments — has become the New York City Council's next burning issue.

And unless that issue's addressed quickly, the desire to mandate life-saving communication paradoxically may cost lives.

More for You to Do: Local Law 11 Adds Balcony Inspections

Written by Jennifer V. Hughes on April 17, 2014

New York City

Now you have to do more. Condo and co-op board members are discovering there is suddenly another layer of scrutiny beyond what they've done under Local Law 11 (LL11) — and it's potentially significant. It applies even if you completed LL11 work in Cycle 7.

Railings on balconies, terraces, roofs and even, in some cases, fire escapes and enclosures must now be inspected for structural safety during LL11 work, or as it is now known, the Façade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP).

Surprise! Law Finally Mandates Emergency Drinking Water

Written by Jennifer V. Hughes on March 18, 2014

New York City

One of the major problems after superstorm Sandy was a lack of drinking water and water to flush toilets — because of a problem not with supply, but with powering pumps that provided water to upper floors.

Local Law 110, passed in November 2013, requires any condo or co-op over five stories to have an emergency drinking water station accessible by all residents. There must be one fixture for every 100 occupants, and the stations must be installed in existing buildings by 2021.

Local Law 11: A Primer

Written by Frank Lovece on December 31, 1969

New York City

Terra cotta became "terror cotta" on May 16, 1979, when a chunk of lintel broke off from the seventh or eighth floor of 601 West 115th Street, a Columbia University-owned apartment house built in 1912. It crashed onto Barnard College freshman Grace Gold, killing her.

Barnard would rename part of its McIntosh Student Center in her memory, but Gold's tragic legacy reverberated further: The year after her death, New York City passed what would become one of its most widespread, enduring and, for building-owners, toughest and most expensive building-safety laws.

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.

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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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