New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



The Americans with Disabilities Act Affects Your Building's Retail Spaces

Written by Steven D. Sladkus, Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Jeffrey S. Reich on December 06, 2012

New York City

One cooperative association that we represent owns commercial space on the ground floor of its building, and fell victim to a serial lawsuit brought under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA allows disabled individuals to file lawsuits against co-ops and condominiums, forcing them to alter entrances to their storefronts to make them handicapped-accessible. Though monetary damages are not available under Title III, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorneys' fees. In recent years, a small group of ADA lawyers has capitalized on this by teaming up with a serial ADA plaintiff (one who is unquestionably disabled) and commencing hundreds of lawsuits based on technical or very minor ADA violations.

New Board Members' Common Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid them

Written by Amelia J. Adair on December 07, 2012

New York City

Many articles talk about how to handle the tough stuff that may come up during co-op or condo board meetings. But sometimes it's the easy stuff that can trip you up. Here's a handy list of  "rookie mistakes" — oversights that new or inexperienced condo / co-op board presidents or committee meeting chairs often make.  Keep this with you and you’ll be more confident and professional while you preside over your first meetings.

Each loan officer evaluates potential borrowers in his or her own way, giving more or less weight to individual parameters. And each lender has a loan appetite that's slightly different from that of its competitors. While these differences tend to be subtle, they can, at times, result in varied loan terms. One very important factor: your building's ownership profile.

A co-op board was being sued by a shareholder over possible mold in the shareholder's apartment. The shareholder had a daughter who, unfortunately, suffered from a terrible disease and was forced to use a wheelchair. The board members asked my advice; I suggested that they inspect the apartment for mold. They found mold, but not the dangerous kind. The shareholder's mold consultant disagreed, and the shareholder pressed the litigation vigorously.

The decision to pursue legal fees incurred by a board when a co-op shareholder or condo unit-owner defaults often becomes a larger problem and greater issue than the default that originally precipitated the lawsuit. Here are three cases that illustrate the point

Mold in Apartments: Why Boards Should Address It Quickly

Written by Marc H. Schneider on November 29, 2012

New York City

The board of a co-op our firm represents was advised by a shareholder that there was mold in the apartment. The board did not believe there was mold and believed the responsibility to repair any such mold and the other damages in the apartment was not the co-op's responsibility. Ultimately, since the co-op board was not responsive to the shareholder, the water damage worsened and the mold continued to grow. The shareholder ultimately filed a lawsuit against the co-op due to the board's  unresponsiveness.

A condominium unit-owner complained of leaks in various areas of her apartment over a period of three years, and each time, the condo association's management company hired a contractor to repair the leak. However, the condo board refused to pay for repairs within the unit. Ultimately, the owner hired a mold-testing company, which reported mold in the apartment, including on her furniture, as well as on the exterior of the building. The owner replaced her furniture, remodeled her kitchen and demanded that the board reimburse her those costs and clean the mold from the outside of the building.

A cooperative retained a contractor to perform interior renovations. During the course of the project one of the shareholders claimed to have been made sick as a result of purportedly noxious fumes created by the work. The co-op board filed a claim with its general liability carrier who, in turn, requested to see the contractor's certificate of insurance. That's when the trouble started.

Hundreds of thousands of New York City co-op and condo owners may have avoided a bullet this week, according to a report that the City will honor a tax break State legislators promised in July but did not enact. The City, however, has made no official announcement, and politicians are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take action and ease the uncertainty.

Recently, one of our boards left the annual meeting somewhat shell-shocked. How could things have gone so wrong? In this co-op, there had never been a contested election, and so the board had not thought to involve counsel in the election process or review that process with counsel. However, now the board found itself not only in a contested election, but also one in which cumulative voting was used to elect members of an opposition group.

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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