New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

NEW YORK CITY

As a business researcher / strategist and former condo board member I have been active for years in my 500-plus-unit co-op, serving on finance and elevator committees and as research consultant to committees and board presidents on issues we all face as shareholders. I want to raise an issue of concern to many of our shareholders and to others in our form of housing: the disproportionate power wielded by holders of unsold shares, and the unequal application of the New York State Business Corporation Law, depending on when a co-op's bylaws became effective.

Although the New York State Condominium Act requires a secretary to keep a "record" of  the actions of the board, and the State's Business Corporation Law (BCL) requires that "minutes" be kept, practically speaking, most attorneys say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two requirements. While the BCL statutorily doesn't apply to condos, case law over the years has, practically speaking, placed condominiums under the BCL umbrella.

Worried about guns in your building? Steve Rosenstein is. As board treasurer of a Brooklyn co-op, he maintains and updates the purchase application for unit sales in his building.

"After [the shootings at] Sandy Hook, I started thinking about adding a question or two about gun ownership to the application," he says. "I can tell you definitely that boards are starting to ask questions about guns and firearms as part of co-op admissions and habitability." With gun violence in the news, it may be time for your board to consider gun control.

Switching from No. 6 oil to No. 2 costs significantly less than going from No. 6 to gas. Why? As these two sample proposals by Kenneth Camileri, senior account manager for New York City Clean Heat, make clear, the reason is simple: There is much more work involved in changing from No. 6 to gas. That takes time, and that, of course, means more money for condominium and co-op boards.

Condominium and co-op board-meeting minutes are an important way to promote the value in your property. Although there is no legal requirement to share the minutes with the shareholders or potential buyers, most attorneys argue that you should show them because, otherwise, it looks like you're hiding something. The minutes can be reviewed by owners and potential buyers to evaluate the competency of the board, the state of the building's finances, litigation and other matters.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn yesterday announced a report recommending broad changes affecting co-ops, condos and all other New York City buildings that face the expected floods, destructive wind, blackouts and other extreme-weather results of climate change.

Among the proposals, which the mayor and speaker said they would pursue immediately, are Building Code upgrades, zoning changes and having buildings prepare emergency plans that include backup power and water. Earlier this week, the mayor additionally proposed a City registry of the most vulnerable citizens to better coordinate assistance and rescue.

"We have a shareholder in our co-op who moved out," says Manhattan co-op board president Regina Warren says, "and the shareholder now has a subtenant living in his unit. The subtenant went through all the proper co-op application channels and signed an appropriate subtenant lease. Now the subtenant wants to bring in a non-related roommate. Can the board require this new person to apply just like the original subtenant?" 

As an attorney, I recently read a report of a settlement in a lawsuit where a woman sued a property owner for damages she suffered after tripping and falling over a concrete parking barrier in a parking lot. Although the case did not involve a co-op or condominium parking lot, it easily could have. The fact is, some our condo clients have been sued by owners, residents or guests after they likewise tripped over a concrete parking barrier, claiming that it was a dangerous condition because they could not distinguish the parking barrier from the asphalt parking lot surface.

What to Expect When You Need to Have a Local Law 11 'Special Inspection'

Written by Stephen Varone and Peter Varsalona on May 30, 2013

New York City

The well-known Local Law 11/98, requiring every-five-year façade inspection of buildings seven stories or taller, sometimes requires co-op and condo boards to have "special inspections" of particular items. Formerly called "controlled inspections," they cover such items as materials, equipment, installation, fabrication and construction methods and are typically more rigorous than standard "progress inspections." Part 1 of this article gave an introduction to special inspections. Here we give more detail of what condo and co-op boards should expect.

We all want to feel safe in our own homes, and in a small co-op or condominium, any incident from theft of a bicycle to a personal confrontation can cause a major shift in perspective. For boards of small and midsize buildings without doormen, the first reaction is often to look at your security system, which encompasses front- and roof-door locks, intercoms, exterior lighting, keeping sight lines clear by trimming trees that could conceal someone lurking near the entrance, and moving mailboxes to the front of the building, where security is generally concentrated. But how do you do it affordably?

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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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