New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) requires owners of landmark properties and buildings located within an LPC-designated historic district to get the commission's approval before undertaking alterations or repairs. Changes to properties affected by LPC rules must preserve the architectural integrity of the building's original design, and they cannot unnecessarily clash with the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood. The LPC provides clear guidelines on which type of work does or does not require a permit. Approval is not needed for ordinary repairs or maintenance work, such as repainting (if it matches the existing color), caulking around windows and doors, replacing broken window glass, or removing a small amount of graffiti. Most other work, however, will require approval from the LPC, including the following:

Navigating the world of New York real estate is no easy feat. Any co-op or condo owner can attest to that fact, even if they aren't in the 1 percent that seems to be the main focus of real estate news as luxury condos continue popping up all over the city. When you sell a co-op or condo, the road from signed contract to closed sale can be, as one Beatle once put it, a long and winding one. explains that the amount of time it can take depends on the "kind of apartment you’ve got, the demand for it, and you and your buyer’s ability and desire to finalize the deal quickly." It also breaks down the milestones co-op and condo owners can expect when getting ready to sell in the city in this neat infographic. Click it again to enlarge.

On the Money: The New UCC, the Devil Is in the Details

Written by Carol J. Ott on January 28, 2015

New York City

You can thank a farmer in Kansas for what is about to happen to the world of New York co-op lending. Whether you call him Terry Kinderknecht, Terrance J. Kinderknecht, Terry J. Kinderknecht, or Terrance Joseph Kinderknecht, he hit hard times and declared bankruptcy in 2002. A year before going under, though, Kinderknecht had financed two new tractors from John Deere, and the loan documents were filed under the name "Terry J. Kinderknecht."

And herein lies the problem.

It used to be that co-ops got the bum rap for requiring potential buyers and renters to fill out extensive applications, but it looks like condos are starting to follow suit. Just ask a condo owner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who writes to Ronda Kaysen in the latest "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times. "The board has instituted a process for renting out units that involves a lengthy application and significant fees. The board says the process is allowed under its right of first refusal, which allows the board to rent a unit under the same terms that the unit is offered." The condo owner wants to know whether the board can use its right of first refusal in this manner and whether it can be stopped. Kaysen explains that a "building’s bylaws determine whether a board can require an application and fees for renting out a unit." If it's in the bylaws, there's not much this condo unit can do to challenge. And if it's not in the bylaws? Well, it's a case of knowing when to pick your battles. The condo owner can ask the board to review its procedures but any legal action would probably cost more than the application fee.

There are three critical elements of any successful underlying mortgage refinancing: planning, pricing, and processing. If you're planning to refinance your underlying mortgage, read on to see how you can make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Energy Detective: The Case of the Busted Boiler

Written by Tom Sahagian on February 02, 2015

New York City

My friend Octavia was in a quandary. "I need a new boiler," she informed me, "but I don't know how big it should be."

"If I had to surmise, I'd say probably a lot smaller than what it is now," I offered somewhat drily. "How big is the existing one, and by the way, how do you know you need a new one?"

Before replying directly, Octavia reminded me of the facts concerning her 25-unit building. The heating plant, which provided both heat and domestic hot water (DHW), was 50 boiler horsepower (BHP). It was now leaking water out of the back end. The heating season was a month away, and she had two fairly old bids in hand: one for another 50-horse unit, and the other for a 60-horse unit!

A wistful sigh escaped my lips, unfortunately loud enough for her to hear. "Did I say something wrong?" she asked, a hint of annoyance in her voice.

With its bright lights and bombastic reputation, New York City is a bustling place. It's the last place you'd expect to have peace and quiet. But that doesn't stop the noise from rankling many of its residents. It may well be called the city that never sleeps with good reason, but that doesn't change the fact that many of us have to be up at 6 a.m. or earlier (ouch) to get ready for work. And if New Yorkers are good at something, it's complaining.

Michael Lentin, owner of CitiQuiet (soundproof windows), has mapped the neighborhoods with the most 311 calls and why people complain.

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.

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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