New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide

HABITAT

NEW YORK CITY

No matter how quickly a lobby renovation is completed or how cost-effective the project was, someone is bound to be unhappy with the way it looks, the cost and how long it took to finish.

What may seem down-at-the-heels to one shareholder may seem like the Ritz to someone else. Ask realtors if sales are suffering because the lobby is turning people off. Get consensus from everyone that it actually needs to be renovated.

A Co-op Fights a Predatory Board Member. And You Can, Too.

Written by Joel E. Miller on November 05, 2014

New York City

The client's tale: There was a co-op that was for many years controlled and looted by an unscrupulous predator. He was able to do that because the resident shareholders were from other countries and had little awareness of our laws and customs. Also, they believed that the law would protect them. They never received financial statements, but were not aware that they were supposed to. The co-op did not file income-tax returns, but the people did not know that either.

Accordingly, the people saw no reason to be concerned. Also, the predator was keeping the maintenance low (by causing the co-op not to pay bills), and he had persuaded the people that he was protecting them from, as portrayed by the predator, the evil sponsor.

On the Money: Co-op Loans and the Proprietary Lease Problem

Written by Jonathan Leaf on November 04, 2014

New York City

Jerry Niemeier, Vice President of Risk Management for co-op lending at Nationstar Mortgage, runs a group that reviews the background and finances of co-ops.

While he never meets the people seeking out his employer's loans, he plays a role in deciding whether eminently creditworthy customers seeking to live in well-established, solidly financed co-ops can receive a loan. The answer he may be compelled to give is no.

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. 

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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