New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



The history of bad blood between boards and holders of unsold shares or unsold apartments — often called "sponsors" though they might be not the original co-op sponsor or condo developer anymore — dates back to the rental-building conversion boom of the 1980s. Sponsors were the building owners who converted to cooperative status, with units sold to the public. However, in most cases, they would keep a number of apartments and retain majority control of the boards. As a result, they would have the largest say in rules, regulations, and spending for their buildings. This goes on today with new construction and some condominium developers. 

And the first step for condo and co-op boards that want an effective working relationship with a sponsor? It's understanding how sponsors think.

Getting bitten? Don't be shy. It's time to talk once again about bedbugs (also spelled "bed bugs"), those bloodsuckers from Hell that are present in many homeowners' nightmares. Although complaints about the pests have diminished, New York City co-op and condo dwellers, among others, still deal with outbreaks. Eradication can be a huge expense, and if bedbugs spread throughout the building, more than one pest control visit may be required to fully get rid of them.

What a "Benchmarking" Energy Audit Entails: The ABCs of EUIs and EERs

Written by Stephen Varone & Peter Varsalona on January 22, 2013

New York City

The purpose of the energy audit and its associated energy efficiency report (EER) is to identify ways to improve a building's energy efficiency, from system upgrades to operational and maintenance measures.

Her name was Kim and she lived in Forest Hills, Queens, in a 100-unit cooperative. She was on the co-op board and was talking, with great animation, about a shareholder who had "disappeared" and mysteriously left his apartment empty. My ears perked up. Was this a story of drama and intrigue, one that would offer new insights into board life?

A few days before Christmas, as part of Michael Bloomberg's six-year-old PlaNYC, the outgoing mayor rolled out the New York City Carbon Challenge, an ambitious effort to get the city's three million units of multifamily housing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent over the next 10 years.

Co-ops and condos are a big part of this mix. Their 400,000 units make up about 16 percent of the city's multifamily housing — and residential buildings account for more than one-third of the city's greenhouse gas emissions.

One man, they say, can change history. And in 2003, David Pullman did just that, lending his name to the precedent-setting court decision in 40 W. 67th Street v. Pullman. 

Financial professional Pullman — who'd already made headlines working with David Bowie to package the singer’s copyrights and catalog into what he trademarked as “Bowie Bonds” — had a documented history of ranting, raving and circulating defamatory fliers about various perceived transgressions at his Rosario Candela prewar classic. He pushed the co-op board and the shareholders to their limit, and then some. Finally, in a landmark turn, 100 percent of the shareholders voting in a special election, representing 75 percent of the shares, agreed to kick him out. The subsequent court case upholding that action solidified New York State co-op boards' nuclear option: eviction for "objectionable" behavior.

The landmark court decision in 40 W. 67th Street v. Pullman (2003) set the precedent that fully established that New York State co-op boards could, within certain criteria, evict shareholders found to be "objectionable." Many jocularly call this "the nuclear option," and it should only be used as a last resort. There are options boards can take before circumstances reach that extreme point. 

But if you do need to pull a Pullman, how do you go about it?

As the second storm of the week hit New York City and its environs, some managers say calcium chloride, or sidewalk salt, is in short supply. "We are running out," said Pamela DeLorme, president of Delkap Management, based in Howard Beach, Queens. "We bought a few thousand bags before the season began, but with the frequent storms, the substance is now in short supply." Delkap obtained about 2,000 bags of salt two weeks ago.

A co-op board I represent was confronted with the problem of bedbug infestation in several units in the building. A few individual apartments had become infested with bedbugs, but never notified the board, the managing agent or their neighbors. Because these unit-owners did not properly remedy the bedbug situation, it spread to other apartments.

An apartment in the 22-unit Manhattan co-op where I am board president recently reported the possible presence of bedbugs. Before the board members could schedule an inspection, the tenant-shareholder in the possibly infested apartment told us he was already taking action: At the same time that he notified the board, he also apparently had scheduled an exterminator to come in and deal with the bugs. No chemicals involved, either: He was going to put on the heat, literally. And faster than you can say, "Flame on" (or so it seemed to me), a big generator, with tubing coming into the second-floor windows, was sitting outside our building, with hot air being pumped into the apartment.

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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