New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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A recent appellate division decision held that the Business Judgment Rule does not protect individual condominium and cooperative board members from some personal tort liability. And New York's public policy of not permitting insurance coverage against the intentional acts of the insured should raise alarm, especially when combined with other recent actions such as the flood of frivolous claims of discrimination by rejected purchasers and the increase in shareholders and unit-owners demanding access to therapy pets for alleged depression.

Providing heat is one of the biggest expenses for your cooperative or condominium. In this second Teachable Moments column to look at condo and co-op boards' options for switching from fuel oil, three experienced property managers tell you much of what you need to think about when you're considering such a changeover. And some of it's not the conventional wisdom.

Local Law 84 of 2009 mandates that New York City buildings larger than 50,000 square feet must record and track their energy and water use, with the grades made public. This allow you to see how well your building is doing and how it compares with other buildings. But energy experts say there are still kinks to be worked out: The data is not always accurate and it's difficult to access.

No condominium or cooperative board wants to restrict its residents' ability to work with brokers they choose; indeed, some argue that this would be illegal restraint of trade. Yet some brokers are problematic, creating needless issues for boards to deal with, from selling apartments at cut-rate prices, lowering all residents' equity, to simply being a pest who bombards residents with unwanted e-mail. So what can a condo or co-op board do?

Defending your cooperative or condominium association in a lawsuit can be costly and time-consuming, and may hinder your board's ability to function effectively. Your condo or co-op board of directors is required to respond and defend the association in all lawsuits filed against it, regardless of the merits of the claims. Yet simply responding to a lawsuit and getting the court to dismiss it can cost the association thousands of dollars. For these reasons, all lawsuit should be taken seriously and avoided if possible. There a number of steps your board can take to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit, or minimize the damage should a suit be filed.

Q. At my co-op, we have a shareholder who is wreaking havoc in the building, making nasty statements to staff and residents alike and loitering in the lobby. She is quite unkempt, and we suspected that her apartment was unclean and cluttered. Then we had to enter the apartment to repair a leak and discovered our worst fears were true. We don't believe that we can ever get her under control. Is there some way we can kick her out?

EXCLUSIVE: Saparn Realty Executive Charged with Grand Larceny

Written by Carol Ott, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief on January 24, 2014

New York City

Alan Gorelick, executive vice president of Saparn Realty, a property management firm located in Manhattan, was arrested and charged with grand larceny on Jan. 16, 2014. As previously reported by, sources said a large co-op was missing a significant portion of its reserve fund account. That co-op was managed by Saparn.

To paraphrase J.D. Salinger, raise high the green roof, carpenters: New York State has just expanded and extended the duration of the property-tax abatement for buildings that install an environmentally friendly "green roof" — one with plant life that helps provide energy-saving insulation and other eco-benefits. Amending the original 2008 law, it doubles the previous maximum benefit of $100,000, adds new plant species to the list of those applicable for the tax break and allows new drainage and other structural provisions to make installation easier.

For the most part, the bill-paying process is a streamlined machine with dozens of employees working in the management office to make sure vendors' bills are processed and paid correctly. But with scores of co-op and condo apartment buildings and hundreds of vendors, there is always room for error. On occasion, a bill intended for one property is accidentally paid for by its neighbor with a similar street address. In these cases, property managers simply have one building reimburse the other. But when the wrong vendor is paid — perhaps a check went to Superior Cleaning instead of Superior Plumbing — the resolution is trickier.

Our co-op board's lawyer was dragging his feet. He had been with us for about four or five years, and although he is a sole practitioner, he had always seemed good for what we needed. He answered our questions in a no-nonsense fashion, drafted letters when we (infrequently) needed them, and handled closings (which is where he made most of his money off us, as his hourly rate was very low).

Yes, the small firm was for us. Our previous lawyers had all been with large firms, and although those relationships had started off well enough, they eventually went south —because of us, or the lawyers, or circumstances, I'll never know which.

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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