New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

NEW YORK CITY

When superstorm Sandy struck in October, she left co-op and condo buildings scrambling for light, water and heat. Damage control was key, solutions slow. Yet many building managers and condo / co-op boards found creative ways to meet challenges. Here are just two, centering on the critical issues of water and electricity in the aftermath of a disaster.

A 40-year-old cooperative had a 10 percent sublease fee in place for over 30 years. One new shareholder, now subleasing to a high-paying tenant, challenged the propriety of the sublease fee in court. Among other things, he claimed that the cooperative could impose a fee of that size only through an amendment to the proprietary lease, but that the lease had never been amended.

There is no way around it: When a building's elevator breaks down, residents complain. But when that elevator needs to be modernized — a capital project that can take an elevator out of commission for several weeks — a temporary inconvenience turns into a major problem. Co-op and condo boards have to invent creative ways to ease the pain. Some solutions cost money, making an already expensive project even more costly. But these particular ones do not.

So, what steps can a board take to reduce the inconvenience during an elevator upgrade?

If your co-op or condo board hasn't given it thought before, superstorm Sandy brought home the point with hurricane-force winds: Buildings need to have an emergency preparedness plan. It's not just about stocking up on flashlights or buying a generator — it's also about going over documents such as insurance policies so that you know what is and isn't covered, and taking steps to avoid not just physical disaster but financial disaster. Here are three overview steps that condo and co-op boards should consider above and beyond laying in supplies.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Affects Your Building's Retail Spaces

Written by Steven D. Sladkus, Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Jeffrey S. Reich on December 06, 2012

New York City

One cooperative association that we represent owns commercial space on the ground floor of its building, and fell victim to a serial lawsuit brought under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III of the ADA allows disabled individuals to file lawsuits against co-ops and condominiums, forcing them to alter entrances to their storefronts to make them handicapped-accessible. Though monetary damages are not available under Title III, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to recover their attorneys' fees. In recent years, a small group of ADA lawyers has capitalized on this by teaming up with a serial ADA plaintiff (one who is unquestionably disabled) and commencing hundreds of lawsuits based on technical or very minor ADA violations.

New Board Members' Common Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid them

Written by Amelia J. Adair on December 07, 2012

New York City

Many articles talk about how to handle the tough stuff that may come up during co-op or condo board meetings. But sometimes it's the easy stuff that can trip you up. Here's a handy list of  "rookie mistakes" — oversights that new or inexperienced condo / co-op board presidents or committee meeting chairs often make.  Keep this with you and you’ll be more confident and professional while you preside over your first meetings.

Each loan officer evaluates potential borrowers in his or her own way, giving more or less weight to individual parameters. And each lender has a loan appetite that's slightly different from that of its competitors. While these differences tend to be subtle, they can, at times, result in varied loan terms. One very important factor: your building's ownership profile.

A co-op board was being sued by a shareholder over possible mold in the shareholder's apartment. The shareholder had a daughter who, unfortunately, suffered from a terrible disease and was forced to use a wheelchair. The board members asked my advice; I suggested that they inspect the apartment for mold. They found mold, but not the dangerous kind. The shareholder's mold consultant disagreed, and the shareholder pressed the litigation vigorously.

The decision to pursue legal fees incurred by a board when a co-op shareholder or condo unit-owner defaults often becomes a larger problem and greater issue than the default that originally precipitated the lawsuit. Here are three cases that illustrate the point

Mold in Apartments: Why Boards Should Address It Quickly

Written by Marc H. Schneider on November 29, 2012

New York City

The board of a co-op our firm represents was advised by a shareholder that there was mold in the apartment. The board did not believe there was mold and believed the responsibility to repair any such mold and the other damages in the apartment was not the co-op's responsibility. Ultimately, since the co-op board was not responsive to the shareholder, the water damage worsened and the mold continued to grow. The shareholder ultimately filed a lawsuit against the co-op due to the board's  unresponsiveness.

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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

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