New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



When a co-op board sells a unit that it's acquired by a rental apartment's vacancy, you must wear two hats: one as the seller and the other as the discerning board carefully reviewing a potential shareholder's financial dossier. Just because a board enters into a contract with a buyer doesn't mean the board has relinquished its right to reject the shareholder.

After two devastating North Atlantic storms in two years, heavily hit insurance companies are becoming increasingly cautious. What can co-op boards and condominium associations expect in the coming months in terms of rates and coverage? Habitat spoke with independent insurance broker Michael Spain, third-generation head of Long Island's Spain Agency, for his views on current trends.

Is it a matter of perspective? Or, in the end, does it matter if you see the other guy's point of view?

Those are the questions I pondered as the management executive talked with me about her relationship with a client as though it were a partnership made in Hell. "I've given up trying to reason with the boards," the executive said. "Now, I just do what I'm told — only drawing the line at illegalities."

Digital Accounting Tools for Boards and Managers: NexusPayables

Written by Sheryl Nance-Nash on September 10, 2013

New York City

As the treasurer of his co-op board, Andy Ashwal goes through a regular ritual with his managing agent: "She either e-mails me a stack of invoices that I have to print out and then review and sign, or she leaves me a package at the desk and I have to look through it and sign it. And if I have questions, I put a little sticky Post-it note on it and send it back to her. Then she e-mails me or calls me with the answers to the questions."

How quaint. How 20th century.

Directors and Officers Insurance Does Not Cover Intentional Discrimination

Written by Adam Leitman Bailey & Colin E. Kaufman on April 26, 2013

New York City

In New York, public policy is that you cannot be insured against intentional acts that bring about intended results, such punching someone, causing injury or purposely discriminating against a member of a protected class. One cannot profit from one's own wrongdoing and thus, for example, the well-known prohibition against killing one’s spouse and collecting the life-insurance proceeds. Insurance companies cannot pay a judgment against an insured for punitive damages.

The managing agent remembers it well. There had been an incident in a co-op she managed that caused some damage to the building. She advised the board that, based on her experience, it would not be to the property's advantage to file a claim with the insurance company. "It was not significant enough, and if we filed, it would raise our premiums," she says now. "I thought everyone was in agreement on that."

Everyone apparently was — except for The Board Member Who Knew Better. He took it upon himself to contact the insurance carrier himself and file a claim. When the manager and the rest of the co-op board heard about it, some heated words were exchanged — and the agent ended up calling the carrier and withdrawing the claim.


Aug. 29, 2013 — Monkey bars are an endangered species. So are seesaws, metal slides that turn into frying pans under the hot sun and hard asphalt that helped invent the phrase "skinned knees." In fact, old-fashioned playgrounds with all those things are passé. So what does a co-op or condo board do when it wants to create an outdoor play area for children or upgrade the one you've had since the '60s? It's not as simple as buying a swing set at Home Depot.

Or as cheap, since it's an investment in increasing your property's market value. And what with many new developments having them for just that reason, your co-op or condo might need to keep up.

Welcome to the next installment of "Teachable Moments," an occasional feature in which veteran property managers give you tips based on firsthand experience with issues facing condo and co-op board members. One of the most common: how to deal with the expense and sheer scope of exterior repair. Mostly, it's about how you pay for it. But it's also about developing a mindset where you take the long road and realize it's better to go the extra mile, so to speak, and do a job right the first time rather than patching it up, expensively, over and over.

For a recent hallway renovation at an Upper East Side co-op, the plan was to remove old wallpaper and replace worn carpeting. But in the process, remembers Marion Preston, former board treasurer of the 111-unit co-op, the previous board had ordered a huge supply of excess wallpaper and carpet. "They had extra of everything just in case, but no one ever used it or needed it," Preston says. "For our job, we had all-new material, so we obviously didn't need this anymore. I couldn't bear to just toss it out. It was still in its original packaging." So what to do?

Welcome to our third installment of "Teachable Moments," an occasional feature in which top management professionals offer practical perspectives on important topics for co-op and condo board members. This time around, three industry veterans tell you in a paragraph each how they handled tricky issues involving co-op shareholders' monthly maintenance — specifically, on the need for modest annual increases, and how to overcome operational deficits and sponsors who leave you in the lurch.

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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