New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



After Your Energy-Benchmark Audit: The Improvements You'll Need to Make

Written by Stephen Varone & Peter Varsalona on January 31, 2013

New York City

New York City has four related laws designed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Known collectively as the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, they cover benchmarking of energy usage, a new energy conservation code, energy audits and retro-commissioning, and lighting retrofits and submetering. We've previous discussed what a benchmarking audit entails. Now we look at the types of building improvements that are typically necessary for co-op boards and condo associations to make.

An onsite gym has become standard in virtually all new developments, and many older buildings are retrofitting to include them. In two past articles we've looked at how real estate professionals value them, and at the standard steps co-op and condo boards take to make the decision and to make it a reality. Now we look at the final piece: security and insurance.

Space is the final frontier. And in New York, where every square foot is valuable, finding extra space that costs your co-op or condo little and earns income in the process is a worthy goal. An Upper East Side co-op, for instance, successfully added a second floor to an existing penthouse level. A Soho co-op added a penthouse level that turned the top-floor unit into a duplex. In both instances shareholders gained space and shares, and the co-ops now collect more in maintenance.

Where there's work, there are accidents. And where there are accidents, there are lawsuits. In one case, a contractor had insurance to cover himself while working on buildings six stories and lower. The problem? The building he was working on was eight stories. Elsewhere, a contractor was doing façade work — a risky job that carries a high insurance premium — but told his insurer he was a low-risk and low-premium-paying carpenter. In yet another case, a contractor had insurance but the policy specifically excluded accidents that happened because of construction activity.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we're still waiting for the New York State legislature to keep its commitment to renew the tax abatement that tries to equalize co-op / condo property taxes with those of single-family homes and townhouses. Plus, experts advise you on preparing your co-op admission package, on upping your credit score and on not rushing into a mortgage. For condo and co-op boards we've expert advise on the best and worst types of commercial tenants you can have in your building. And for Coen heads, we've word on Ethan's apartment

How to Enact Building-Wide Smoking Bans in Co-op and Condos

Written by Matthew J. Leeds on January 17, 2013

New York City

Over the past year, several co-op / condo board clients have joined an emerging trend of the many associations that are considering preemptive measures that would require across-the-board no smoking in the building, even inside homeowners' apartments. A total smoking ban requires examination of the building's governing documents, a search for the authority to act, and involvement of the shareholders to determine the extent of the ban.

Attorneys Answer Six More Questions Boards Have About Superstorm Sandy

Written by Adam Leitman Bailey, Leonard H. Ritz and Dov Treiman on January 15, 2013

New York City, New York State

In this second of two installments, leading real-estate attorneys answer more condo and co-op board members have been asking about what's expected of them and of shareholders / unit-owners in the terrible aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Post-Sandy: Three Attorneys' Plain-English Guide for Co-op & Condo Boards

Written by Adam Leitman Bailey, Leonard H. Ritz and Dov Treiman on January 15, 2013

New York City, New York State

In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, many condo and co-op board members have been facing unprecedented challenges, with little experience to guide them.  In the first of two installments today, three leading attorneys answer eight questions at the top of every affected board members' mind.

Politicians and others called today for FEMA grants to be made available to residential cooperatives, which the federal agency characterizes as a form of business and so ineligible for emergency housing help. Yet the statements specifically excluded condominium associations, and failed to make clear that co-op and condo residents already are eligible for grants.

An elevator modernization project generally takes six to eight weeks to complete. That means the elevator will be out of commission for the entire time – and that doesn't include the period when you are waiting for an inspection by the city. However, a building can shave two or three weeks off the timeline by requesting an expedited schedule. "If you can afford to pay the premium, do it. Even for buildings with multiple elevators, having to wait longer drives people crazy," says Bram Fierstein, president of Gramatan Management.

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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