New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Utter the word "hoarder" to any New York City property manager or co-op / condo board and you're likely to hear the story about the resident who wouldn't stop collecting newspapers, trash or cats.

Dealing with these troubled residents — and make no mistake, we're talking about a mental illness over which they have little if any control; it's not just some eccentricity — can cost a building thousands of dollars in legal and cleaning fees and take years to resolve. The first step to dealing with it is to understand as best as possible the very specific nature of hoarders and hoarding.

The controlling documents of most co-ops and condominium associations outline the requirement for the preparation of your financial statements. In addition, several states have minimum financial statement requirements. It's important for boards to understand that there are different levels to what a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) reports. Here's a primer for condo and co-op board members.

The standard co-op proprietary lease provides: "Any consent to subletting may be subject to such conditions as the Directors... may impose. There shall be no limitation on the right of Directors... to grant or withhold consent, for any reason or for no reason, to a subletting." This means a co-op board can adopt a new sublet policy without shareholder approval. That ranges from limiting sublets to a certain amount of years during a longer span to barring it outright. It also includes imposing sublet fees.

But can a board adopt different sublet rules for existing and new shareholders?

Sure, your doorman probably isn't gossiping about the people you're dating. And sure, that fellow co-op board member who wants you out isn't looking through security-camera footage to prove you're not cleaning up after your dog. And, surely, you as a parent aren't going to ask your board or management to let you see electronic key-fob data and confirm what time your teenager came home.

Except … what's to stop you?

For some small buildings, such as my own 22-unit Manhattan co-op, it may not always be cost-effective or affordable to have a full-time superintendent. In such cases, a part-time super fits the bill. Yet while finding a full-timer is relatively easy, where does a co-op or condo board go to find a part-time super — one who may already be a full-timer somewhere else, or who may be a part-timer at one or two buildings already?

The co-op board was complaining about the superintendent. "He sends us bills for everything he does," said the treasurer. "He paints the hallways, we get a bill. He repairs the burner, we get a bill. He fixes plumbing in the walls, we get a bill. What are we paying him for? Cleaning up the hallways and common areas?"

I listened carefully to the duties enumerated by my colleague on the board and thought, "That's an awful lot of work to do for the pittance we pay him."

New York State's Cooperative and Condominium Tax Abatement Program was enacted in 1998 and renewed regularly in an attempt to equalize property taxes owed by apartment dwellers and house owners. It recently was extended to 2015 with some notable revisions to be phased in. Among them, non-owner-occupied apartments — including those held in trust or by limited liability companies (LLCs) are being excluded from the abatement program. And unfortunately, believe many experts believe the New York City's Department of Finance (DoF) has misidentified many innocent residents as non-owner-occupiers — with financially disruptive, if not downright devastating, results.

If you've lived in a cooperative or condominium during the past 15 years and the proper forms were filled out, chances are you've been getting a tax abatement on your apartment. The Cooperative and Condominium Tax Abatement Program is responsible for that, giving tax abatements to Residential Class 2 properties — that is, condos or co-ops with more than three units. Any apartment in a Class 2 building is eligible, except units receiving any other type of abatement; sponsor units; units that are used for non-residential purposes; and units owned by someone who owns three or more units in the same building.

The abatement was the result of state legislation, first passed into law in 1998 and renewed regularly ever since. It was originally enacted as a temporary measure to compensate for the discrepancy between the taxes on single-family homes and the much higher taxes on co-op and condo apartments in multi-unit buildings. This fall, there was some delay in renewing the law, but the legislators eventually came through, extending it to June 30, 2015.

A good thing, right? Well, yes and no.

How to Tame a Rogue Co-op or Condo Board Member

Written by Josh Milgrom on June 21, 2013

New York City

Have you ever dealt with a bullying or disruptive condo or co-op board member? This director can arise almost unsuspectingly, wreaking havoc on board meetings and threatening the effective and efficient business of your board. If left untamed, rogue board members can be damaging and destructive to a cooperative or a condominium association. How do you identify then and what can you do about them?

As a business researcher / strategist and former condo board member I have been active for years in my 500-plus-unit co-op, serving on finance and elevator committees and as research consultant to committees and board presidents on issues we all face as shareholders. I want to raise an issue of concern to many of our shareholders and to others in our form of housing: the disproportionate power wielded by holders of unsold shares, and the unequal application of the New York State Business Corporation Law, depending on when a co-op's bylaws became effective.

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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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