New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Board 101: What Are the Duties of a Condo or Co-op Board Treasurer?

Written by Tom Soter and Bill Morris on September 18, 2012

New York City



Board 101: What Are the Duties of a Condo or Co-op Board President?

Written by Tom Soter and Bill Morris on September 13, 2012

New York City

For those serving on condo or co-op boards, some things are immutable and commonly agreed upon: The president is the head honcho, the big cheese, the first among equals. The treasurer follows the money and let's everyone know whether the maintenance goes up or down. And the secretary gets the facts.

Immutable they may be, but the same? Definitely not. For each officer has his or her own style of operating, from the consensus-builder to the autocrat, and those styles (in long-serving members) often mesh with the needs of the building. In the first of a series, "Board 101," we offer a look at the duties of these three positions and the differing approaches of three board officers each.

Vendor Contracts That Protect You: An Attorney's Three Simple Steps

Written by Steven J. Tinnelly on September 14, 2012

New York City

Every condo or co-op board will at some point hire a vendor to perform certain tasks or furnish services — possibly exposing the building to liability brought about by vendor actions and/or the terms of the vendor contracts. Boards of directors and managing agents must understand how to properly protect the building when hiring a vendor. Three issues are key to doing so: hiring properly licensed, bonded and insured vendors; the employment status of a vendor as an "independent contractor" or an "employee" of the co-op or condo; and the importance of having proposed vendor contracts reviewed by legal counsel prior to execution.

After leaving for the year then being called back to session by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State lawmakers announced an agreement late yesterday (July 5) that renews the co-op and condo property-tax abatement that had expired on June 30.

However, while the lower rates are expected to be retroactive to July 1, New York City "has issued tax bills for the current fiscal year based on the [higher] current tax abatement rates," Michael Whyland, a spokesperson for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said in a statement that did not address how the discrepancy will be handled.

An Architect and an Engineer Reveal: How Effective is Infrared Thermography?

Written by Stephen Varone, AIA & Peter Varsalona, PE on September 11, 2012

New York City

You don't have to tear up your co-op or condominium's walls or floors to detect such typical building problems as water penetration, plumbing blockages, overloaded electrical circuits or structural defects. Instead, co-op and condo boards can turn to infrared thermography, a diagnostic tool used by building staffs and outside professionals, which uses heat radiation to, essentially, see through walls.

In Graber vs. Sheridan, the apartment-owner petitioners sent a letter to the board of managers of Imperial Towers Condominium on Staten Island in February 2006, requesting an independent audit of the condominium. After months of discussion over the exact breadth and scope of documents to be provided, the audit was held on June 21, 2006. As a result of the board's alleged failure to provide all requested documentation, the audit was unable to be completed.

In March 2007, the petitioners began an action against the board members seeking an order to require full disclosure of all requested documents. The board members contended they had provided the apartment owners with all reasonable and available documents as required by law.

Roughly 80 percent of the reduced-tax offers that the New York City Tax Commission makes each year get accepted, "for many reasons," says commission president Glenn Newman. "Sometimes," he says forthrightly, "the taxpayer just wants to get quick relief: We finish [our reviews] within the year, but court proceedings can take five years or more."

The commission has its own many reasons for making these reduced-tax offers, since, as it puts it in its annual report, "A fair and efficient review process is essential to reducing costly litigation of assessment disputes … that might be further contested [in court], costing additional time and resources for taxpayers and the city."

With co-op boards and condo associations constantly on the lookout for money savings and energy conservation — which often amount to the same thing — many boards are wondering if they should install a relatively new technology known as "tankless" water heaters. What are they, and do they really provide energy savings?

Tankless water heaters work by heating water with either a gas burner or an electric element, and delivering water as a constant supply. Heat loss is effectively avoided because of the instantaneous nature of the system. But here comes problem No. 1: The flow rate of hot water can decrease as demand increases.

Indeed, tankless water heaters — which are being marketed to smaller co-ops and condos in addition to their primary user, owners of single-family homes — seem at first glance to be a big plus: They are, on average, 24 to 34 percent more efficient than traditional heaters. They require less energy and last twice as long as their more conventional counterparts. They can also run on electricity, gas, propane, or solar power.

How to Set a Practical and Fair Co-op Sublet or Condo Leasing Policy

Written by Tom Soter and Ruth Ford on August 07, 2012

New York City

Some co-op / condo boards are dead set against allowing subletting / leasing (and for simplicity's sake, we'll just use the verb "sublet" going forward). One factor is the "transients" issue. Many contend that a renter doesn't care as much as an owner because he or she doesn't have as much invested (both financially and emotionally) in the property. But there are other issues as well that have to be considered when creating a policy.

Looking to lower the cost of electricity? Create your own! You've heard of co-ops, condos and other types of buildings and communities doing it via technologies like solar or wind power. But there's a lesser-known alternative: Cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP). It's a natural-gas-fueled method of generating electricity for the building and creating heat that can be used to power the air-conditioning system, heat the domestic water, and heat the building in winter.

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

Source Guide

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