New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




1.  Standardize your collection process

One of the easiest problems to avoid in collecting payments is the issue of selective enforcement. Condo and co-op boards sometimes give greater deference to owners they like or for whom they feel sympathy, and eagerly pursue owners they see as troublemakers.

Unfortunately, this approach creates two problems. First, it sets up a legal defense that the co-op / condo rules are not being applied uniformly. Second, it promotes the idea that if you have a good enough excuse and stay out of trouble, the board will let you slide on paying.

Condo and co-op boards are taking a variety of steps to address budgetary shortfalls. A survey by the Community Associations Institute finds that about half nationwide have increased common charges or monthly maintenance, and reduced contributions to reserve accounts. Many have deferred maintenance of common areas and postponed capital-improvement projects. And about a quarter or less have reduced professional costs or management fees, borrowed from their reserves or levied special assessments.

Given all that, here are some pro-active steps every co-op / condo board should consider.

In the bizarre world of the Department of Buildings bureaucracy, a phantom stop-work order can continue to exist even after it has been resolved. And woe to the co-op or condo board member who tries to get it removed.

A reader asks: For about a year, our co-op board has discussed refinancing our underlying mortgage. We almost did it about nine months ago when rates were pretty low, but one member of the board convinced everyone that rates would fall further. Our current loan comes due in about six months, and we need money for façade work in the spring, but this same board member still wants us to wait for lower rates. Do you think that rates will fall even more?

Depending upon the composition of a co-op or condominium's roof and its type of supporting deck type, there can be multiple reasons why a bad roof in need of repair does not leak. While there are numerous potential reasons, the most common are:

How Transparency Helped Implement Big Changes and Win Over Shareholders

Written by Bobby Sher, President, Bell Park Manor Terrace, Queens. One in an occasional series of real-life stories by board members about serving on co-op and condo boards. on March 01, 2012

Bell Park Manor Terrace, Queens, New York City

I took the criticisms to heart — and not just because I was president. I have lived in this cooperative for much of my life: After World War II, my father settled here in what was then known as the United Veterans Mutual Housing Company, run by New York State; it went private in 1990. Although I moved out when I was 17, I returned to live here some years later. After a successful career running a music / entertainment business, owning a video-production company and serving as a board member elsewhere, at the Floral Park co-op North Shore Towers, I think I know how to work with people and get things done.

Bullying is huge in the headlines lately. Lady Gaga is starting a foundation to fight the problem, the government's involved with and there are hundreds of recent news articles on the subject. Bullying is pervasive and infects every area of life. But what can co-op / condo residents and board members do about it?

You must first and foremost consider the shareholder's precise circumstances and thus the true motivation for making that proposal. If he has a loan secured by the apartment, he also probably cannot afford to pay that, and already might have attempted and failed to secure that lender's approval for a short sale. If that is the case, then in all likelihood the apartment cannot be sold under current market conditions for even close to the amount of the loan, let alone for any additional amount that the shareholder might want the co-op to pay.

On one level, the stock that you own in your co-op is no different from the stock that you might or could own in Google or Apple. Your co-op is a corporation probably governed under New York State Business Corporation Law (BCL), the very same law that governs most New York business corporations.

Also, the co-op stock that you own is, in some sense, publicly traded. The brokers in either case would broadcast the availability and terms of sale of such stock to the public at large (although they do so, of course, by very different means, with real estate brokers using property-listing sites and stock brokers using stock exchanges and the over-the-counter market).

Building Neighborly Ties with Co-op / Condo Holiday Activities

Written by Beth Brittingham on December 09, 2011

New York City

While co-op and condo boards choose to celebrate the holiday season in many different ways, the sense of community and camaraderie that results from coming together and helping others lasts all year long. Speaking as an experienced association manager, here are practical ideas that we've implemented successfully — as can you.

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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