New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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J-51 may be the nicest letter-number combination in all of New York City's co-op and condominium tax statutes: a property-tax exemption and abatement for renovating your apartment building. But what happens when the Department of Finance miscalculates and gives you more than you're due? You have to pay it back with interest, right? Not necessarily. Here's how a co-op in Brooklyn managed to keep an extra $153,000.

In February, a 105-unit condominium near Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn saw its insurance premium spike by 30 percent to $44,000. A 148-unit condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan watched its bill jump 10 percent, to nearly $72,000. And a doorman co-op in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, recently swallowed a 9 percent premium increase. Condos and co-ops across New York City are bracing for an expensive insurance market, as insurers raise rates for the first time in years.

No building seems immune. Even co-ops and condos that are fully insured and haven't filed claims are watching their rates jump by as much as 9 percent and their deductible limits rising. Other buildings are discovering that their carrier simply won't cover them anymore.

It may be scant comfort to know that almost all small co-ops encounter this problem. One reason comes from the lender's perspective. It takes the same amount of work, and sometimes more, to do a small loan as it does to do a big one. As loan size drops, it begins to make no economic sense to do a deal. This is especially true for large lenders.

March 22, 2010 — A New York City sales-tax break that helped to make electricity more affordable is going away August 1. That's when customers of independent ESCOs — energy service companies — will have to pay the same 4.5 percent sales tax on the delivery side of your utility bill that Con Ed customers already pay. That's on top of the 4.5 percent city we currently pay on the supply side of both ESCO and Con Ed bills.

How much will it cost co-ops and condos? For one large co-op — Amalgamated Warbasse Houses in Brooklyn, a five-building, 2,585-unit co-op that went with an ESCO in 2007 — the additional taxes total an estimated $320,000 a year. If you want to do the math for your own building, that's an average of an additional $124 an apartment.

Set on a quiet street opposite Sunset Park in Brooklyn, the 1920s vintage Sun Garden Homes, a 70-unit, working-class co-op, installed a photovoltaic solar-power system in November on its sprawling, 12,500-square-foot roof. We've written about how the co-op board came to the decision to go solar, a move expected to save 30 percent on energy costs. The next step: How do condo and co-op boards pay for it?

The view from the roof of Sun Garden Homes, a 70-unit co-op in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, includes unobstructed sights of Green-Wood Cemetery, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. But it is the roof itself that is the most remarkable: It is covered in solar panels. Sun Garden Homes installed the 50-kilowatt photovoltaic system in November, the first step in a long-term plan to reduce the building's energy usage dramatically. The building plans to overhaul its metering system, insulate and repaint its roof, improve boiler controls, and upgrade lighting, windows and toilets. The co-op anticipates the property's energy usage will drop by 30 percent from the solar and metering project alone.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

Co-op Nightmare: A Treasurer Reveals How His Board Saved a Building

Written by Paul Hachmeyer, Board Treasurer, 7201 Owners Corp., Brooklyn on February 14, 2013

7201 Fourth Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

When someone brings up continuing education, we may think of going back to school and taking a class on something outside our career — maybe photography, or cooking. For a real education and experience, become a co-op or condo board member. I can't begin to say how much I've learned over my 20 years as co-op board treasurer at an 86-unit building in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. But I'll try to describe some of the issues and solutions.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, schools rent space in a co-op and a condo, easing those buildings' upkeep costs, and a lawsuit at a Midtown East co-op says a family has turned a hallway into their personal playroom. Plus, advice on co-op admissions interviews, how to increase your apartment's value, and Nets star Deron Williams bounces into a new condo.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, politicians continue to promise tax abatement. Still haven't passed it yet, though. Plus, an upscale Brooklyn condo forbids smoking in apartments, gardening space is the newest amenity and fans make pilgrimage to The Odd Couple's co-op apartment building in the wake of Jack Klugman's death. Your co-op apartment building should be so revered, bubala.

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