New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

MANHATTAN

As long as they are acting reasonably and are breaking no laws, board members of co-ops and condos are generally not personally liable for actions they take as part of that board, right? Well, yes…and no.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, following the Independence Day holiday, we look at neighborhoods on the rise in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Plus, an expert tells you about refinancing your co-op — and, for boards, another explains all about financing your super's apartment. And two TV / film notables sell their places: the late Celeste Holm's Central Park West abode gets bought, and The Simpsons' Hank Azaria, the voice of Apu, Moe, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy and more puts his Soho condo — Cindy Sherman's old place! — up for sale.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, there's no bigger news for boards than of the legislative mess in Albany that will send co-op and condo property taxes sky-high unless Gov. Cuomo and company take action. On the Upper East Side, a co-op board sues a sponsor that won't let go even after 24 years, a doorman charges a management company with allowing racist rants, there's power from the sun in Sunset Park and much more.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, gay, married co-op and condo owners are now among those getting equal protection under federal law. Plus, is there or isn't there a foreclosure auction at tony River House? And how much impact do maintenance fees have on the sale of a co-op? Plus: ThinkPad goes boom! Condo board goes to court!

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."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, one of the city's biggest landlords enacts one of the largest smoking bans in the country, with reverberations for co-ops and condos. A shareholder sues a co-op board over a newly blocked view. A veterans' loan-guarantee program, common throughout the country, gets no respect in New York. And married co-op and condo owners are taking in roommates,

The co-op board of our 118-unit building at 242 East 19th Street in Manhattan tried to change our bylaws for indemnification purposes one year and failed miserably. What we learned was that even though we think of ourselves as a tight-knit community, when it comes to the annual meeting, most  shareholders' agenda is usually to get out of the meeting as quickly as possible. They want to hear that their corporate structure is sound and that their investment and their shares in the co-op are increasing in value or at least holding their own. And so though we approached our shareholders with a tremendous amount of reasoning about why we wanted to be indemnified as a board, we did it at the annual meeting at the end of all of our regular business, and no one really wanted to sit around and listen or take part. We came up very, very short after the vote was taken.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, Airbnb brings financial support to the case of Nigel Warren, fined $2,400 for illegal hoteling. Read the company's justification for why landlords, co-ops and condos should allows streams of strangers to turn residential buildings into hotels. The best part? Airbnb writes this on the company's "public policy" blog — never once mentioning that overturning New York's illegal-hoteling restrictions would give its business explosive growth. Yep, they're just looking out for the little guy, that's all.

Plus, is a co-op board backing bullies in Park Slope? Sure seems that way from the photographs of a Yuppie's obscene hand gestures toward an 88-year-old woman, her 53-year-old daughter and the grandkids at 808 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. Plus, Judge Judy sells her co-op, and the condominium board of a landmarked building sues to keep a Denny's restaurant out of it.

... tiptoeing on tipping, fulminating on flooring and trying out Tribeca. And see why a broker says not to pay brokers ... directly.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, uncertainty still abounds after the Department of Finance makes a claim neither New York City nor New York State will confirm about the possible extension of a crucial property-tax abatement. Plus, a court forbids a Mitchell-Lama co-op to privatize, Madonna is selling one of her apartments and a Financial District condo board gets sued for its actions, or lack thereof, in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

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