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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op claims victory, sort of, against Citi Bike, a condo owner will only accept Bitcoin and how hot is Long Island City? Plus, for condo and co-op boards, there's more on Intro 188, which would regulate co-op admissions more tightly, as well as a big fine against a condo's illegal hoteler and let's all have fun with quirky house rules!

We all want to feel safe in our own homes, and in a small co-op or condominium, any incident from theft of a bicycle to a personal confrontation can cause a major shift in perspective. For boards of small and midsize buildings without doormen, the first reaction is often to look at your security system, which encompasses front- and roof-door locks, intercoms, exterior lighting, keeping sight lines clear by trimming trees that could conceal someone lurking near the entrance, and moving mailboxes to the front of the building, where security is generally concentrated. But how do you do it affordably?

In December 2007, the original sponsor of 75 East End Avenue's 1974 co-op conversion sold Simon Elias and Izak Senbahar unsold shares representing 18 apartments. The proprietary lease states that unsold shares stay "unsold" until an actual occupant buys them. Because Elias and Senbahar did not purchase the shares for occupancy and never lived in the apartment, their shares remained "unsold." Selling these unsold shares required only the consent of the managing agent, but the co-op board also had a policy, the "financing rule," that said the board wouldn't consent to a sale if the buyer proposed to finance more than two-thirds of the purchase price. And therein came the hitch.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, Zeckendorf Towers goes smokeless, the folks at Alwyn Court and The Briarcliff go homeless, and thanks to 24-hour construction crews, a Rockaways co-op goes sleepless. Plus, three Lower East Side co-ops install fuel-efficient boilers to save money heating 2,700 apartments, Airbnb lobbies politicians to take the "illegal" out of illegal hoteling, and people debate the pros and cons of the proposed co-op admissions disclosure law.

Our bags were gone. 

My fiancé, Mike, and I had come home after having dinner at my parents' house. While he was parking, I took a few bags of groceries upstairs to our sixth-floor walk-up apartment and left a suitcase and another bag of groceries in the lobby for Mike to bring up when he came in.

But by the time he arrived — only a brief 10 minutes later — the bags had disappeared. After knocking on a few doors and finding that no one had seen or heard anything, we realized that our bags had been stolen — from our locked lobby!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Lots of news for boards in particular this week, as one co-op board sues the developer of One57 — the condo with the crane — and other boards face lawsuits against them because of superstorm Sandy. And it's board member vs. board member at The Bronx's Brady Court. Plus, a third of all homebuyers don't know what an "annual percentage rate" is. And while we'd bet that Ben Stiller (at left) does, he and his actress wife Christine Taylor still lost a million selling their co-op duplex on the Upper West Side.

In 2011, the Upper East Side co-op Tower East took a major step toward improving its energy efficiency. It had always used a master-meter to track electricity usage, dividing the electric charges among residents based on their shares. The problem with relying only on a master-meter is that, because they never see an electric bill, residents tend to waste electricity. By installing a meter in each unit, residents know what they use and, consequently, have to pay more if they forget to turn their lights off. So how do co-op and condo boards convince them to switch from master meter to submeters?

Having Trouble Passing a Referendum? Simplify, Simplify.

Written by Gilbert Kunken, President, 66 W. 94th Street and 689 Columbus Avenue on May 09, 2013

66 W. 94th Street, 689 Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side

The board of our 233-unit Manhattan co-op wanted to revise the bylaws in our proprietary lease. They had remained unchanged from the very beginning of our cooperative, 45 years ago. We also wanted to change the size of the co-op board, which was set at 13 members. That size can make it hard to operate; when you foster an environment that gives everybody the opportunity to speak, the more people you have at the table, the longer everything takes.

As well, we had trouble just getting enough candidates to fill the board, and felt its size was out of proportion to a building our size. We also wanted to put in board eligibility requirements; for instance, there were no requirements whatsoever about whether or not board members had to be in good financial standing. We felt very strongly that board members should not owe any money.

We took those ideas and many other changes before the shareholders for two years in a row, and we were coming up 15 or 20 votes short each year. Why?

An alleged break-in three years ago still lingers in the memories of the board members of the Coliseum Park Apartments, a cooperative just west of the Time Warner Center. Why only alleged? Because the shareholder had no evidence anyone had illegally entered. No security camera footage. No damaged furniture. Just a valuable stamp collection gone missing. That's one reason the co-op board ultimately chose to install a rigorous new key fob access system that would not only make the building more secure but also give doormen far-reaching oversight of who entered and exited.

Bob Bischoff wasn’t surprised when he heard the news: a significant portion of his building needed to be “skinned.”

If that sounds major, that’s because it is. Skinning is a labor-intensive, time-consuming procedure. The first layer brick is removed, and a layer of mortar is added, which creates a smooth surface. Then waterproofing is applied, and a new brick is installed. You don’t want to “re-skin” a building unless you absolutely have to.

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