New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op gets rid of a Citi Bike station — and we learn a co-op board elsewhere has banned shareholders from having bikes. A Bronx co-op owner tells a board horror story — and a board member asks how to get rid of a bullying board president. But on the positive side, Co-op City gets energy-efficient lighting — and Madonna's cut the price of her Harperley Hall co-op; now it's just $19.995 million!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, winds of change sweep New York City as Hurricane Sandy strands seniors and clobbers cars. Plus, advise on filing your insurance claims, a heads-up on changes to real estate advertising, and do you want to buy Celeste Holm's home? For condo and co-op boards, the lawsuit against The Dakota's board takes a turn, secret-identity sales increase and we give some options to help counter illegal renting.

The current discrimination lawsuit against the famed Dakota Apartments co-op by African-American investment executive Alphonse Fletcher Jr. sent chills down co-op and condo board members' spines last July. That's when the judge in the case overturned one of the bedrock decisions in New York co-op law, Pelton v. 77 Park Ave. Condominium (2006), which largely protected board members from personal liability in discrimination cases. "[T]he participation of an individual director in a corporation's [wrongful act] is sufficient to give rise to individual liability," the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court wrote in July. But, really, what's the worst that could happen?

Ask Nick Biondi — who is personally out well over $100,000 plus legal fees.

When the news broke, it sent a shiver of dread through every one of the 40,000 unpaid volunteers who serve on co-op and condo boards in New York City. At one of the poshest co-ops in town — the Dakota Apartments at 1 W. 72nd Street and Central Park West, where Leonard Bernstein lived and John Lennon died — a longtime shareholder was suing two board members and the corporation for racial discrimination. Alphonse Fletcher Jr., an African-American who owns the Fletcher Asset Management investment firm, was seeking $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

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,

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