New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

MANHATTAN

The case of the careless care dogs is moving forward — just without the board members.

In a New York Supreme Court decision filed Dec. 2 with the County Clerk, Judge Emily Jane Goodman ruled that a lawsuit by writer Liz Weston (not to be confused with the financial columnist Liz Pulliam Weston) against the tony co-op 14 Sutton Place South (above) could continue toward trial. But Goodman cut loose the seven board-members themselves, saying they were protected by the Business Judgment Rule.

So will Theo and Kodi have to keep using the service elevator? And how's Lola's injured tail doing?

It’s not the kind of information a board ever wants to receive — but it certainly doesn’t expect to receive it three years after the building was built. “After evidence of leaks, the board was compelled to hire an architect to study the conditions of the roofing and found that it was improperly installed by the developer,” says Jeff Heidings, president of Siren Management. “Typically, that’s what is first to go in new construction.”

Typical or not, the flaws made it crucial to replace everything. The previous roof had not had enough insulation, and the drains were improperly installed, causing ponding and saturation. In short, it was leaking into the top two floors.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Greenwich Village co-op board refuses to discuss why it's evicting a financially responsible doctor's family that's owned a Fifth Avenue co-op since 1985, and residents of Harlem's Riverbend co-op are asking why the board just re-upped a management company they say has let the place fall into disrepair. Plus, a co-op / condo insurance checklist, and when a building installs a noisy playground, apartments overlooking it are out luck.

Calling AT&T: Why have we been paying your electric bill for 18 years?

That's the question the condo board of The Leonori condominium — where residents include the actor Samuel L. Jackson and former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack — has put to the telecommunications giant after discovering the building has been paying to power the cell-phone towers on its roof all this time. Even more to the point, that's the question asked in the lawsuit that the condominium filed on July 18. The case is instructive for any condo or co-op board as a reminder to really look at your monthly bills.

One of the most important things co-op boards and condominium associations want from their property managers is new initiatives — ideas to help improve and upgrade your buildings, or to proactively solve problems. Fortunately, managers say that offering new ideas is a no-brainer — and a necessity if they want to be competitive with their colleagues.

Larry Weinstein has worked in a variety of fields, including electrical engineering, architecture and lighting design. A resident of the 422-unit Silver Towers cond-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, Weinstein was elected president of the board last summer. Even before that, he put his professional expertise to work, supervising a retrofit of some 500 common-area lighting fixtures. By reducing their wattage from 36 to 6, the building got a $25,000 rebate from Con Ed on top of $35,000 annual savings on electricity bills.

An exclusive Habitat co-op/condo board survey shows that co-op and condo boards seem to stick with their property-management firms. Slightly over 60 percent have been with their current firm six years or more; some 16.5 percent have been with the same firm for 11 to 15 years; and some 12.6 percent have had a more-than-21-year relationship.

But despite this longevity, 40.6 percent say the performance of their current managing agent is "subpar" or "needs improving." It's easy to see there's a difference between what boards accept and what boards expect.

In Bregman v. 111 Tenants Corp., Cornelia Sharpe Bregman alleged that in 1972 she was renting apartment 6C at 111 East 75th Street in Manhattan, which was converting the building to cooperative ownership. Because of an insufficient number of subscriptions to qualify for conversion, the sponsor asked her to purchase her apartment as well as penthouse Apartment 10A. Bregman says she entered into an agreement that gave her "full, unconditional, and perpetual sublet rights" to both apartments, because the sponsor recognized that she would have to sublet one or both.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents.

This week, a high-end co-op has a low-rent board, according to a lawsuit claiming it's avoiding responsibility for fecal-contaminated water coming from the tap. Yuck. Plus, a pit bull featured on Animal Planet bites a condo neighbor, and elsewhere a pit-bull owner defies a condominium's no-dogs rule without even bothering to make up a "therapy animal" claim. Queens, the home of last year's tax-protest movement, examines the just-renewed tax abatement, and what happens when your storage locker gets broken into? Plus: An infestation of artists, all over Co-op Village!

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week,it's a nail-biter as New York City and New York State play chicken over the technically expired property-tax abatement for co-ops and condos. Plus, private playgrounds are the hot new kid-friendly amenity and Alec Baldwin's new wife buys a condo ... right next to her husband's. Is that like his-and-her towels? For condo and co-op boards, we've no less than The New York Times says sic 'em when it comes to condo arrears. And here's how you break up with the nice, friendly volunteer who's not so great at the job.

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