New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Discovering that your co-op or condo has a ground lease — a real-estate instrument in which your cooperative or condominium corporation owns the building but only leases the land, usually for periods of up to 99 years — can be unnerving. Why? Because you have to pay a monthly ground-rental fee atop your maintenance or common charges and because ground leases can be detrimental to sales: Lenders don't like to offer loans when the building has, say, less than 30 years left on a lease.


What do you do when your building doesn't own the land on which it sits? 

Yes, that's a thing — it's called a "ground lease," a real estate instrument in which a cooperative or a condominium corporation owns the building but only leases the land. Usually it's for long periods of up to 99 years, after which, theoretically, the landowner can tell the board to move the building elsewhere. And in the meantime, your monthly payments include ground rent.

They say a hard rain's gonna come. And so when the next Irene or Sandy inevitably storms into New York, downtown Manhattan buildings want to be prepared, reports This can involve a lot of things, from surveying residents, so that you know who might need special assistance to evacuate, to installing an emergency generator. And some are actively looking at deployable flood barriers. As Habitat has previously written, flood barriers aren't cheap — Liberty Terrace in Battery Park City is thinking about one that could cost $80,000, DNAInfo says. But when the alternative is displaced residents, no light or electricity, expensive restoration of ruined ground-floor and basement levels and dealing with the paperwork of insurance reimbursement and the like, it well might be worth it.

Ask the Experts

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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