New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Rising costs are putting the squeeze on co-op and condo residents across the city.

Far-sighted board took action before the Climate Mobilization Act was passed.

Co-op and condo boards have until June 15 to schedule a city inspection.

Shareholders have a right to know the details of a crime in the building.

When Insurance Doesn't Insure

Written by Tom Soter on March 23, 2016

Hudson Heights

Read the fine print on your liability policy. It may not cover you.

Mandy Braun remembers the winter months both outside and inside her apartment. "Our windows were 30 years old and we had cold drafts coming in," says Braun, vice president of Cabrini Terrace, a 16-story post-war cooperative at 900 West 190th Street in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan. "We were doing Local Law 11 work and could see erosion around some windows. For environmental reasons — heat and conservation — we knew it was time to replace them."

Braun is not alone. With contractors arranging their spring jobs now, many co-ops and condos are planning the "second phase" of window replacement. Three decades ago, many newly converted buildings took the plunge and replaced their windows. 

Mortgages almost always come with prepayment penalties. Otherwise, borrowers and lenders would both be at the mercy of each others’ whims, borrowers cashing in when rates are low, or lenders demanding repayment when they are high. Sometimes, however, interest rates are so low that the prepayment penalty is very small when compared to future savings. That’s when you want to refinance. Castle Village, for example, made the hard choice and came out ahead.

Updated 3:20 p.m. — A federal appeals court has granted a victory to shareholders of the Castle Village co-op in Manhattan, reversing a lower court's ruling that had disallowed residents from claiming assessments as tax-deductible casualty losses following a 2005 landslide that had devastated the property. The ruling has far-reaching implications for co-ops that suffer catastrophic damage to common areas, and subsequently level shareholder assessments for rebuilding, 

A five-year capital plan is an important tool co-op boards and condominium associations need in order to move their building forward in a cohesive, strategic way that optimizes the resources at hand. Trouble is, once you put something in writing, your shareholders and unit-owners don't always understand that real life sometimes gets in the way: The economy plunges, and banks won't give you the loan you need; you want to install a gym, but heavy snow and unseen longtime damage makes your garage roof cave in. You know how it goes. So with residents ready to pounce, should you share the plan with the shareholders/unit-owners?

Oct. 13, 2011 Paul Backalenick has been the president at 24-42 Bennett Avenue, a 56-unit cooperative in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan, for three years. Replacing an autocratic, unpopular chief executive, Backalenick brought an easygoing style, seeking out consensus, not confrontation. He has had great success in changing the tone of the talk – and in accomplishing a major capital improvement project involving the roof.

Backalenick sat down over breakfast with Habitat's editorial director, Tom Soter, to talk about life in this co-op. 

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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