New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine June 2020 free digital issue

HABITAT

EAST RIVER HOUSING

The East River Housing co-op on the Lower East Side remains embroiled in a federal lawsuit involving three shareholders' claims that a dog brought into the no-pet complex was a medical necessity for mental-health issues. As previously covered by Habitat, New York housing courts — generally tenant-friendly — and appeals courts all consistently ruled against the shareholders, finding their requests for disability accommodation to be dubious. The courts, as also covered in Habitat, are aware that scammers have misused disability anti-discrimination laws simply because they want a dog. Here, two of the disability claims came only after the dog was discovered — and a doctor withdrew his support for the third.

Yet after losing in the courts, the shareholders, as The New York Times recently followed up, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is now suing the co-op on their behalf. Speaking for beleaguered boards all over, East River's attorney told the paper, “The board has no problem accommodating pets. The problem is with people trying to sneak in their animals and then thinking they can pull a fast one when they get caught.”

Manhattan's East River Housing has been awarded $30,087.29 in legal fees from a shareholder who sued the cooperative after the board ordered the removal of dog he'd kept in violation of a no-pet policy — and despite the shareholder's after-the-fact claim of disability.

 

Harold "Heshey" Jacob, longtime property manger of the sister co-ops Hillman Houses and East River Housing, knew in 2009 that sludgy and sooty No. 6 heating oil was on its way out. With the help of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who lives in Hillman, he convinced the co-op boards of the 2,500 -unit, seven-building complex to switch to dual-fuel systems using cleaner No. 2 oil and, mainly, natural gas. It was a big, big switch. How did he manage to convince not one but three boards to go that route?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we learn that property taxes are going up. That's news? It is when the jump will be 5.5 percent for co-ops and 7.4 percent for condos (per the New York Post) or 7.5 percent for co-ops and 9.6 percent for condos (per The Wall Street Journal) — as opposed to just 3.8 percent for owners of single-family homes! Wait, don't single-family homes already get their assessed values capped at 2 percent each year, while there's no cap on how high co-op and condo valuations can rise? Plus: We've board members who somehow couldn't predict the headline "Deaf Grandfather Fights Condo Board to Keep Service Dog." And isn't all this is exactly the kind of stuff a new co-op / condo social-media site will let apartment-owners talk about amongst themselves?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, the battle over emotional-support dogs gets even more emotional at East River House, as the feds get into the act. Elsewhere, condo and co-op boards might want to partake of a new program teaching doormen to recognize and report elder abuse. And some in City Council push for property-tax rebates. Plus, co-ops try to more like condos and vice-versa, a new affordable housing program will fill a long-empty condominium in The Bronx's Mount Hope neighborhood, and Ronan Farrow (pictured) may be your new Upper West Side neighbor.

Harold Jacob is the longtime property manger of the Hillman Houses and East River Housing, two of the four communities comprising the Lower East Side's Cooperative Village — colloquially called Co-op Village or "the Grand Street co-ops." He decided in 2009 that the time had come for Co-op Village to wean itself off the highly polluting No. 6 heating oil, ushering in a new era of energy efficiency, dramatically reducing pollution and lowering the energy consumption of the 2,500 apartments in the seven buildings he manages. Hillman and East River now each use a dual-fuel system that relies mainly on natural gas and can periodically switch to the cleaner No. 2 oil.

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.

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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

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