New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community



Legal Case Notes: Can Boards Charge a Commercial Tenant a Sublet Fee?

Written by Richard Siegler and Dale J. Degenshein on July 30, 2013

136 Greene Street, SoHo, Manhattan

Co-op shareholder Thomas Campaniello owned the shares of a commercial unit at the cooperative at 136 Greene Street in Manhattan. In 2006, he signed a lease with the co-op board. Four years later, when he sought to sublease the space for $60,000 a month, the board refused to give consent unless he paid what his lawsuit called an "exorbitant sublet fee" of 10 percent of the monthly rent, based on a bylaw amendment that the board — not the residents — had adopted. Campaniello asserted he was forced to sign a written agreement consenting to pay the fee as well as $3,000 for the co-op board's legal costs, and was told if he didn't sign, he would have been denied permission to sublet.

The smell of oven gas. Every apartment-dweller dreads it. Even the faintest odor can trigger panic among residents who fear a leak will lead to sickness, costly repairs, weeks without heat and hot water or, worse, an explosion like the fatal one in East Harlem earlier this year.

As the city changes the way it copes with gas leaks — in June, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Fire Department will respond to all gas leaks first instead of the utility company — property managers say it's more important than ever to understand what happens when there's a report of a gas leak.

$1 million will buy you a pretty good, though hardly high-end, New York City co-op or condo ... or one parking space — because that's the price tag on each of the 10 being offered by the developer of the under-construction 42 Crosby Street condominium at the corner of Broome and Crosby in SoHo, reports The New York Times. The spaces — first come, first served for buyers in the 10-unit building — are bigger than a single lane, some as large as 200 square feet, each with storage space and a charging station for electric and hybrid cars. Technically, they're just being leased for 99 years, which means if you sell the condo you have to give up the space. A Tribeca sparking space sold for $345,459 last year, with the average being $136,052, the paper said.

It seems to be theme week this time around in Ronda Kaysen's "Ask Real Estate" column in The New York Times, with three items involving renters in a co-op or a condo. First up, a Murray Hill co-op board and its super won't provide proof that a rule no one told a departing renter about really exists. Next, a SoHo loft owner — which is a lot like a condo owner; just go with it — with a tenant needs to know just how far his repair obligations go in terms of precisely matching the paint in the loft below after a leak. Not sure why both the question and the answer refer to a "subtenant" rather than just a tenant, which is what the New York City Loft Board calls them, but whatever. Finally, a condominium sponsor and a condo board in the West Village appear to be at odds — stranding rent-stabilized tenants who need repairs done.

One day in February 2012, a fragment of stone façade chipped away from the two-building, 14-unit condo at 42-50 Wooster Street. "The previous winter had been very cold, and this little piece — maybe two inches wide — fell down," says Liz Sabosik of The Andrews Organization, the condominium's property manager. "It must have taken on a little water, frozen and popped off. So we immediately set up a sidewalk shed and started interviewing architects."

While the main problem was dealing with damage as a result of shifting buildings, the board seized the opportunity to take on some proactive work. Board members realized they could save money in the long run by piggybacking onto this main project the smaller projects that would eventually need to be completed.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, is Howard Beach, Queens, co-op board vice president Ellen Di Stefano Buonpastore one of the most foulmouthed in New York City? We can't say, but Howard Thompson of WPIX's "Help Me Howard" segment has a report about her, stranded seniors and an elevator repair that will astonish you. Plus, what happened to the super at The Plaza's condominiums? What's the latest in the ongoing saga of the Brighton Beach boardwalk bathrooms? Did you know boards can help resolve disputes through free mediation? And where is Mad Men man Jon Hamm hanging his hat?

Called the “Father of Soho,” Lithuanian-born American artist George Maciunas was a visionary. In the late 1960s, he stopped the city from running a highway through (and razing) the neighborhood south of Manhattan’s Houston Street by buying dilapidated loft buildings, converting them to co-ops, and then selling them as places where artists could live and work.

Now, one of those buildings — a loft co-op at 537 Broadway — has gotten a major facelift. And just in time, too.

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, Airbnb brings financial support to the case of Nigel Warren, fined $2,400 for illegal hoteling. Read the company's justification for why landlords, co-ops and condos should allows streams of strangers to turn residential buildings into hotels. The best part? Airbnb writes this on the company's "public policy" blog — never once mentioning that overturning New York's illegal-hoteling restrictions would give its business explosive growth. Yep, they're just looking out for the little guy, that's all.

Plus, is a co-op board backing bullies in Park Slope? Sure seems that way from the photographs of a Yuppie's obscene hand gestures toward an 88-year-old woman, her 53-year-old daughter and the grandkids at 808 8th Avenue in Brooklyn. Plus, Judge Judy sells her co-op, and the condominium board of a landmarked building sues to keep a Denny's restaurant out of it.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op claims victory, sort of, against Citi Bike, a condo owner will only accept Bitcoin and how hot is Long Island City? Plus, for condo and co-op boards, there's more on Intro 188, which would regulate co-op admissions more tightly, as well as a big fine against a condo's illegal hoteler and let's all have fun with quirky house rules!

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