New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

UPPER EAST SIDE

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. More trouble for those involved in illegal short-term rentals, with a major real-estate agent involved. Plus, advice for dealing with co-op board rejection, how to gracefully decline writing a recommendation letter, second-class citizenship at luxury condos, and co-op capers with beer heiress Daphne Guinness and Academy Award-nominee Jessica Chastain (at right). And for co-op / condo boards, we've analyses of Fletcher v. Dakota and of the easing of FHA condo rules.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, there's no bigger news for boards than of the legislative mess in Albany that will send co-op and condo property taxes sky-high unless Gov. Cuomo and company take action. On the Upper East Side, a co-op board sues a sponsor that won't let go even after 24 years, a doorman charges a management company with allowing racist rants, there's power from the sun in Sunset Park and much more.

Sponsor. An innocuous little two-syllable word. But in the roughhouse world of New York real estate, the sponsor — the party who creates a co-op or condo either by converting a rental building or erecting a new structure — is often seen as a villain. Sponsor, in the eyes of many co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners, is one very dirty little word. in part two of our three-part special report on sponsors retaining control past the deadlines set by law, we look at how owning even less than one-third of a co-op's apparent can thwart progress and change.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, one of the city's biggest landlords enacts one of the largest smoking bans in the country, with reverberations for co-ops and condos. A shareholder sues a co-op board over a newly blocked view. A veterans' loan-guarantee program, common throughout the country, gets no respect in New York. And married co-op and condo owners are taking in roommates,

In December 2007, the original sponsor of 75 East End Avenue's 1974 co-op conversion sold Simon Elias and Izak Senbahar unsold shares representing 18 apartments. The proprietary lease states that unsold shares stay "unsold" until an actual occupant buys them. Because Elias and Senbahar did not purchase the shares for occupancy and never lived in the apartment, their shares remained "unsold." Selling these unsold shares required only the consent of the managing agent, but the co-op board also had a policy, the "financing rule," that said the board wouldn't consent to a sale if the buyer proposed to finance more than two-thirds of the purchase price. And therein came the hitch.

In 2011, the Upper East Side co-op Tower East took a major step toward improving its energy efficiency. It had always used a master-meter to track electricity usage, dividing the electric charges among residents based on their shares. The problem with relying only on a master-meter is that, because they never see an electric bill, residents tend to waste electricity. By installing a meter in each unit, residents know what they use and, consequently, have to pay more if they forget to turn their lights off. So how do co-op and condo boards convince them to switch from master meter to submeters?

A major challenge when submetering a building is that workers must get access to each apartment. If crews have trouble doing that, it can delay the entire process, adding to the final cost. Installing submeters in 132 units, as was done at the Upper East Side co-op Tower East, can take two months, as resident schedules need to be accommodated and damage to paneling and walls might need to be repaired.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Brighton Beach condominium goes from lawsuits to protests over a public toilet its residents say is in the wrong place — blocking their ocean views. Plus, the noisy saga of 199 Bowery continues; a condo buyer who pulled out of a deal not only lost the deposit but owes $577,000 in legal fees; and looking to buy? Dont' overlook The Bronx! Plus, for condo and co-op boards, we've a Sandy-related lawsuit, a lawyer's thoughts on absentee ownership and more.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Quite the tabloid week this week, as police tell more about the Penn South embezzlement, as international money-laundering sends a Chelsea condominium apartment into auction, and as a suspect is arrested in a Co-op City killing. Plus, a bathroom may block views, a "maintenance-free" co-op and are Manhattan apartment prices up or down?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. Yet another restaurant, yet another building fighting it: Like the planned Denny's in FiDi and a still-unnamed Mexican place in Tribeca, the Atlantic Terrace co-op in Brooklyn (left) wants to say arrivederci to Tony Roma's. Plus, a shareholder's riled in Riverdale and we remember the Rembrandt, New York City's first co-op. And co-op / condo boards won't want to miss the lawsuit alleging a scam of Weekend at Bernie's proportions!

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