New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week's riddle: In a no-dog building is a pet pig livestock? Plus, the federal Interstate Land Sales Full-Disclosure Act (ILSA) takes a homeowner-protection hit, we tell you where can you buy a co-op apartment for just $250 to $1,800, and The Rushmore condominium swears it meant to be finished by 2009 and that 2008 promise? Just a typo! And for co-op and condo boards, we have news about collecting monthly charges in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

 

For the middle-class cooperative in White Plains, N.Y., the complaint started with bugs. When several shareholders called the super to complain about cockroaches in their usually well-maintained building, he called an exterminator — and when the two entered the apartment of an elderly shareholder, they realized they had a bigger problem on their hands: She had accumulated masses of garbage and seemed unable or unwilling to rid herself of the debris. At that point, it becomes a building-wide issue, and the board's responsibility to correct.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, we pick up the pieces from Hurricane Sandy, with timely advice from insurers, property mangers and others, along with a sneak peek at an e-mail exchange among some condo owners in Lower Manhattan. Plus, a former doorman tells how incredibly cheap the billionaires are at 740 Park Avenue, and a free-speech case goes to court.

In June 2010, the board of the Upper East Side condominium The Leonori pulled the trigger to make the switch from oil heat to natural gas. Your condo association or co-op board may be contemplating the same thing, what with New York City phasing out the two dirtiest heating oils, Nos. 4 and 6. So what can you expect when the workers come in to do the actual, physical switch? Here's what.

With natural gas prices falling and the city phasing out two of the dirtiest heating oils, Nos. 4 and 6, buildings are rushing to switch to natural gas. But switching is not simple. It requires coordination among various city agencies, private contractors and Con Ed. With requests up by 400 percent within the last three years, according to Con Ed, the system is overloaded. In 2010, Con Ed received 400 requests to convert. In the first half of 2012, it has received 1,200.

Should your co-op or condo approve such a switch? What are the factors to consider? What are the potential benefits — and the potential pitfalls? The story of how the condo board of The Leonori made the changeover can help other condo / co-op boards looking for a roadmap of how to make the decision.

As Stephen Budow sees it, there are two kinds of people in this world. One believes a person's home is his or her castle, sacred and inviolable. The other believes the health, comfort, and safety of a person's neighbors are far more important than the sanctity of any castle. Budow, an attorney who has spent the past decade as president of a 65-unit Yorkville condo, used to be the former type. But that began to change about three years ago.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, condo-owners don't want a visit from St. Vincent, the ex-wife of the Intuit software chairman loses out in a co-op sale, and the government wants home appraisals to be more transparent. And co-op board members can see one of their own taking the next step and running for office.

Our story begins at an 1120 Park Avenue penthouse, in a co-op between West 95th and 96th Streets. Craig and Deborah Cogut had bought triplex apartment 16PHB in in August 2006. Two months later they informed the managing agent, Brown Harris Stevens, that they wanted to renovate. Their architect, Darius Toraby, submitted plans that met with approval from the co-op's retained professional, Walter B. Melvin Architects, and after that from the board.

It’s not the kind of information a board ever wants to receive — but it certainly doesn’t expect to receive it three years after the building was built. “After evidence of leaks, the board was compelled to hire an architect to study the conditions of the roofing and found that it was improperly installed by the developer,” says Jeff Heidings, president of Siren Management. “Typically, that’s what is first to go in new construction.”

Typical or not, the flaws made it crucial to replace everything. The previous roof had not had enough insulation, and the drains were improperly installed, causing ponding and saturation. In short, it was leaking into the top two floors.

In the world of co-op and condo amenities, the midtown condominium The Sheffield has just served up a tasty new dish on a platter: a restaurant partnership entitling residents to a host of perks at eateries owned by the David Burke Group — at no extra cost to the buildings homeowners.

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