New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Just when you think you've heard every claim a New York City shareholder can make against a co-op board, along comes a shareholder who makes an allegation so out of left field, it's not even from the Yankees' or the Mets' left field but from the left field of, I dunno, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. 

The claim? That a co-op employee owed him a fiduciary duty to take his side in a dispute ... because they were sleeping together.

At the co-op 1107 Fifth Avenue, an apartment that was once the city's largest has been sold to hedge-fund honcho Mark Kingdon, founder of Kingdon Capital Management, for $30.9 million, reports the New York Daily News. And this marks the end of a circuitous journey for the 10-room penthouse with a wraparound terrace, which Peruvian billionaire Carlos Rodriguez Pastor had previously wanted to buy. So did the co-op board's president, Maureen Klinsky. She bid $21 million, Pastor bid $27.5 million, and the board naturally accepted Pastor's higher offer. Which then begs the question of who was behind the board suddenly deciding it was going to build a shared roof deck for all the shareholders — accessible only by the penthouse terrace? And then shifting gears and deciding it was going to do repairs that would limit an owner's access to the terrace? Pastor sued and withdrew his bid — though Klinksy still didn't get to guy it. As Curbed.com has written of all this: "Co-ops: They're just like high school except nobody graduates unless they die."

As even disability-rights advocates like Service Dog Central point out, case law relating to the federal Fair Housing Act allows even a bona fide service animal to be removed from an apartment building "if the presence of the animal causes a fundamental alteration of the goods and services offered to other tenants. For example, a dog that nuisance barks keeping neighbors awake at night...." Yet as the New York Daily News reports, a family at an East 86th Street co-op is suing the board in order to keep a support dog that the board's attorney says is a barking nuisance — with the family rebuffing requests to train the dog to diminish barking or to soundproof the apartment. Harriet Woodard says her 32-year-old daughter Elizabeth suffers from mast cell activation syndrome, and her dog Olivia instinctively alerts her to trigger foods or to lie down when her blood pressure is about to spike. All well and good. Still doesn't explain the family's selfish refusal to soundproof.

With Residents Away, the Board Will Play, To Get the Right Size Water Heater

Written by Meave Gallagher, with reporting by Tom Soter on September 10, 2014

York River House, 1175 York Avenue, Upper East Side

Credit Ira Meister, president of Matthew Adam Properties, with a "brilliant" idea. That's what Jacqueline Stein, board secretary at York River House, a 225-unit Upper East Side building he manages, calls his method to save dollars.

As part of a renovation to switch from No. 6 oil to dual-fuel boilers for heating, the York River House also wanted to install new, high-efficiency hot water heaters and storage tanks — a common project for a green-thinking building. But the cooperative's approach was anything but typical. "Ira figured out that we should really see who was gone over the summer," says Stein.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Can we talk? I mean, what kind of world is it where a comedy icon who personally takes on the work of being condo-board president has to deal with some broad who's $200,000 in arrears and throwing insults like Don Rickles in drag? Oh, please. Elsewhere, some condo boards want to act like co-op boards when it comes to admissions. And there's a twist in the Dakota Apartments discrimination case. For boards, we've news on a big battle in the New York Attorney General's fight against illegal hoteling, and watch out! There are toilets exploding in Brooklyn! Actually, it's not funny — one co-op shareholder needed 30 stitches. Still, it's kind of funny. But not really.

Joan Rivers' tragic and untimely death not only deprived the world of a comic genius but also — can we talk? — a condo board president. And she surely would have liked to have known that her and her board's long-running battle with eccentric resident Elizabeth Hazan, who owed $200,000 in arrears, has ended. The story has more twists than a European road — Hazan had signed her apartment at The Spencer over to a Belize-based corporation, a judge in November forbade her access to the place, and much more went on — and the insults got extremely personal on both sides. But the day of Rivers' death, just before she passed, the New York Daily News reported that her board and Hazan reached a settlement after three hours of negotiation before a judge. It's nice to think of Joan, out there somewhere, having the last laugh.

It was Michael Wolfe's first co-op. The 30-unit property at 1107 Fifth Avenue on East 92nd Street impressed the young manager. "I remember walking into the building. I had always lived in a private home, and I couldn't believe that apartments could be so big. There was a grand lobby, with a doorman and staff. It even had manned elevators. I thought they gave it that classy hotel, classy building feel."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board takes away a parking space from a little old lady with Parkinson's, saying her car's insurance and registration had lapsed — they hadn't — and that the car didn't run ... so they took away the spot while the car was in the garage to, y'know, run. Doesn't sound like the board's running on all cylinders, either. Same might be said on Fifth Avenue, where a co-op board president who lost a bid for an apartment in her building allegedly decided no one else could buy it, either. Plus, Patrick Stewart makes it so with a condo buy in Brooklyn.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a condominium board sues its developer. a co-op buyer sues a seller, and a co-op shareholder sues his neighbor. Plus, a lawyer sues his clients, whom he'd represented against a co-op board. Ah, springtime in New York!  We've also a co-op board trying to evict an agoraphobic transgender smoker, but hey, that could happen anywhere....

Frieda and Howard Dropkin, shareholders at The America co-op at 300 East 85th Street, owe $13,000 in maintenance-payment arrears, the co-op board alleged in a court case decided late last month. Given the arrears and a couple of related issues, the board had moved to evict the couple. But, as the New York Law Journal reports, Judge Jack Stoller wasn't having any of it once he found the board couldn't explain how it calculated any of its shareholders' maintenance charges, let alone the Dropkins'. He also rejected the board's argument that the calculations didn't matter since the "voluntary payment doctrine" would have established the maintenance charge, noting the Dropkins had paid different amounts each month. The board's attorney told the Law Journal it was reviewing the decision to determine how to proceed.

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