New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

HABITAT

UPPER WEST SIDE

In a condo on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a resident's practice of renting his apartment to a string of transient visitors has the condo board concerned and even fearful. Given the state of the global economy, the demand for short-term accommodations in New York City isn't likely to slacken, with Europeans in particular flocking here to take advantage of the weak dollar and the bargains it affords on everything from clothes to computers. So what can a condo association — as opposed to a more strictly regulated co-op corporation — do to keep its the building from becoming a de facto hotel?

When a sponsor is in arrears to both a lender and a condominium, can the condominium get some of the money it is owed before the lender does? Usually, you can't — but the condo board at 455 Central Park West made some novel arguments that are worth knowing about.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Seriously? Mark Andermanis, board president of the subsidized Mitchell-Lama co-op East Midtown Plaza, jumps ahead of others to score a four-bedroom apartment — reserved for families of six, which, additionally, he does not have —  and when he won't budge, an alert shareholder sues him. But he gets to keep the primo place because the shareholder doesn't have standing to sue ... and while the co-op board, perhaps, could, here's the thing: He's the co-op board president! Does this sound proper or right to anyone ethical? The good guys do win one, though, when a developer who refused to fix a Long Island condominium complex is permanently barred from selling condos. That's something, at least.

And then there's another reason for condo and co/op boards to be wary of Airbnb....

In the immediacy of the moment during an apartment-house fire, people can panic. Timely information helps prevent panic. And so in the wake of high-profile high-rise fires, the question of how to get crucial fire information to building residents — whether through Internet- or phone-based systems or through what the industry calls "one-way communication" such as public-address systems in hallways or individual apartments — has become the New York City Council's next burning issue.

And unless that issue's addressed quickly, the desire to mandate life-saving communication paradoxically may cost lives.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This might be a first: A rich developer is suing shareholders at the City-subsidized, middle-income co-op Madison Park Apartments just for complaining about what they called shoddy construction and repairs, including leaks dating to 2002. Since one of the defendants is a 68-year-old retiree on Social Security, we're guessing developer Donald Capoccia of BFC partners isn't figuring on them mounting an expensive defense. Gag me with a lawsuit.

Plus, a Central Park West condominium extends balloting time for an anti-smoking vote. Should it have? City Council members rail at the Fed for delayed Sandy relief funds. And we've reverse-mortgage realities, Airbnb telling people not to hotel illegally, and how to compile a great co-op board package.

As a rule, co-op and condo boards achieve fiscal security through conservative strategies and long-range planning. But occasionally a dash of creativity can help.

That has been the experience of the co-op at 90 Riverside Drive, which enjoys an enviable financial profile with low maintenance and solid capital reserves. The shareholders have never been hit with an assessment. But as the co-op board got ready to refinance the mortgage, a round of mandatory Local Law 11 repairs came due in the summer of 2012, a year before the board's latest 10-year mortgage expired. Once the LL11 work began, unanticipated repairs and expenses arose. By the following summer, with the mortgage about to expire, some sort of interim backup financing became crucial for the co-op to cover the unanticipated bills.

I'd probably be dead right now. Maybe you, too.

That's because in all the years I've been writing about co-ops and condos, including fire-exit regulations and Fire Dept. inspections, I probably would have headed down the stairs at The Strand. That's what Daniel McClung did during the blaze at that W. 43rd Street condominium on Jan. 5. Knowing only that his building was on fire, he tried to escape from the 32nd floor — and ran headlong into smoke from the 20th that killed him.

But I mean — it's a fire. You're supposed to get out, right?

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a co-op board didn't want to let a diabetic senior with Parkinson's disease have air conditioners since, really, what's more important? Your life and health or your building's aesthetic profile? Elsewhere, a hedge-fund giant wants what he wants at his condo's pool — but can he fight the condo's moms and win? In Tribeca a gym is out, in Greenwich Village Philip Seymour Hoffman's last apartment is on sale, and in NoMad — yes, NoMad, that's a thing — there's a high-tech condo called Huys, pronounced "house." Plus, here's what'll happen at your own apartment huys if workers go on strike.

When the co-op board at 90 Riverside Drive in Manhattan got ready to refinance its mortgage in 2012, a round of Local Law 11 repairs came due — and once work began, the board found itself with a cash-flow problem when unanticipated repairs and expenses arose. So by the summer 2013, realizing the building needed a bridge loan, the board put out a request to shareholders, offering an interest rate significantly above that being offered by current money-market accounts.

May unit-owners transfer their condominium unit when to do so avoids foreclosure of that unit to pay a debt? 

Sofia Frankel owned a condominium apartment at 160 West 66th Street in Manhattan. She had been a broker at Goldman Sachs when Jeffrey and Lauren Sardis entrusted her with some $19 million to invest on their behalf. They remained clients when Frankel left to join Lehman Brothers but, by 2004, complained that she had fraudulently churned their accounts, causing them more than $9.5 million in losses. The Sardises began an arbitration against Frankel and Lehman, and about two weeks before Lehman filed for bankruptcy, the court awarded the Sardises $2.5 million, holding both Frankel and Lehman responsible.

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