New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Are New York City elevator inspectors being arbitrary in finding violations, or is something even more troublesome going on?

"My super will say, 'The [elevator]inspector was here today,' and we go through the process with our service company to get costs on fixing the violations and deciding how to do this most cost-effectively," says Grant Varga, a longtime board member at the 13-story prewar co-op 12 West 67th Street, near Central Park. "Then, a couple of months later, a different inspector will come here and we get more violations. Why didn't the first inspector catch what the second one called violations?" he asks.

Veteran managing agent Gerard J. Picaso, president of Gerard J.Picaso Inc., who is unaffiliated with Varga's building, has had the same experience. "You do the work, and then another inspector says, 'Here's a bunch of other stuff that's wrong.' You go, 'Wait a minute. We just fixed a bunch of things.' But another guy looks at it from a different angle and you're back to doing more work."

"If your equipment is really old, replacing your cables and other mechanical stuff can costs $20,000 to $30,000," observes explains Ken Breglio, president of the maintenance firm BP Elevator, "and yet the elevator will run the same, because fixing safety issues doesn't enhance the ride. Why? Because the controls are old."

And co-op / condo boards and residents don't always get that. Compounding that communication issue is the fact that the city's revised elevator regulations don't have grandfather provision for existing elevators — elevators that complied perfectly well with the law at the time they were installed.

These mandated upgrades are technically repair or maintenance issues, notes Gerard J. Picaso, president of Gerard J.Picaso Inc., a management firm. That means, for instance, that when an inspector says some newly mandated component has to be installed in what's been a perfectly safe, working elevator, the building's elevator-company contract doesn't cover that improvement.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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