New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide

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You've seen the headlines, and they're grossly, irresponsibly inaccurate: "Condos and Co-ops Not Covered Under FEMA." Co-op shareholders and condo unit-owners are covered under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Only co-op and condo boards and common areas aren't. Why? Because FEMA's primarily aim is giving homeowners and renters alike temporary shelter and supplies after a disaster, and no one lives in a building's common-area hallways and lobbies.

Now that that's settled, what can condo and co-op boards do for funding to help restore their buildings after, oh, say superstorm Sandy? Here's what.

After the storm, after the surge, after the wind has died, after floodwaters recede, the finger-pointing inevitably begins. "We did not have flood insurance," says Dr. Janie Simmons, an anthropologist and AIDS researcher who serves as board president of Shore View Condominiums at Rockaway Beach in Queens, one of the many New York City communities battered hard by superstorm Sandy. "Legally, we were not in a flood zone," she says. "There hasn't been a flood in most of the Rockaways for more than a generation. We were not required nor were we ever offered flood insurance."

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week, a Long Island co-op struggle to finance common-area repair, not covered by FEMA, after superstorm Sandy; a condo super in Greenpoint risks blowing the place up; and rich folk got dem pied-à-terre blues. For co-op and condo boards, we've two tales of illegal hoteling — both with hilarious, albeit nefarious, behavior by the apartment owners. Plus, the latest amenity: onsite well-being programs.

 

In the terrible aftermath of superstorm Sandy, co-op and condo boards and residents found themselves struggling with both immediate needs and longer-term woes. With lobbies, basements and other common areas flooded and in need of repair and reconstruction, with electrical panels destroyed and with buildings not collecting maintenance or common charges from uninhabitable apartments, many boards are understandably overwhelmed. But federal help is available. Through conversations with government agencies and others, Habitat is here to you get through a flood of misinformation.

Now it was time to talk to the dame's mouthpiece. Adam Leitman Bailey had made a name for himself writing books about real estate, like Finding the Uncommon Deal (2011). He had a pretty swell set-up, down on Broadway near the courthouses. He was the kind of guy that judges called, "Your honor."

The condo board at the Village Mall at Hillcrest Condominium, in Queens, thought it was doing everything it had to do on that winter's day. Its porters and superintendent regularly used a small tractor to remove snow, and a plastic device on wheels to spread salt onto the sidewalks. But they kept no logbook of when they did these things — and so when Jaime R. Toro slipped and fell on ice while walking his dog on Feb. 16, 2007, the condo had no defense. In part for want of a logbook, the case continues to drag through the courts nearly six years later — and nearly three years after Toro passed away.

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.

It was a rubber mat that allegedly tripped Rita Brady — and may eventually trip up a co-op board in Rego Park, Queens. It just goes to show that when your contractor leaves hard marble slabs just laying around in the common area for anybody to fall into that the co-op or condo might still be responsible. For the cost of a new rubber mat, a co-op complex of over 2,000 apartments may find itself so broke it has to write rubber checks.

I was talking to attorney Mark Hankin, a partner at Hankin & Mazel, about "Papa Louie," one of Hankin's clients. I don't remember exactly how Louie got in touch with me — a lot comes across my desk every day — but the man intrigued me. Louie, in broken English, was pitching his life story to me, something along the lines of "My Autobiography: From Handyman to Board President."

Was he a self-promoting egoist? Or was he, as he claimed, a hard-working superintendent who graduated to the role of co-op board president? Curious, I called him up.

It's one thing to read about co-op or condo board officers' duties and responsibilities. But only another board officer can tell you what it's really like. In our ongoing series "Board 101," we present three co-op board treasurers sharing some of the most significant and even amusing things they've learned about taking on the role.

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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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