New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

NEW YORK STATE

Solar energy is poised to grow New York State in a big way, thanks to planned new legislation extending property-tax breaks for installing power-generating solar panels. The bill has been passed by both the Senate and the Assembly and awaits only Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's signature.

The bill extends to 2017 the tax-abatement program built into the existing solar-incentive program, which helps residential buildings, including include co-ops condos, offset the high cost of installing solar panels.

Insurance for damage caused by a "plumbing system" is only covered if the overflow originated on your own co-op or condo's property, but not if the backup originated from a municipal water system or other offsite source, according to a new court decision — highlighting the need for boards and their management to ensure that insurance-policy terminology is well-defined and covers what the board believes to be covered.

New York City commuters on the Hudson Line have been taking train delays in stride this month after a heavy-rain mudslide from the Hudson Court co-op at 679 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers rained concrete, rock and soil over a retaining wall onto railroad tracks, mucking up passage between the Glenwood and Greystone stations. The Lower Hudson Valley paper The Journal News reported that the co-op board issued a statement thanking all the public-sector workers who helped clear the debris. Metro-North will bill the co-op, which presumably has insurance.

The mortgage process in New York can occasionally be described with such cheerful words as “dire” or “impossible.” However, Brick Underground has the scoop on a state agency that lets first-time homebuyers get a loan with as little as 3 percent down, provided you make less than $98,000 a year and pay under $665,000 for the property.

State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside) officially announced last week the inclusion of a tax-relief program for small homeowners, renters and co-op and condo owners in this year's New York State budget. After the original proposal entailed tax relief solely for renters, Avella introduced legislation to include condominiums and cooperative owners and other homeowners.

Unit-owners were vocal about the loan. "Some didn't want the debt, period," recalls Patrick Niland, president of First Funding of New York, the mortgage broker for the transaction. "There were a series of very intense meetings. At one, there was an exchange that almost came to blows."

When the board of a 39-unit Yonkers co-op 293 North Broadway had to pull a job from a shoddy contractor and bring in new blood, the original contractor promptly put a mechanic's lien on the property. The board could have responded with a lawsuit. Instead, it tried arbitration. Did that procedure work? Yes and no.

When the board of a 39-unit Yonkers co-op 293 North Broadway had to pull a job from a shoddy contractor and bring in new blood, the original contractor promptly put a mechanic's lien on the property. The board could have responded with a lawsuit. Instead, it tried arbitration. Did that procedure work? Yes and no.

Your first question has a simple answer: yes. Ever since August 1997, when New York Governor George Pataki signed an amendment to the 1964 Condominium Act, condominiums and homeowners' associations have been able to borrow money for repairs and capital improvements. Terms range from 5 to 10 years, with either floating or fixed interest rates. Amortization rarely exceeds 10 years (although I recently arranged a 15-year fixed-rate loan), making every loan self-liquidating over its term. As "collateral," lenders take an assignment of the association's right to collect common charges from the unit-owners.

The board of a 39-unit co-op in Yonkers recently locked horns with its engineer and contractor over a disputed $1.2 million exterior repair job. Loath to spend time and money on a lawsuit, the seven directors opted to pursue mediation and then arbitration. This board's story has some agonizing moments — and some valuable lessons along the way.

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