In: Condominium

Beginning October 1, 2017, pursuant to Local Law 86 of 2017, the regulations regarding providing heat during the nighttime hours have changed. During the Heat Season (October 1 – May 31), property owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 62 degrees inside all apartments at all times.

The former outdoor temperature trigger of 40 degrees outdoors is no longer in play and heat will now always need to be provided. This is also a 7 degree difference inside, as the old regulations provided for the landlord to provide heat to 55 degrees inside when the temperature fell below 40 degrees outside.

If the inside temperature falls below 62 degrees, tenants may file a complaint about inadequate heat with 311. Please take necessary action to ensure that your heating system will be provide heat according to the law beginning October 1st. Daytime heat must still be provided at a minimum of 68 degrees once it is below 55 degrees outside and hot water must be still be maintained at 120 degrees.

Are you on the Board and using either your personal or work email address to conduct Board business? If so, this may be a bad practice that can affect your personal and work lives. What do we recommend? Each board member should set up a brand new email address specifically for all board related items.

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As per NYC Department of Environmental Protection Code, Buildings in New York City are now required to perform a tune up/overhaul and efficiency test on an annual basis by a certified technician. In addition, it is now required that all buildings keep a log book of maintenance of the boiler. The super must sign this book weekly. If this maintenance and testing is not performed by the end of each calendar year, the building will be subject to a fine.

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In the past twenty years, the world of property management has changed but oftentimes, the way in which property management companies manage, has not. There are plenty of companies that are still run by the same executives and they continue to live off of the management style of the 1980’s. To put it bluntly, the use of modern day technology and apps is mostly non-existent and as a company, we’re changing that.

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Interior repairs in cooperative or condominium apartments aren’t as cut and dry as in a rental property. Unlike a rental, where most repairs would fall onto the landlord, there is a clear delineation of responsibilities for a shareholder / unit owner and the building.

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Local Law 47 of 2015 was put into place in October 2015 for one specific purpose; to ensure that building owners and landlords were advising their tenants of any upcoming outages of hot water, electricity, gas or heat that will have a duration of more than two hours.

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When purchasing a property or refinancing a mortgage, a lending bank will do a Title Search on the property in question. Often, if there are outstanding violations on file for the subject property, the bank will ask the Agent for an Indemnification and Hold Harmless letter stating that the Condominium Association, Cooperative Corporation and/or Managing Agent will indemnify them for all claims and damages as a result of these violations.

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Are you thinking of buying an apartment in either a cooperative or a condominium building? Perhaps you’ve already visited your dream apartment and are ready to place an offer, or you’ve already placed that offer and now await the dreaded Board package to be sent in (and hopefully approved). Whatever stage you’re in, reviewing the items that I’ve listed below will help you steer clear of a problem building and minimize your chances for a rude awakening once you move in.

1. Walk Through All Common Areas: I remember when a friend asked me to come with him to a Great Neck, NY cooperative that he was looking into purchasing. The apartment itself was nice, but when we were walking through the top-floor hallway and then looked at the staircase to the roof, the walls and ceilings were in deplorable condition. Obviously, this wasn’t a part of the apartment that he would be purchasing, but the fact that the cooperative Board hadn’t taken care of their common property lead me to believe that when a Shareholder has an issue with a Cooperative-responsible item within the apartment (it will arise, eventually), the care, craftsmanship and high-priority that it should take may not be there. Thankfully, he passed on this apartment and went to a better maintained building.

2. What Is The Recent Bed Bugs History? In New York City, all apartments that change hands are required to include a Bed Bugs History form, alerting the new tenant of the apartment to any bed bugs in the building within the past year. You’ll learn if the building had them on the floor and if they were or weren’t treated. I take bed bugs so seriously that one of my more popular blog posts and videos on my website are on this topic. Granted, bed bugs are everywhere, but if there was a recent outbreak in the building, this should be a cause of concern.

Bed bugs spread very easily and can live for a year without feeding (in a multi-family building this will never happen as there is always a source of food – unlike a cabin in the woods that is unoccupied for months at a time). You want to make sure that if there was a recent outbreak, that building management took the preventative steps in order to both eradicate the infestation and then testing after the treatments to ensure that they were actually removed from the property.

3. Have Your Attorney Read The Building’s Minutes: I recommend to all clients that their meeting minutes should be as sparse as possible (they’re a legal document after all and shouldn’t be used as a word-for-word recap of the meeting), but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be valuable information located within them. If you’re looking to purchase a particular apartment, you can get a sense if there are any overriding issues within either your apartment, in your line of apartments or in the building, in general. You may even find some information about a possible problem-neighbor that you can avoid as well.

Minutes will also be a good source of learning about the financial condition of the building, the major upcoming projects (we want to see how they’ll be funded and if the Unit Owners or Shareholders can expect to be hit with an increase or with an assessment, etc.) and will also give you a window into how the Board / building operates. Purchasing is a two-way street. As much as the Board, in a Cooperative, is interviewing a prospective purchaser at the interview, the purchaser is doing the same thing; sizing up the Board and the way that they run their building.

4. How Responsive Is The Management Company During The Application Process? The application stage is a good reference point for any potential purchaser as to how the Management company will treat you once you get into the building. We have Boards that specifically ask in an interview how the Management company treated them during the process, so this is important on both ends. If you’re calling and e-mailing and you’re not getting any response from the Management company while you are in the process of purchasing, this is a sure sign that when you’re an actual Shareholder or Unit Owner, you may get the same treatment.

5. Review The Financial Statements Over Multiple Years: This item should go without saying. To make sure that the building you’re purchasing into is financially solvent, you’ll want to either review their Financials yourself, or have your attorney / accountant review for you. You’ll begin to see patterns on expenditures, get an insight into their current financing and will see if they’re burning a lot more than is coming in. Just like any business, if they’re spending more than they’re making, you want to make sure that the expenditures were for the right reasons and that there are sufficient reserves should they run out of operating cash.

There are so many questions and scenarios that as a purchaser you should be looking for. These five questions above are a good starting-point to start your internal conversation to negotiate with yourself, initially, if the building that you may potentially buy into is a good fit for you.

In a Cooperative, the Board of Directors has a lot of leeway when approving or rejecting a proposed sale of shares (of course, they can only deny for legal reasons), but in a Condominium, since there is no Proprietary Lease and the apartments are all fee-simple in ownership, the Right of First Refusal plays an important part in how the Board of Managers can impact a pending sale or lease agreement. A Right of First Refusal is the mechanism that gives the Board the option of stepping into the proposed deal on behalf of all unit owners, instead of allowing the deal to go through with the purchaser that has submitted an application to purchase.

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On May 6, 2015, Mayor DeBlasio signed into law, Local Law 39 of 2015 (Intro 433 of 2014), which states that all multifamily buildings are required to maintain electrical outlet safety and tamper resistant receptacles in public areas (with the exception of public parts of the building that are used exclusively for mechanical or storage purposes).

Compliance of this law can be done in a few ways. Buildings can choose to install electrical outlets that are listed as tamper-resistant receptacles, in accordance with New York City electrical code, or they can install and maintain protective caps, covers or other safety devices over outlets. Failure to abide by the new law after August 4th will result in a building receiving a Class A violation.

If you have any questions on the implementation of this program and do not want to use protective caps, it would be in the building’s best interest to speak with a licensed and insured electrician to begin the process of installing tamper-resistant receptacles in all common areas of your building.