In: Staten Island Property Management

In what can be a sign of things to come in the future of New York City’s continuing fight against Airbnb’s short-term rentals, the New York State Senate recently passed a bill that would make it illegal to advertise any short-term rentals (short-term is classified as anything less than 30 days) for entire homes on their website.

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The New York City Water Board has unanimously approved a 2.1 percent increase in the city’s water and sewer rates, effective July 1, 2016.

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Now that February 2015 has come and gone, New York City and the buildings within its boroughs are now in Cycle 8 for the Facade Inspection Safety Program, also known as Local Law 11. For buildings that are over six stories in height, a licensed architect or engineer is required to inspect the exterior walls, fire escapes, railings and anything that is attached to the building, to ensure that there are no unsafe conditions.
Each cycle for the Local Law 11 is five years long. Cycle 8 began in February of 2015 and will last until February of 2019. In order to spread out the filings throughout the city and to alleviate the stress within the city’s administrative staff, the filing period is broken down into three staggered filing periods. The way to tell the specific two-year period when your building is supposed to file will be based off of the last number in your “Block #”. Each staggered “sub-cycle” is comprised of the following block numbers and their respective filing dates:
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) A: Last Digit of Block # 4, 5, 6 or 9 – February 21, 2015 – February 21, 2017
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) B: Last Digit of Block # 0, 7 or 8 – February 21, 2016 – February 21, 2018
Filing Window (Sub-Cycle) C: Last Digit of Block # 1, 2 or 3 – February 21, 2017 – February 21, 2019
If your building is required to file a Local Law 11 report, you can talk to your engineer or architect of choice to begin the process of inspecting the exterior facade to ensure that all areas are “safe”. If there any “unsafe” conditions, it would behoove the building owner / management to act on it as quickly as possible to minimize any dangerous or hazardous conditions.
If you would like a recommendation of an architect or engineer to use, we would be happy to refer you to a qualified professional who can lead your building in the right direction. You can e-mail Mark Levine (by clicking here) for more information.
Have you run into this scenario before; a Board member resigns during their term and the Board of Directors (or Managers), collectively, appoints a replacement to the position that was just vacated? It should be smooth sailing and without issue, but if this is a cooperative or condominium with an opinionated ownership base, they’ll want to know why the new Board member wasn’t appointed by the shareholders or owners, as a whole.
While it would seem that putting it out to all shareholders or unit owners would be a great idea, it’s not often done, for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it is difficult to get all shareholders and owners to another meeting that is not the Annual Meeting and it is much quicker to appoint someone who is interested in serving on the Board for the remainder of this term. In some cases, there may be a committee member who has been serving on the periphery of the Board and this is a great opportunity to increase their level of participation, if it has been shown that they have something to offer, beyond just filling an open seat.
The reason that the Board will have the final say of who to appoint, in most cases, is provided for in the Bylaws of the building. For instance, below is a partial section of the Bylaws from a NYC cooperative, as it pertains to Vacancies:

When any vacancy exists or occurs among the directors by death, resignation or otherwise, the same shall be filled for the remainder of the term by a majority of votes cast at a special meeting of the remaining directors duly called for the purpose or at any regular meeting of the directors, even though a quorum shall not be present at such special or regular meeting.

As you can see in the above paragraph, the Board has complete control over who they appoint to fill the remainder of the term that was vacated. This could be a period of only a few months or it could be a multi-year term that the new appointment will fulfill.
Just because an appointment was made to the Board does not mean that the shareholders or unit owners are completely without hope if they absolutely disagree with the new appointment. If for any reason they are completely unhappy with this appointment, or the Board in general, the could also look to their bylaws to remove either one or more persons from the Board. They would have to follow the passage in the Bylaws that pertains to removal. From the same NYC cooperative bylaws on Removal:

Any director may be removed from office at any time with or without cause and at the pleasure of the shareholders, upon affirmative vote of the shareholders of record taken at a shareholders’ meeting duly called for that purpose; provided, however, that the directors elected by the holders of Unsold Shares can be removed without cause by such holders of Unsold Shares who alone will have the right to designate a replacement.

There’s no way that each and every shareholder or unit owner will be appeased in each situation, and this is a great example of this. More often than not, the Board will have someone in mind to fill a space on the Board if one should become vacant for any reason during the term of service. It’s up to the shareholders or unit owners to take matters into their own hands if they feel their interests are not being properly represented by the existing Board members.
As I always say, if you’re unhappy with the Board you have, throw your name into the ring the next time around and get on the Board to make a change.
The New York City Department of Finance has recently changed its application process for the Co-op and Condo Property Tax Abatement (“CCA”) for unit owners. Unit owners can now apply for the CCA by completing the Homeowner Tax Benefit Application (click here to download). The revised application now includes CCA in addition to other benefits, such as STAR.

The following groups can now apply using this form:

– Unit Owners who purchased their unit / shares by January 5, 2015 are eligible to apply for the 2015 / 2016 tax year (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). The filing deadline for this tax period was March 16, 2015.

– Unit Owners who purchased their unit / shares after January 5, 2015 should apply for the 2016 / 2017 tax year when that application (the updated links in this post now point that new link).

Please note that to be eligible, you must must use the subject unit as a primary residence and you can not own more than three residential units in the co-op or condo development.

If the unit is owned by a business entity, such as an LLC or a sponsor, your unit is not eligible for the abatements from the city.

In order to apply for the Abatement, you can view and download the application at this link: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/finance/downloads/pdf/payment_operations/exemptions_appl.pdf or you can call 311 and have the application mailed to you.

In addition, as a new policy that is in effect for 2015, an application will be given out at each closing for a new Shareholder or Unit Owner so that they may have the information as soon as they purchase a unit.

In January 2014, NYC enacted a new rule for those properties that had a retaining wall that is greater than 10-feet high and located on a public right of way. Local Law 37 of 2008 now dictates that all of those properties that fall into that category have their retaining walls inspected every five (5) years to determine if they are Safe, Safe with a Repair and Maintenance or Unsafe.

If you’re familiar with Local Law 11 for the facade, then you’ll be familiar with this as well. Depending on where your building is located, you will need to file in the year that is attributed to your borough.

2014: Bronx
2015: Manhattan
2016: Staten Island
2017: Queens
2018: Brooklyn

The DOB provides civil penalties of $1,000 per year for failure to file, plus $250 per month penalty until the property owner is in compliance. Failure to repair an unsafe condition carries a $1,000 per month fine until corrected.

We would recommend that all properties that are now required to inspect and file their properties talk to a local engineer that is qualified to perform the inspection and file on your behalf.

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Beginning on March 1, 2015, New York City has a new law on the books that will require residential buildings to post a “Housing Information Guide For Tenants and Owners” that will alert residents in both english and spanish that there is a “ABC’s of Housing” guide located on the HPD website at www.hpd.gov/hpd.

For buildings that don’t post these new notices in the common area (such as a vestibule or mail area), the building could be subject to a fine of $250 for the infraction. If you would like to grab the text of the new law, you can download our PDF by clicking here or by downloading via the PDF at the beginning of this post.

The Offering Plan of a Cooperative or Condominium is a huge book that is filed with the State at the time the Sponsor / Developer decide to offer their building up for sale to the open public. Being that it is so big, it’s often easy to get lost in the vastness of printed paper. For those looking to view the specifics of how many shares or what the percentage of common area ownership are in a particular unit, it could take while to narrow down the search if it is not known where this information is housed.
If you thumb through the beginning area of your Offering Plan in search of the specifics to either the unit that you own or that you are looking to purchase, the “Schedule A” will be one of the most important areas to verify ownership information. It is on that document that the apartment number, size (bedrooms and bathrooms), share count (% of common interest owned if a Condominium), original purchase price, approx. amount of the mortgage applicable to those shares and projected annual maintenance amounts. These amounts were essentially estimates at the time that the Offering Plan was filed with Attorney General, so it is possible that these amounts have since changed. It would be wise to check with either the Management company or the attorney to verify that these amounts are current and/or applicable to the unit in question.
We’re providing a sample Schedule A (click on this link) so that you can see the breakdown of the apartments and shares. Please note that this is in use for the building specific to this Schedule A and all others will vary accordingly.

Update on 1/15/15: On January 14, 2015, President Obama signed the bill that reauthorized TRIA for another six years, with a new expiration date of December 31, 2020. Although it was renewed, there are some revisions to the TRIA renewal program. These revisions include higher deductibles to insurers.

On December 26, 2007, the President signed into law the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-160, 121 Stat. 1839) [TRIPRA]. This signing extended the existing Program through December 31, 2014, a date that is fast approaching.

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New York City has some very specific snow removal rules for buildings within its boroughs. We’re concerned about snow removal from a few different standpoints; we want to sure ensure the safety of the residents, employees and passerby’s and we also want to limit the liability and potential exposure to lawsuit of our client buildings.

New York City’s Department of Sanitation requires that snow be removed no later than four (4) hours after the end of the snow fall or not later than 11:00AM, if the snow ended after 9:00PM the night before.

In addition, if the snow can’t be removed due to packed ice or other conditions, the building is allowed to place down cat litter, snow melt or a similar product for traction. Once the snow has melted or is readily able to be removed, we recommend that it is done so right away.

Snow is not permitted to be shoveled into the streets at any time. That practice is illegal. In addition, do not place snow on top of a fire hydrant. Those hydrants do need to be kept clear at all times.

Failure to abide by the rules can subject the building to a fine in the amount of $100 – $350 per infraction.

Keeping the sidewalks clear of snow and ice during and after a snowstorm will be of great benefit to the employees, residents and the general public.

Related Post: What are the Winter Heating Requirements?