In: Excel Bradshaw Management Group
July 14, 2015
What Is A Right Of First Refusal In A Condominium?
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.
Property Managers often get asked by residents: “I’m only painting my apartment – why do I need to get Board or Management approval”? The answers lies with liability and insurance coverage. We’re not so concerned with the muted shades of gray that you intend to roll on the walls as we are with ensuring that the contractor you’re bringing into the building is properly licensed and insured.
In most Bylaws or Proprietary Leases that you’ll encounter, there is a provision that alterations cannot be undertaken without the consent of the Board or the Lessor. In the painting case above, we want to make sure that your painting company has general liability, auto and umbrella coverage. In addition, if they have a staff that will be working on the project, they have to provide proof of Workman’s Comp protection also. Typically, these policies name both the Cooperative / Condominium and the Managing Agent as additionally insured, just in case something should happen while they are on site (that could be damage to the unit in question, common areas, neighboring apartments or to any individual; an employee or not).
In this case, if an apartment is being painted and it is pre-1978, we can assume that this is an apartment that has lead paint on the walls and as such, an EPA Lead Safe Certified contractor will need to provide proof that they have the certification and will need to follow the guidelines set forth in the framework of those procedures.
Not all alterations are limited in scope to painting. Electrical, plumbing and structural work all need approval from the appropriate parties in your building and once these topics are broached, more information (permits, licenses, sealed drawings, architect review and more) will be required before a formal approval is given. The larger in scope, the more detailed the plans will be needed.
At the end of the day, the work that you do in your apartment, so long as it is represented and filed properly, is the business of the resident, but the property manager has the entire building in its sights to ensure that those who are entering to do the work, and the work itself, will not harm either the occupants or the structural integrity of the building as a whole.
July 2, 2015
What Is A Limited Common Element?
“Limited Common Element” is a term that is thrown out into the wild occasionally but is a characteristic that presents itself in most buildings. Many people are unsure what it means and if they are affected by it, so with the below examples we can dive deeper for a better understanding.
If your building still operates with a boiler that runs on oil, or if you have an active storage tank that holds oil, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation requires that your building keep an active permit, which is due for renewal every five years, for each and every active tank. The Bulk Storage Certificate is required for any size tank and depending on the size of your specific tank, there will be varying filing fees.
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.
**Update on 5/8/15: The NYC Water Board voted to raise the water rates for FY2016 (effective 7/1/15) by 2.97%.**
The New York City Water Board has recently received a formal recommendation from the Department of Environmental Protection that the water rates should be increased for 2016. The increase that has been noted is 3.24%, which would also mark the second annual increase under Mayor de Blasio (3.35% last year).
We have covered the heating requirements in multi-family buildings (link here) in the past, but what do we know about the required hot water temperature within an apartment that is located in the New York City area? That’s pretty easy, so long as you know the law.
WHO DOES THE LAW APPLY TO? Under New York State law, the law applies to all owners of buildings with three (3) or more apartments that are built after April 18, 1929, and before January 1, 1951 that are three (3) stories or more in height AND all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units that are built after January 1, 1951.
Under a more specific New York City hot water law, the law applies to all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units built before April 18, 1929, all owners of buildings with three (3) or more units built after April 18, 1929 and before January 1, 1951 that have fewer than three (3) stories AND all owners of tenant-occupied 1 or 2-family dwellings in NYC.
WHAT DOES THE LAW REQUIRE? The New York State hot water law requires that all residents in a building that falls under the jurisdiction be given hot water that is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit in every shower, bath and sink, 24-hours per day. Building owners in New York City must provide hot water that is at least 120 Fahrenheit in every shower, bath and sink between 6am – Midnight, every day of the year.
NEW YORK CITY LAW ONLY: Owners that fall within the NYC hot water law must install an anti-scald feature on any valve that controls the water supply to bathtubs and showers when renovating the water supply in the bathroom or when installing a new bathroom. An anti-scald feature will prevent the temperature from reaching above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, to prevent burns. If an anti-scald device is used, the minimum temperature that it can have water coming out is 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
WHAT FINES CAN MY BUILDING BE SUBJECT TO FOR NOT PROVIDING HOT WATER? Should your building fail to provide adequate hot water to residents as prescribed by State law, the building owner may be fined $500 and/or imprisoned for up to 30 days, per offense. Owners who violate the City hot water law could be fined between $250 – $500 for a 1st violation and between $500 – $1,000 per day for each violation that occurs during the same year. If renovating a bathroom or installing a new bathroom, the fine for not installing a proper anti-scald device can see a $500 penalty per violation.
Hot water and heat are two of the most important services that a landlord / building owner can provide. While it’s understandable that from time-to-time there will be boiler issues and repairs are warranted, a systematic problem that sees residents out of hot water on a consistent basis is a problem that will need to be resolved.
If you are in a building with a systematic hot water or heat issue, please call 311 (after calling your building management company) to report the building and to have an inspector visit and issue a violation, if needed.
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.
Did you know that if you reside in a building in New York City that is between 5 and 75 residential units and a customer to either ConEd gas or electric service, you are qualified to obtain a FREE ConEd Green Team Survey by a Green Team energy professional? As part of a program to incentivize buildings, and residential occupants, to save energy by using more energy efficient products, the Green Team professionals will evaluate all of your lighting and heating equipment and will offer energy-saving recommendations throughout your property.
The survey will arrive to the building owner or manager and will provide all of the information that you need in order to make a decision, based on their recommendations. There is no requirement to abide by their recommendations at any time.
In addition to the free survey report and recommendations, a Green Team professional will also install free CFL’s, water saving devices and smart strips in residential units. There is also the possibility of building owners receiving rebates for eligible upgrades to common area equipment, including lighting fixtures, LED exit signs, HVAC and building management systems.
To sign up for the survey or to obtain information on the process, you can call ConEd directly at 877-634-9443