In: Offering Plan
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
“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.
February 14, 2015
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.
Sometimes a Board of Directors in a Cooperative can overstep their bounds. Whether it’s from a lack of knowledge of what they can or can’t do or just a lax outlook on adhering to the building’s documents, Boards need to keep their limits in mind when making changes.
Recently, someone posed the question to the Habitat Magazine (http://www.habitatmag.com) forums asking if the Board can change the terms of the Proprietary Lease, to allow for Shareholders to now be responsible for the upkeep and replacement of windows. This was, according to the poster, done without the approval of the Shareholders at large.
The Proprietary Lease usually calls for a supermajority of Shareholders (either 66.6% or 75%, depending on the documents) to approve any changes to the Proprietary Lease or Bylaws. If there wasn’t a special meeting for this purpose or if it was not included on the agenda of the Annual Meeting, then the Board most likely made this change illegally.
We always advise our Boards to follow the law with regards to handling building documents to ensure that the rules and policies set forth are enforceable to the end.
A Shareholder in a recent correspondence noted to Management that the shares attributed to their unit were too many in the Schedule A of the Offering Plan. Apartments that were attributed garage spaces had an extra 50 shares built into their proprietary lease and stock certificates, but this is the one apartment that had the extra shares in the unit but no garage to attribute the shares to.
Roughly 30-years after the building went Cooperative, this was noticed by the Shareholder. At the time of the purchase of the original shares from the Sponsor, an attorney looking into the building’s Offering Plan and supporting documents would have picked up on this discrepancy with a bit of due diligence. The Shareholder, having paid maintenance for a period of 30 years was only now looking into the perceived extra maintenance that they have been paying. There is no way, now, to adjust the shares in the Schedule A as that would change the entire layout of shares within the Cooperative as a whole.
With a bit of due diligence and paying attention to the details while purchasing the apartment, this mistake could have been avoided. They would not have been able to change the Schedule A but they would have been able to step away from the purchase in the first place, before the financial damage was done.