In: nyc condominium
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.
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.
As per the yearly requirement in New York City, properties that are greater than three (3) units need to file their annual property registration with HPD. As of today, the filings for 2016 – 2017 are available to update on the HPD website.
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.
As per NYC Law any building that was constructed prior to January 1, 1978 is required to send out Lead Paint Notices to occupants each January. Should a child reside in the unit who is under the age of six (6) years old, the building is required to inspect that particular unit at least one (1) time per year, at any time in the year.
July 26, 2015
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.
More often than not, switching Managing Agents is a daunting task for the existing Board. The Board / Manager relationship is one that is intertwined (almost as intimate as a marriage) and although some are switching after a short period of time, many are leaving behind 10+ years of hand-in-hand relationships.
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.
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.