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02 Feb 2018
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Cryptocurrency Wave Crashes into the World of Real Estate

There is an old adage often thrown around political circles: money in politics is like water on pavement, it finds every crack and crevice. Substitute the economy in place of politics and it seems like cryptocurrency is on its way to becoming a real world example of this maxim. Created to bypass cash and enable incorruptible financial transactions using blockchain, a distributed digital ledger, these virtual currencies have been winding there way into an ever growing number of areas of the global financial system. With a current market cap of over $450 billion[1], cryptocurrencies have even made the leap into the physical economy, expanding their reach into real estate.

Real estate is known to offer relative stability and steady growth. In contrast, the value of cryptocurrencies can be unpredictable. However, the market with the greatest potential for cryptocurrencies so far has been residential real estate. Most real estate transactions involving cryptocurrencies have unfolded the same way. “The parties agree on a fixed price in dollars and then decide on a fair exchange rate at closing. The [cryptocurrency is] then converted to cash by a third party… which [is] then given to the seller.”[2]

The main concern with these transactions is the massive day-to-day or even hour-to-hour changes in the value of cryptocurrencies. “What seems like a fair exchange rate at the time, can seem like a steal or ripoff months later. [For example,] Ivan “Paychecks” Pacheco paid 17.741 bitcoin to Frank Mainade Jr. for a two-bedroom condo in Miami’s Upper East Side… [which] was equivalent to $275,000 with an exchange rate of about $15,500 per bitcoin. As of publish time on Thursday, those 17.741 bitcoins were worth $159,577.”[3] As regulations are still in the early stages, individuals need to be aware of the risks before exchanging real property for cryptocurrency as opposed to fiat currencies.

However, using cryptocurrencies for real property transaction is becoming a more common occurrence. A new company called Deedcoin has just filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in preparation for its upcoming initial coin offering, a capital-raising event which disperses a set amount of cryptocurrency-based tokens to investors. Within Deedcoin’s system “buyers and sellers should be able to buy Deedcoin’s Ethereum-based tokens starting at $1.50 per token, and then use them to hire real estate agents nationwide. Agents who agree would then accept the tokens as payment in exchange for reducing their traditional commissions in U.S. dollars to as low as 1 percent, or an average of $225 per token used, the company claims.”[4] Though we have yet to learn what the true extent of the use of cryptocurrencies will end up being, it is clear that the real estate market is yet another area of the economy where cryptocurrencies are beginning to fill in the cracks.

Tips for Real Estate Buyers and Sellers Considering Cryptocurrencies[5]:

  • Do your research! Seek advice from an attorney or financial advisor.
  • Understand that cryptocurrencies are both an investment and real currencies that can be used to buy products or services, including real estate.
  • Don’t dive into the deep end without first testing the waters. Before purchasing real estate with cryptocurrencies, try buying and selling cryptocurrencies on apps such as Coinbase.

[1] CoinMarketCap. (Feb. 1, 2018) “Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations.” Available at: https://coinmarketcap.com. Accessed on Feb. 1, 2018.

[2] Jacobs, Harrison. (Feb. 1, 2018) “Someone is selling their New Jersey house for $2.3 million in bitcoin – and it’s a growing trend.” Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-payment-for-real-estate-listings-2018-2. Accessed on Feb. 1, 2018.

[3] Ib.

[4] Hinchliffe, Emma. (Feb. 1, 2018) “Real estate cryptocurrency startup Deedcoin secures SEC registration.” Inman. Available at: https://www.inman.com/2018/02/01/real-estate-cryptocurrency-startup-deedcoin-secures-sec-registration. Accessed on: Feb. 1, 2018.

[5] Olick, Diana. (Jan. 11, 2018) “5 Tips before you buy or sell a home in cryptocurrency.” CNBC. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/11/5-tips-before-you-buy-or-sell-a-home-in-cryptocurrency.html. Accessed on: Feb. 1, 2018.

29 Jan 2018
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A Guide for Co-op and Condo Board Members

Acting as a board member for a co-op or condo can seem like a full time job. Shareholders select board members to make and implement day-to-day decisions for the building. As a board member your role is to protect the interests of all tenants, owners and shareholders.  This requires playing an active role, effective communication, and demonstrating good leadership. However, what resources are available to help board members effectively manage their buildings? Whether it is for guidance on the impact of new laws and regulations or whether  your building is a landmark, there are various agencies and departments for board members to utilize.

The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) “promotes the safety of all people that build, work, and live in New York City by regulating the lawful use of over one million buildings and construction sites across the five boroughs. With a focus on safety, service, and integrity, the Department enforces the City’s Construction Codes, Zoning Resolution, and the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law.”[1] The DOB provides vital information from building permits and sustainability to hiring licensed professionals and enforcing the rights of landowners, tenants and businesses. The DOB’s website keeps an updated track of all legal and regulatory changes that may impact your co-op or condo.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is “responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, and regulating them after designation.”[2] Why is this important for board members? Before a building undergoes any renovation, it is imperative to know whether the building or district has been marked as a landmark. The LPC provides guidelines for when buildings need to seek a permit before initiating interior or exterior alterations. Board members should note that LPC permits are not necessary for ordinary repairs or maintenance.[3]

New York’s 311 number has a housing and development sector for all five boroughs, which allows board members to reach the city 24/7 regarding any information or concerns. If the operators are unable to answer your question they will direct you to the specific office or agency you need. The City of New York’s website also provides helpful information on building management, maintenance, construction, ownership and taxes.[4] Another key resource for board members is the Attorney General, currently Eric Schneiderman. The AG’s office provides an abundance of guidelines and tip sheets for co-op and condo board members, shareholders and tenants. Tip sheets even include guides on how to handle problems with your condo and co-ops board of managers.[5]

Utilizing the different offices and agencies will help make sitting as a board member as seamless as possible. Quick resource guide:

  • New York City Department of Buildings – nyc.gov/dob.
  • Landmarks Preservation Commission – http://www.nyc.gov.lpc/ or (212) 669-7817.
  • Mayors Office and 311 – nyc.gov/mayor or 311.
  • Attorney General’s Office – http://www.ag.ny.gov/ or (212) 416-8122.  

[1] NYC Buildings. About Us. Available at: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/about/about.page. Accessed on Jan. 25, 2018.

[2] LPC. About Us. Available at: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/about/about-lpc.page, Accessed on Jan. 25, 2018.

[3] LPC. Applications. Available at: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/applications/applications.page. Accessed on Jan. 25, 2018.

[4] See http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/categories/housing-development.page.

[5] See https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/housing-issues.

19 Jan 2018
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Starbucks Paving a Way for Landlords’ Rights

Can multinational corporations end their commercial leases early? In July 2017 Starbucks announced that it would be closing its 379 Teavana stores due to poor performance, despite that their leases had not yet expired. Simon Property Group, the landlord for 77 of the Teavana locations in Simon malls, sought an injunction against Starbucks to prohibit the corporation from “shirking its contractual obligations at the expense of Simon’s shopping centers and the dozens of communities they serve and support.”[1] Simon argued that Starbuck’s acts could set a harmful precedent that could create a ripple effect of other stores ending their leases early.

Although Teavana stores were underperforming, Starbucks, unlike other small retailers who suffer from financial hardship, had the means to restructure or rebrand the Teavana stores to bring in more business and foot traffic. The decision of the Indiana judge in November who agreed with Simon, fortified the rights of landlords. “Lawyers say the suit is a rare instance of a mall landlord actually enforcing language that’s common in leases spelling out options for closing stores, and the fact that a judge ruled in favor of the landlord likely means more landlords will follow in Simon’s footsteps, should their tenants try to close shop prior to the end of a lease.”[2]

The companies agreed to settle this week, however how will this impact litigation and landlords in the future? Online shopping is creating greater competition to brick-and-mortar retailers. Unfortunately, this means that malls are seeing less foot traffic and more retailers are having to close their store fronts. Due to the current retail environment, landlords should ensure their leases protect their interests in case tenants are unable to fulfil the term of the lease. The judge shed light on how a court may rule in favor for the landlord, particularly when the tenant is a large multinational corporation that is not going out of business.

For future lease agreements, landlords and tenants should be conscientious and vigilant about what terms are included in the lease. The negotiation stage is very important as it gives both parties the opportunity to protect their interests and avoid future conflicts and litigation.


[1] Holden, R. (Jan. 17, 2018) “Starbucks Settles with Simon.” Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ronaldholden/2018/01/17/starbucks-settles-with-simon/#6274c1ae7152. Accessed on Jan. 19, 2018.

[2] McIntyre, A. (Jan. 19, 2018) “Simon-Starbucks Case May Give Landlords A Legal Roadmap.” Law360. Available at: https://www.law360.com/realestate/articles/1002744/simon-starbucks-case-may-give-landlords-a-legal-roadmap. Accessed on Jan. 19, 2018.

12 Jan 2018
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Privacy Limitations in Co-ops and Condos

Are there limits on privacy for residents living in co-ops and condos? Yes. Living in a co-op or condo requires residents to make compromises for the interest of the building. In case of an emergency, repair or inspection, the board and building staff are permitted to access apartments. Where do co-op and condo boards get this authority? There will be provisions in the building’s governing documents typically requiring residents to permit access into their unit for the purpose of making necessary repairs or improvements required by law or for the purpose of inspection or of showing the unit to a prospective purchaser. New York law will require condo owners and co-op shareholders to comply with the by-laws of their building, and therefore permit board access into their apartments. Who is allowed in? This will also be provided in building’s governing documents, but generally the board, its agents and authorized workers.

As we have previously discussed, the board will require residents to provide a key for access to the front door, and for any doors providing access to water valves, plumbing fixtures and fire exits.[1] The board does not have authority to enter into a resident’s apartment without prior notice and consent or in case of an emergency. So how can co-op and condo boards avoid conflicts and tension when accessing apartments? They should have clearly written protocols that address when the board and other authorized personnel can enter apartments. When possible, boards should provide a written notice to residents explaining when a repair or inspection is to take place to allow residents to make proper arrangements (i.e. for supervision). When is notice not applicable? In cases of an emergency, governing documents will grant immediate access to authorized personnel. What constitutes an emergency? Gas leaks, fires, and substantial water leaks.

If a co-op shareholder or condo owner refuses access to the board and its agents for a repair or in an emergency, they could be liable for any damage, including damage in neighboring units. Boards should keep a record of any refusals of access for repairs or inspections in case the issue is brought to court. To avoid this avenue, the board and resident should communicate their concerns. If a resident wants to be present at the time of the repair or inspection, find dates that work for both parties. At the same time, the board cannot abuse its power. Residents need to report any unauthorized access to either the management or the board.


[1] Guzov, LLC. (Dec. 1, 2017) ”Precarious Co-op Rules.” Available at. http://guzovllc.com/precarious-co-op-rules/.

05 Jan 2018
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The Impact of the New Tax Law on New York Homeowners

In light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act , New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued an emergency executive order No. 172 authorizing localities to issue warrants to collect early tax payments from homeowners in an effort to alleviate the “devastating impact”[1] of the new Act. Homeowners had the option of paying, in full or in part, their property taxes until the end of 2017 in order to claim higher deductibles for their federal taxes.

The new law caps state and local tax deductibles at $10,000, which has a significant impact on property taxes for New York homeowners. Governor Cuomo explained that “New York has made unprecedented progress reducing the burden of taxes on our middle-class families, and we will not allow this attack to roll back all we have achieved.” On average, residents in Manhattan “take the highest average deduction for state and local deductions, known as SALT, on their federal tax returns.”[2] The average SALT deduction in New York County is $60,400, whereas in Westchester it is $34,300. The Tax Foundation published the median property taxes paid across the U.S., the highest amounts being in New York State.[3]

The IRS announced that taxpayers could receive the deductible if they not only made the payment in 2017, but if the taxes were also assessed before the end of the year.[4] Although this executive order permitted homeowners to pay their property taxes early, in some localities this was not feasible. Homeowners is Westchester, who pay significant property taxes, were unable to pay their taxes for 2018 in 2017. The county executive, Rob Astorino, explained that “[i]t is just not possible for the county to issue its 2018 tax warrants to localities within the next four days for a whole host of legal, operational and practical reasons”.[5]

Homeowners in New York who were eligible but did not pay their property taxes early will now have to abide by the new tax code, which means capping state and local deductions at $10,000. What will be the future for New York residents? Governor Cuomo proposed for New York to restructure its tax code in order to “get out of the federal trap”.[6] This new tax code will  compel local governments to preserve the interests of its residents.


[1] New York State. (Dec. 22,2017) “Governor Cuomo Takes Emergency Executive Action to Deliver Property Tax Deductibility for New Yorkers.” New York State. Available at: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-takes-emergency-executive-action-deliver-property-tax-deductibility-new-yorkers. Accessed on Dec. 28, 2017.

[2]Casselman, B. and McGeehan, P. (Dec. 4, 2017) “How New Yorkers Would Lose Under the Republican Tax Bill.” New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/business/economy/tax-bill-new-york.html?_r=0. Accessed on Dec. 28, 2017.

[3] Scarboro, M. (May 18, 2017) “Which Places Pay the Most in Property Taxes?” Tax Foundation. Available at: https://taxfoundation.org/median-property-taxes-county-2011-2015/. Accessed on Dec. 28, 2017.

[4] IRS. (Dec. 27, 2017) “IRS Advisory: Prepaid Real Property Taxes May be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed and Paid in 2017.” IRS. Available at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-advisory-prepaid-real-property-taxes-may-be-deductible-in-2017-if-assessed-and-paid-in-2017. Accessed on Jan. 2, 2018.

[5] The Real Deal. (Dec. 27, 2017) “Why Westchester homeowners won’t be able to pre-pay their 2018 taxes.” The Real Deal. Available at: https://therealdeal.com/2017/12/27/why-westchester-homeowners-wont-be-able-to-pre-pay-their-2018-taxes/. Accessed on Jan. 2, 2018.

[6] The Real Deal. (Jan. 2, 2018) “Democrats in New York and California are fighting the tax overhaul. Here’s how.” The Real Deal. Available at: https://therealdeal.com/2018/01/02/democrats-in-new-york-and-california-are-fighting-the-tax-overhaul-heres-how/. Accessed on Jan. 2, 2018.

22 Dec 2017
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A Resident’s Guide to Board Transparency

We have previously discussed the duties and obligations co-op and condo board members owe to shareholders and owners, but what information needs to be disclosed and how transparent should boards be? What information can shareholders and owners access and what is off limits? First and foremost, it is important for residents to know their rights.

Co-op shareholders have the right, pursuant to Section 624 of the New York Business Corporation Law (BCL), New York common law, and generally their proprietary lease, to inspect the corporate books and records. It has been held[1] that co-op shareholders have the same legal rights to documents as shareholders in other public and closely–held corporations doing business in the State of New York. Therefore, co-op shareholders have the intrinsic right to protect their largest investment – their property. So what information generally must be disclosed to these shareholders? Documents such as meeting minutes, profit and loss statements, shareholder list, and accounting and bank statements. When requesting the board’s books and records, shareholders typically need to submit an affidavit confirming that they have not attempted to sell their unit in the past five years to avoid potential conflict.

Under the Condominium Act Section 339-w,[2] condo owners have the right to examine the books of receipts and expenditures of the condo. The provision specifies that “[s]uch records and the vouchers authorizing the payments shall be available for examination by the unit owners at convenient hours of weekdays. A written report summarizing such receipts and expenditures shall be rendered by the board of managers to all unit owners at least once annually.”[3] Recently the courts have applied the rights of shareholders to condo owners, whereby condo owners, who are acting in good faith, may retrieve documents such as “monthly financial reports, building invoices, board meeting minutes and legal invoices”.[4]

However, there are limitations on shareholders’ and owners’ rights to inspect the books and records. Certain documents contain confidential information that should not automatically be disclosed. This problem often arises in regards to board meeting minutes. If a shareholder or unit owner requests access to minutes that contain confidential information, the board may be able to make redactions, particularly if the information is “embarrassing or prejudicial”.[5] On January 1, 2018, Section 727 of the BCL will be in effect, which expands the scope of board transparency. Section 727 states that every condominium or cooperative housing corporation is required to submit an annual report to the shareholders including information of all contracts made, entered into, or voted on by the board, and the relevant details of those contracts.[6] As statutes and common law evolve, it is important for boards to practice greater transparency so that they are in compliance with the law and avoid potential conflicts and litigation.


[1] Guzov, LLC. (May 4, 2017) “Guzov, LLC Protects Co-op Shareholders’ Right to Safeguard Investment through New York Supreme Court Ruling.” Available at: http://guzovllc.com/supreme-court-protects-co-op-shareholders-right-safeguard-investment/.

[2] Condominium Act Section 339-w. Available at: https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2010/rpp/article-9-b/339-w/. Accessed on Dec. 22, 2017.

[3] Ib.

[4] Odenthal, Mike. (Nov. 9, 2017) “How Transparent Should Boards Be” The Cooperator New York. Available at: https://cooperator.com/article/a-board-beholden/full#cut. Accessed on Dec. 22, 2017.

[5] Ib.

[6] BCL Section 727. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/BSC/727. Accessed on Dec. 22, 2017.

15 Dec 2017
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Holiday Do’s and Don’ts

December is the month of festivities and traditions. Various holidays such as Kwanzaa, Chanukah and Christmas all fall within December and residents in New York love decorating their homes to celebrate the holidays. However, what are the decorating do’s and don’ts and how can residence make sure their holiday décor is not hazardous?

As co-op and condo residents have a mixture of backgrounds, the board must ensure it establishes consistent, fair and safe practices. There needs to be a balance between celebrating the holidays and ensuring decorations do not offend any residents or become a nuisance or hazard. Although most co-ops and condos permit residents to celebrate the holidays by decorating their doors, some by-laws do prohibit decorating the outside of your apartment along with the common areas. Buildings typically allow residents to hang wreaths, dreidels and signs on their doors. As long as the board treats all residents’ religions and traditions equally, there is unlikely to be a problem, but be sure to check your building’s individual by-laws. Some residents may be permitted to hang decorations on their doors or terraces pending board approval. What about religious decorations on residents’ front doors? Many Jewish households place mezuzahs on their front doors as a sign of faith and not decoration. Courts have held that displaying mezuzahs is protected under the first amendment, regardless if a building does not permit any type of decorations.

For buildings that permit holiday décor in common areas, the rules should again be fair and inclusive of all faiths. To avoid tension, co-op and condo boards can ask interested residents to form a diverse committee to decorate and raise funding. Why shouldn’t a board use common funds for the holidays? Not all residents will want their monthly fees allocated to holiday decorations, particularly when they symbolize various religions. Independently raising funds will create greater transparency and avoid potential conflicts.

During the holidays residents tend to leave their tree lights on and keep the candles burning. To avoid holiday disasters it is important to follow basic safety procedures to prevent fires. The National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA) reports that from 2011 to 2015 fire departments responded to around 200 fires starting from Christmas trees alone. Electrical issues caused 40% of the fires, candles 26%, and 24% of the trees were intentionally set on fire. During the same time period, fire departments responded to around 840 fires that were caused by other holiday decorations.[1]

For residents with real trees, make sure they are regularly watered and not near a radiator. For residents who opt for fake trees, it is important they are fire retardant. As a basic guideline, residents should not use real candles on trees and should always be home when the tree lights are on. Decorations with lights and candles in common areas of co-ops and condos should be regularly monitored and not left on throughout the night.

 

[1]National Fire Protection Association. “Winter Holiday Fires by the Numbers.” Available at: http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Winter-holiday-safety/Holiday-fires-by-the-numbers. Accessed on Dec. 14, 2017.

08 Dec 2017
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When Your Board Needs a Quorum

In the by-laws for each co-op and condo, there will be provisions outlining the requirements for a quorum and in what instances a quorum is required. A quorum is mandatory at shareholder meetings or when the board is conducting business, except when otherwise provided by law. To meet the quorum standard, shareholders representing, in person or by proxy, a majority of the shares issued will need to attend the meeting. For condos, instead of shares, the by-laws will specify the percentage of common interest required to be present. The Business Corporation Law (BCL) § 608(a) sets out that “holders of a majority of the votes of shares entitled to vote thereat shall constitute a quorum at a meeting of shareholders for the transaction of any business.”[1]

Voting and Board Elections

For a shareholder vote, the shareholders who own a majority of the shares (or common interest in a condo) must hold and attend the meeting to form a quorum. Under BCL § 608(b), the building’s certificate of incorporation or by-laws can limit the quorum to one-third of the votes of shares or under § 616 increase the percentage of shares needed.

For board elections in co-ops and condos, there needs to be a quorum. BCL § 614(a) states that “Directors shall, except as otherwise required by this chapter or by the by-laws or certificate of incorporation as permitted by this chapter, be elected by a plurality of the votes cast at a meeting of shareholders by the holders of shares entitled to vote in the election.” For elections, co-op and condo boards must provide a notice to all shareholders and owners between sixty and ten days before the scheduled election.

What happens if a quorum is not present at a scheduled election? “Quite often in New York co-ops (and condos), … reports will be presented to shareholders. Why punish those who were nice enough to attend?”[2] Nonetheless, to hold the election itself, there must be a quorum present.

Revising the Building’s By-Laws

Every building’s by-laws differ in regards to the procedure of amending the provisions. Some corporations require either a shareholder or board of directors vote in the affirmative of two-thirds, seventy-five percent, or a super-majority to amend, alter, repeal or create new by-laws. If a quorum is not present at the meeting, the holders of a majority of the shares can adjourn the meeting to another date at which time the shareholders present at the original meeting are entitled to vote regardless of a quorum. Pursuant to BCL § 608(d) however, shareholders present have the option of adjourning a meeting even if a quorum is present.

When adopting a new resolution, generally all board members must be present. What happens when a board member cannot attend the meeting? BCL § 708 allows board members to either give written consent to adopt a resolution without the need of attendance or they can participate via conference telephone or others devices allowing everyone to hear each other at the same time, such as Skype and FaceTime.

[1] Emphasis added.

[2] Brucker, Andrew. (Dec. 2017) “Q&A: Quorum and Board Elections.” The Cooperator New York. Available at: https://cooperator.com/article/qa-quorum-and-board-elections. Accessed on Dec. 8, 2017.

01 Dec 2017
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Precarious Co-op Rules

Every co-op has a body of rules governing the building and the shareholders. These include the building’s by-laws, the proprietary lease and the house rules. However, in under some house rules, shareholders are expected to follow peculiar provisions such as only being able to move into their new unit from the hours of 9:00am to 4:00pm on all days except Sunday and holidays.

Locks on Doors

It is common to see a provision in the house rules regarding locks and security devices on the premises. Typically a shareholder cannot change the locks on the door providing access to the apartment unless they give duplicate keys for the locks or combination codes for other security devices to the co-op in case of an emergency or for repairs. Pursuant to New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, shareholders are permitted to install and maintain an additional lock (such as a deadbolt or chain lock) as long as it can be opened from the inside with a thumb-turn and outside with a key.[1]

For doors providing access to water valves and plumbing fixtures, shareholders typically must also provide a set of keys to the co-op in case of an emergency or for repairs. These requirements rarely cause tension, however, what if the house rules stipulate that the co-op must also have access to bedrooms locks? Although it seems evasive, the house rule actually abides by New York’s occupancy laws. All interior doors (including fire escapes) in an apartment must be easily accessible in an event such as a fire. For privacy, shareholders can install push locks that do not require a key to open from the inside. It is unlikely that a co-op board will go to each unit to examine the locks, however, it is important to follow these rules in case of an emergency or if the Department of Buildings conducts a fire safety investigation.

Restricting Construction on Religious Holidays

Co-ops will require that all construction in the building is in accordance with all Federal, State and City regulations and codes and usually to be conducted from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, except for holidays. However, can a co-op restrict construction on every holiday for all religions, even if they are not commonly observed among shareholders? Essentially, yes, as long as there are enough days in-between holidays to carry out the work. “Conceptually, rules restricting work are generally not in observance of any particular theological mandate but are ‘quality of life’ regulations in recognition that on certain days many residents may be home and … wish to be free of the noise, vibrations, dust and other disturbing byproducts of construction work.”[2] Co-op boards need to be clear when construction can and cannot occur and ensure that the rules do not discriminate against any particular faith.

Every building has different rules, but they are all meant to be in the best interest of the building and to maintain health and safety. It is important to review a building’s governing documents before purchasing a new apartment to ensure that your interests are compatible with the board’s. When conflicts arise between shareholders and the co-op board it is essential to communicate any concerns early on to avoid litigation.

[1] New York State Multiple Dwelling Law Section 51-c; Building Code Title 27, Subchapter 6 Means of Egress §[C26-604.4] 27-371 Doors. (2)b.

[2] Meisel, Elliot. (Aug. 2016) “Q&A: Can a co-op board restrict outside contractors from working on a religious holiday?” The Cooperator New York. Available at: https://cooperator.com/article/qa-losing-my-religion.  Accessed on Dec. 1, 2017.

10 Nov 2017
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What To Do With A/C Window Units

As the temperature drops, New Yorkers have the decision of leaving their window air-conditioning unit in or taking it out. There is nothing attractive about A/C window units. In the summer they are definitely worth it to combat the grueling heat, but in the fall and winter they are simply aesthetically unpleasing, take up precious window space, obstruct natural light and views, and tend to cause a draft.

For larger apartments with an abundance of natural light, it is less of a burden to live with. Others might live in very warm buildings during the winter and may either appreciate the draft or even want to use the A/C to cool down their apartment.  If a draft is your concern however, simply insulate the area by covering the A/C unit and line the space around it.

For those who decide to take their units out as the temperature continues to drop, it is best to ask for professional help, such as a member of staff in your building who is permitted and has experience with removing A/C window units. It is advised for people to seek professional help when removing their unit because if something goes wrong, such as the unit falling out of the window, you can be held liable for any damage or injury.

“[I]f, despite your best efforts, the A/C still falls out your window? … such an occurrence falls under the personal liability portion of most renters insurance policies, which typically covers at least $100,000 worth of damage” as long as the A/C was not intentionally pushed out.[1] “All it takes is one air-conditioner dropping out the window and killing someone”.[2] Every couple of years there will be a report of someone being injured from a falling A/C unit, however, it is very unlikely the injury will cause death. The easiest option is to hire an insured company who checks all the boxes by removing the unit in the fall, cleaning and storing it in their facilities, and then reinstalling it in the spring.

What are the rules and regulations governing the safety of A/C units? These units fall under the ambit of Local Law 11 (1998),[3] which deals with requirements, examinations and safety measures of exterior walls and appurtenances thereof. NYC Buildings has also published guidelines for purchasing and installing A/C units, which can be found here.[4]

[1] Hochbaum Rosner, L. (June 2, 2016) “It’s A/C Season: Here’s what you need to know now.” Brick Underground. Available at: https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2013/05/summer_s_coming_what_you_need_to_know_as_ac_season_nears. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[2] Kaysen, R. (Nov. 3, 2017) “The Window Air-Conditioner: Should It Stay or Go?” New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/realestate/window-air-conditioner-should-it-stay-or-go.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Frealestate&action=click&contentCollection=realestate&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[3] Local Law 1998/011. Available at: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=430651&GUID=CBDD1499-69BF-47D6-9BE0-CD562575BBBE&Options=ID%7CText%7C&Search=building. Accessed on Nov. 10, 2017.

[4] https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/homeowner/installing-air-conditioning-unit.page

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