When Repairs Need to Be Done Taking Responsibility

When you live in a Manhattan co-op or condo, one of the things that you need to be aware of is what sort of building systems exist on the property, and more importantly, which of these you are accountable for.

When it comes to most buildings systems, such as HVAC or security, the responsibility falls to the building itself to maintain and repair. But the responsibility for all systems is not so clear cut. Especially for elements like pipes and radiators that are part of a building-wide system, but which terminate in private apartments.

“Each proprietary lease should be reviewed to determine where the cooperative’s responsibility ends and the apartment owner’s responsibility begins,” says David L. Berkey, Esq., a managing partner of Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP, a law firm specializing in real estate law and associated practice areas in Manhattan. “Many leases, over time, have been amended to reflect the actual construction of an individual building and the terms of one lease can not be relied upon as a form for all buildings.”

There are many variations, both in the language of the proprietary lease and in the policies adopted by boards regarding repairs. That’s why it’s vital to clarify who is liable for repairs, upkeep and maintenance for all building systems before something happens and you’re left footing the bill for the damage.

Up to the Building

“The typical cooperative is responsible for every portion of the building except that which is specified to be the obligation of the shareholder,” says Marcie Waterman Murray, an attorney with the co-op/condo law firm of Deutsch Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, PC in Manhattan. “The typical condo is responsible for those building portions designated as common elements—roof, building walls, elevators, public hallways—depending on the language in the declaration.”

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15 Comments

  • is a leaky valve located inside the wall usually considered the building reponsibilty
  • I am interested in buying a coop apartment in nyc. Where do I find the building with vacancies and income criteria?
  • I am an owner of an Upper Eastside condo. Who is responsible for the repair to a damaged window frame in the absence of a "maintenance and repairs" section of the building bylaws?
  • hectorcupey3486@aol.com on Monday, September 12, 2011 2:56 PM
    i am a shareholder of a co-op apartment .my living room radiator is spitting lots of water. management says i have to fix problem.i thought is management is responsible.
  • What is the situation when the coop has modified its standard form proprietary lease to make the tenant-shareholder of one apartment responsible for all repairs of the roof and parapet? Can that general burden be legally transferred to a single shareholder?
  • I am a coop shareholder of an apt in Queens. The electrical wiring of the apartment and the building was never upgraded since 1955. Isn't this the responsibility of the Cooperative Owner ?
  • We bought a coop apt in which the former shareholder replaced the original radiator. It does not give enough heat and we need to replace it again. My question is if the Bd approved the replacement and the heat we receive is below code regulations who is responsible to pay for the needed new radiator, us or the coop?
  • @Mary, you bring up an interesting point on the radiator. The previous Shareholder-tenant replaced the radiator and it is no longer the original equipment that was installed in the building. In a normal situation where it is the original equipment, I would lean more towards this being an integral part of the building's heating system and should be a Cooperative issue to ensure proper heating throughout. As you mentioned this is a replacement radiator to begin with, so the previous Shareholder took the Cooperative out of the line of responsibility as it shouldn't be the Coop's responsibility to care for and ensure proper performance of an upgraded or replaced part. Hope that helps.
  • We are renting in a condo apt in lower manhattan. The heating/cooling system in the apartment is the original system. The AC does not work in the living room and did not work from when we moved in. We just found that out when we tried to run it and it blew hot air. The unit owner refuses to pay to fix it, though he paid for the company to come look at it and give an estimate cost of repair. The property manager tells me it is the unit owners responsibility yet he still refuses. what can I do?
  • i am planning to buy a unit on the top floor [3] of a building. 'my unit' has a patio which has a roof built on it by a previous owner [not part of the original construction] in order to provide shade. the roof is not connected to the outer wall of the unit. there seems to be some water seepage along the wall to the units below, however no damage to the other units has yet been reported by their owners. i am planning to have the roof of the patio fixed so that it is up to code and drains correctly. my question is - who is responsible for any damage that may have been caused [by the leaking roof on 'my patio'] but has not yet been detected? thanx!
  • I recently moved in to a co-op and everything seemed fine. I purchased walls-in insurance as required by the co-op board. I was informed that any repairs I made to plumbing or electrical needed to be performed by licensed, insured tradesmen. Three days after I moved in, my toilet began leaking in to the unit below me, causing significant damage. It appears the owner before me had a friend (not approved) do plumbing work which turned out to be sub-standard. Now the management company is billing me close to $3,000 for repairs. What are my options? Obviously, the co-op board and management company did not vet the vendor. Should I challenge the management company? Sue the previous owner?
  • We bought a co-op and apparently all the wiring to the intercom, for all 12 apartments are in our apartment, in my closet. Every time that someone's intercom does not work, management starts calling me and sends annoying workers who start knocking on my door to fix someone's intercom. It's a serious nuisance. One time someone's intercom broke, management sent 4 different workers to fix and I had to be home to let them in. Is that even legal? Shouldn't the intercom system be in a public space and can I sue to get it removed from my apartment? Me and my husband were not aware of this issue until after we bought the apartment.
  • I live in a coop and it is undergoing concrete restoration. They are working 7 days a week until 800 pm. Is thus allowed as when we do construction in our unit it is only 6 days a week until 500 pm. Please help. I see nothing in my bylaws about that.
  • I'm a shareholder in a co-op built in 1933 in Brooklyn, NY. We needed to re-wire our entire unit due to the original brittle wires. Because the wiring is in the walls should the management company be paying for the work? In the end, they will be better off for what we are currently doing.
  • The convector leaked in my LR. after they installed a new boilier The wood floor came up. I had a floating floor installed on top of the wood flooring. I had to remove the floating floor . The inspector informed me that he could put down a new floor that would not come up. My question is who is responsible for paying to have my floating floor reinstalled/ which will cost about 400 .00. I live in coop city located in the bronx