2008 Oct

2008 October Vol. 28, No. 10

Focus on...Board Operations

Good Interactions Between Co-op Boards and Shareholders

By Lenore Barton

Although it is frequently assumed that cooperative boards of directors are totally responsible for all building decisions, typically they are assisted by a large group of professional consultants who not only guide them but also sometimes make the day-to-day decisions on their behalf. When a shareholder has an issue or a proposal, it’s wise to try to determine the best course of communication before contacting the board. Read More

Q&A: Guest Parking Violations

By Mark H. Schneider

The co-op I live in has its own parking. Even stockholders must purchase a parking pass if they wish to use the lot. In order to make it convenient for my son to visit me, I bought him an annual pass to the parking lot. My son is an adult, not a resident, and not a stockholder. He received several parking tickets and now the co-op wants me to pay them. Can the co-op hold me responsible for the actions of my son? Read More

Q&A: Where's the Heat?

By Sandra Jacobus

The co-op my mother lives in, in Queens, has a unique way of saving on heating expenses. First, from October to May, maintenance fees are raised for the fuel used during those months. Secondly, the heat is shut off completely at night. The heat goes on at 6:00 a.m., to warm the apartments, and then at 10:00 a.m. completely shuts off until 5:00 p.m. It then stays on until 10:00 p.m. and after that shuts off all night until 6:00 a.m. the following morning. Read More

A Tree-Lined Oasis

By Liz Lent

It’s a pretty name for a pretty neighborhood. Located in the southern end of Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens has long been a destination for those in search of a little greenery to go with their city living. With its park, its tree-lined streets and the glorious gardens that fill the front yards of its brownstones, the neighborhood can be seen as an oasis of sorts. In recent years, it has grown in popularity and is a residential area of choice for families looking to settle down and commuters looking for a respite from the big city. Read More

Paying Attention Now Can Save Headaches Later

By Peter J. Grech

We are all taught to “Look at the Big Picture.” That was a common phrase back in the 1980s when managers focused on how their actions resonated with the mission statement and goals of the corporation; whether that corporation was IBM, the U.S. Army, or your condo or co-op building on Park Avenue. Read More

Inside the New York City Loft Board

By Emily Abbate

Ever since New York City was New Amsterdam, landlords have made extra money by converting unused space in their buildings into residential lofts. While many apartment-seekers gravitated toward these conversions, artists, bohemians, and other creative types were the quintessential tenants—the large, open-plan loft spaces made ideal live/work studios, and they were often to be found in emerging neighborhoods where rents were relatively cheap, even if amenities were rustic. Read More

It's Worth the Effort

By David Kuperberg, CPM

We’ve all heard that “first impressions are important” when meeting people; so too with buildings. A potential buyer’s or visitor’s first impression often determines their opinion of the building and its apartments and has a dramatic impact on their decision to buy or rent. At Cooper Square Realty, we call it “curb appeal.” Read More

IREM Celebrates its Anniversary

By Hannah Fons

This year, the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) is celebrating its 75th anniversary. For three-quarters of a century now, IREM has provided education, resources, information and membership to real estate management professionals all across the country. With 80 chapters in the United States and eight more abroad serving more than 18,000 individual and some 500 corporate members, IREM is the only professional real estate management association offering guidance and advocacy to both the residential and commercial real estate sectors. Read More

Play Spaces and Children's Programming

By Sam Nixon

Gone are the days when you could give your kids some coloring books or Legos and expect them to amuse themselves for hours. Nowadays, play spaces and children’s amenities have become crucial aspects in the marketing and sales of New York City’s residential buildings. As new condo construction has boomed in the city, the importance of amenities to sway buyers has taken striking prevalence, for parents and kids alike. If you thought the sauna was fun, get ready for Nintendo Wii. Read More

Picking a Few Good Apples

By Hannah Fons

These days, there’s no shortage of articles in magazines, newspapers, and online about how time-crunched most people feel. Between work, family obligations, long commutes, and a vast array of other factors vying for attention and precious minutes, getting anybody to devote still more time (without compensation, no less) to their building’s administration can be a very tough sell. Read More

Recent Legal Case Addresses ADA Issues

By Hannah Fons

Co-op boards are often faced with difficult judgment calls; on the one hand, it’s the duty of board members to safeguard their fellow shareholders’ investments and overall quality of life. On the other hand, they must carry out that duty on the right side of the law, or risk serious legal penalties for themselves and their cooperative corporation at large. The issues of disability, disclosure versus privacy, and reasonable accommodation are tightly interwoven in the context of a co-op building’s admissions process. Navigating these issues requires great care on the part of admissions committees to insure that the building’s board makes sound decisions without infringing on the rights of a prospective buyer. Read More

In Your Place, In Their Place?

By Greg Olear

Though many co-op buildings forbid subletting for an array of reasons, some co-op (and many more condo) buildings have populations of rental tenants residing in them. The arrangement is mostly peaceful and drama-free, but friction does occasionally arise between rental tenants and fully vested shareholders, often over issues with house rules or conflicts between neighbors. Read More

Increasing Revenue Without Increasing Maintenance Fees

By Stephanie Mannino

In today’s economic climate, many of the city’s co-ops and condos have begun to feel the pinch as they struggle to pay their bills. Often, buildings are forced to raise maintenance fees to make ends meet. And while maintenance fees or special assessments might be the most common methods of increasing available funds, they are certainly not the only ways to do it. And when the most common options are not doable, some boards are getting creative. Read More

Design Solutions for Small Spaces

By Jonathan J. Levin

Real estate in the Big Apple like any large metropolis is expensive, and that often means making due with a small apartment. Small spaces present many functional and aesthetic problems—lack of storage, oppressive walls, etc. Fortunately, with a few design tricks from the experts, tenants can make their apartments cozy instead of cramped and even create the illusion that a space is larger that it really is. Read More

Sharing Difficult Decisions with Residents

By Liz Lent

Like telling kids the awful truth about Santa Claus or deciding to spend the holiday bonus on treasury bonds instead of a trip to the Bahamas, sometimes we all have to say or do unpleasant or unpopular things. The same is true for co-op and condo board members, most of whom will one day face the dreary prospect of raising maintenance fees, instituting assessments or levying flip taxes. Those tasks may come with the territory but that doesn’t make it any easier for the men and women who have to step forth and break the news to friends and neighbors alike. Read More

Developing an Online Presence

By Keith Loria

Nowadays people are using their computers to connect to the Internet for just about every facet of their lives. Whether it’s buying cheap airline tickets, making reservations at their favorite restaurant or connecting with old friends on Facebook, most people are parked in front of their computer screens or connect remotely with their BlackBerry or iPhone at all hours of the day or night. Read More

Seeing Through it All

By Jonathan Barnes

Any relationship depends upon effective communication to function properly. In a co-op or condo, the relationship between the board and managing agent, or between the board and the shareholders, all have boundaries regarding what is acceptable for discussion, and what information is available to inquisitive eyes. Documents that a board member could be privy to might be sealed to nearly all others, while legally speaking, some community records should be available for the asking to every resident of a building. Read More

Avoiding Sticky Situations

By Raanan Geberer

Most co-op and condo boards that hire managing agents, rather than manage themselves with in-house staff, are reasonably satisfied with them. After all, the managers are presumably trained and experienced professionals. Read More

The Key to Board Efficiency

By Lisa Iannucci

Until recently, Claudia Tracey worked full time in a position that required an extensive amount of travel. At the same time she was, and still is, board president at Hampton Vistas Condominiums in Manorville, New York, which just went through an $860,000 assessment for major renovation work spread out among 48 owners. Their typical monthly board meetings turned into weekly meetings until the assessment was complete. Read More

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