The dreaded phrase “maintenance increase” is two words that most co-op owners may not want to hear, but sometimes it is necessary for a building’s board to make the unpopular decision of raising fees. With rising operating costs, fuel and insurance rates climbing, and the need for periodic emergency repairs, raising maintenance fees often is not only a necessity but may even be advisable.
“It’s totally dependent on economic consistency,” says Jeff Heidings of Siren Management Corp. in Manhattan. “Sometimes it needs to be done, or else there can be serious problems within the building.”
Having low maintenance fees can be an attractive selling point. Some buildings in Manhattan may pride themselves on not having increased maintenance for decades, but maintenance that’s too low can cause a host of problems on its own—from issues with the 80/20 rule to coming up short in cases of emergency.
As much as owners don’t want to hear that their maintenance will be increased, boards never like to increase their shareholders’ monthly payments but they know that it is a responsibility of their job to be proactive about protecting their building’s well-being and keeping their investment financially and physically sound.
Time Has Come
So how does a board know when that time is? Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes not so much. If the building is hemorrhaging money in nickel-and-dime repairs of a physical problem that needs a decisive, long-term solution, an increase may be put into effect. Other times, a good board will notice that a potentially bad situation is ahead, and fixes the problem with an increase before the problem mushrooms into a full-blown crisis.