Q&A: Cost Responsibilities

Who is responsible for chimney maintenance in a New York City co-op? (Not all the apartments have fireplaces.) Also, who is responsible for  repairing/replacing windows? My apartment is a loft with unique windows that are not easily repaired or  replaced.  

 --Strapped Mom

 “Assuming that there is no provision in the co-op’s proprietary lease making chimney maintenance the tenant-shareholder’s responsibility, I would say that the co-op (the apartment corporation) is  clearly responsible for chimney maintenance,” says Stanley M. Kaufman of Kaufman Friedman Plotnicki & Grun, LLP in New York City. “Under the typical proprietary lease, the lessee is responsible for interior  repairs, or repairs within the walls of the apartment. Since chimneys (as  distinguished from the fireplaces themselves) are not within the interior walls  of the apartment—although perhaps a creative argument can be made that they are—the co-op should be responsible for their maintenance. This conclusion is  supported by common sense (would a co-op want a shareholder to be responsible  to hire workers who would have to work on the roof or other exterior portions  of the building?) as well as the fact that the New York City Building Code  imposes various chimney maintenance obligations upon the building owner, and in  certain instances upon an adjacent building owner who is constructing or  enlarging its building to make it higher.  

 “The question of who is responsible for the repair or replacement of windows is  governed by the co-op’s proprietary lease. While the standard residential proprietary lease imposes  upon the co-op the obligation to repair and replace windows, in some co-ops  that we have represented, particularly in loft buildings, the lessee (the  tenant-shareholder) is expressly made responsible for window repair and  replacement. It should be noted that the co-op, as owner of the building, is  ultimately responsible for complying with building and housing maintenance code  requirements regarding windows, and the co-op may not avoid its responsibility  for code compliance. However, as between the co-op and its shareholders, the  proprietary lease may allocate these responsibilities to the shareholders.”  

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5 Comments

  • lynn Loosier - Kay&B on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 5:19 PM
    radiators in newly renovated sponsor apts that will be sold and then be a part of the co-op. Does the co-op pay for those new radiators or the sponsor who is selling the apts and getting all the profit?
  • I bought a coop apartment and just found out that the bedroom has no radiator. Probably the previous owner took it out. Who is responsible for buying the radiator? It is definitely cold now (Jan. 2014!)
  • What if the chimney flue was cemented over at time of purchase of the apt and stated in the lease that it did not exist? Does the coop have to pay to "restore" it to origin condition from at least 50 years ago?
  • Excellent explanation !
  • Can a coop ban use of the fireplace that has been working and in unit since it was sold to us? The fireplace was in our apartment since we bought it. It needs maintenance but coop is refusing to allow us to install a chimney fan, vent, nor allow us access to roof to do so. They keep hiring vendors then using stall tactics when vendor comes up with same solution we recommended years ago (chimney fan.0 Can they legally do this? No working fireplace lowers value of our unit.