Q&A: Paying for Home Improvement

Q “I live in a co-op in Queens. The front door to my apt. is being replaced—due to its extreme age it is no longer functioning properly. The manager informed me that I will be responsible for providing all of the hardware for this door—which includes a particular type of lock and handle, large metal mail slot, and even the hinges. This will cost over $120 because of the exact type of items needed to fit this particular door. Is this really my financial obligation? I thought the co-op was responsible for providing me with a working door.”

A —Aggrieved Apartment Owner

"Under applicable law,” says attorney Aaron Shmulewitz, a partner with the New York law firm of Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLP, “it is the obligation of the cooperative, as owner of the building, to provide a working, secure entrance door to the apartment, including at least one lock and a peephole. A shareholder, as tenant of the apartment, has the right to add an additional lock at his/her expense, but must provide a key to the cooperative. If the special lock, handle, mail slot and hinges on the prior door are not standard building equipment and were installed by the shareholder (or a predecessor), then the cooperative would be within its rights to require that the shareholder pay for their replacement. However, if those accessories are standard features in this building, then the co-op (and not the shareholder) must pay for them.”

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