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.”