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Legal & Liability Issues for Programs & Activities: Get Covered

As more and more co-ops and condominium communities seek to attract residents, boards and managers have turned to attractive new programming opportunities for individuals and families. Whether it’s a rooftop Fourth of July party, a gardening workshop, or an off-site

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Liability & the Law: Reducing Liabilities in Co-op & Condo Communities

It’s no secret that insurance is a necessity for any building or association. Nevertheless, the expense of coverage means that issues of liability and risk are all too often examined only after problems have occurred. Usually, insurance holders address matters

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Emails Are a Legal Minefield for Co-op and Condo Boards (NY)

A recent decision by the state’s highest court drives home a lesson every co-op and condo board member needs to heed: if you use your employer’s computer, tablet, or smart phone to communicate board business, expect zero privacy. While the

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How Condo and Co-op Communities Take Advantage of Outdoor Environs

Most people don’t usually think of New York City for its ample greenery. Crowds, traffic, and tall buildings–there’s a reason why it’s usually referred to as a “concrete jungle”. While the Big Apple has its lovely parks, including the most

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Beware When Revising Your Pet Policy

Want to make sure you get a quorum at your annual meeting? Announce that the board is going to discuss one or more of the following: redoing the lobby; raising maintenance; modifying the building’s pet policy.  “Any change to a

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Pool Safety: Don’t Let an Amenity Become a Liability

According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), there are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an agency that is independent of the US government, states

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Appeals Court Reverses Big Smoking Verdict Against Co-op (NY)

A year ago, state Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron sent shivers through New York City’s co-op community when he ruled that Susan Reinhard, a shareholder at the Connaught Tower co-op at 300 East 54 Street, was entitled to $120,000 in

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Protecting That Nest Egg Called the Reserve Fund

Is an investment-policy statement right for your board?  Like any co-op or condo board, you keep a reserve fund for capital projects and emergency repairs. In fact, the New York Cooperative Corporations Law requires that boards “periodically set aside reasonable

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From the Court to the Board: Lessons From Recent Decisions (NY)

Over the past few months there have been several interesting and insightful court decisions. Here are a few legal cases that provide some helpful lessons for boards and managers alike.   Read the article………….

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Co-op conflicts: Lawsuits challenge Rombout Village fines

The residents had something else in common. Each had challenged the actions and authority of the co-op’s board of directors, its property manager or both.  Now, Rombout Village’s management is back in a familiar place — state Supreme Court. The

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A New Tool in the Condo Collection Kit (NY)

Co-ops have more leverage, but there are ways for condos to collect arrears.  At a luxury Chelsea condominium called the Heywood, the condo board used an ingenious strategy to collect from a unit-owner who owed $100,000 in unpaid common charges,

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Dogs Take a Huge Bite of Homeowner Liability Claims

Dog bites man, man sues board. Are you adequately insured?  “My dog doesn’t bite.”  Don’t believe those four innocent words. Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability claims paid out in 2016

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Condo Boards Have a New Tool for Collecting Arrears

Court ruling gives condo boards a new way to evict delinquent unit-owners.  When it comes to evicting residents, co-op boards have traditionally enjoyed a bigger arsenal than their condo counterparts. But condo boards are not without their weapons. And that

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When Boards Have to Fight for What’s Right (NY)

Sometimes, co-op and condo boards have to be willing to fight for what’s right. That was certainly the case for Larry Kelter, who got hit with a one-two punch after becoming board president at the Hamlet at Windwatch, a 228-unit

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Making Special Assessments Work: Fixed Incomes, Low Incomes, & Hard Times

For residents on fixed incomes, or those who are already struggling to make ends meet because of a job loss, illness or divorce, any hit to their already-stretched-to-the-max budget can be devastating. So when a board levels an assessment on

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How Should Boards Handle the Reporting of a Crime?

A burglar slipped into a Hudson Heights co-op as a shareholder was leaving the building, then proceeded to steal a laundry cart and some packages. The theft was reported to police, but it took the co-op board almost two weeks

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Serve on the Board – or Pay Up

Here’s a novel way to fill those unfillable vacancies on a co-op board.  Many co-ops struggle mightily to find people willing to take on the thankless job of board service. That’s not surprising. The job comes with some to-die-for perks,

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One Board President’s On-the-Job Training

John F. Kennedy said, famously, that there’s no school for presidents. The only way to learn the job is by doing it. The same goes for presidents of co-op and condo boards. Just ask Darren Arithoppah.  Like many of the

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How to Avoid Becoming a Money Laundry

Boards have tools to keep unsavory buyers out of their buildings.  In response to an influx of Limited Liability Companies – also known as LLC’s, or shell companies – paying cash for pricey apartments in New York City, the U.S.

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As More Americans Work From Home, Co-op Boards Need to Adapt

Can a co-op board stop a shareholder from giving tuba lessons at home?  More and more people are working for themselves, and more and more of them are working from home. Today, according to the Freelancers Union, more than one

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New Software Keeps Managers on a Shorter Leash

Maria Palumbo was getting an earful. The shareholders at Carmil Apartments, a 100-unit, two-building co-op in Kew Gardens, Queens, were unhappy with management, and they wanted Palumbo and her six fellow board members to do something about it.  “I was

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Handling Touchy Complaints in Co-Ops and Condos: It’s About Sense and Sensitivity

Conflict comes hand-in-hand with living in close quarters. Such is the nature of condominium and cooperative living. Some dust-ups between neighbors are settled with a polite conversation, or a mild nudge from the condo or co-op board. Others can get

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The Expensive Surprises That Lurk Behind Walls (NY)

Sometimes, maintaining the facade of a building can be a bit like peeling an onion. The deeper you go, the more you find. After workers removed the outer brick layer of the exterior walls at 700 Park Avenue, the co-op

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Handling Maintenance and Repairs: In-House, Or Outsource?

In the wake of the recession and facing an uncertain economic climate on the heels of a tumultuous presidential election, condo, co-op, and HOA boards may instinctively want to pinch pennies where they can, especially when it comes to maintenance

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The Road to Self-Management: Independence Has Its Pros and Cons

Management by definition is a process; a series of ongoing systems and controls put in place with a specific outcome in mind. The management needs and requirements of HOAs, co-ops and condominiums have helped define the overall property management industry.

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Putting a Premium on Your Insurance Coverage: A Guide to Understanding Condominium Property Claims

Even with proper risk management best practices, it’s impossible to completely avoid all types of insurance claims from happening. At heart, a claim is like any other business dealing—a negotiation. Your ability to convincingly argue your position and support it

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Plumbing the Depths: Pipes, Drains and Your HOA’s Water Supply

Of all the modern conveniences we take for granted, perhaps none is as profoundly basic—and indispensable—as indoor plumbing. Carrying fresh water into our homes and taking waste water away, the pipes in our condo or co-op buildings are the fine

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A No-Pet Policy Is Not Enough

There is no shortage of scams people use to get a bogus “support pet” into a no-pet building, and there are ways to keep them out. But every co-op and condo board needs to treat every “reasonable accommodation” request seriously.

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Handling Maintenance and Repairs: In-House, Or Outsource?

In the wake of the recession and facing an uncertain economic climate on the heels of a tumultuous presidential election, condo, co-op, and HOA boards may instinctively want to pinch pennies where they can, especially when it comes to maintenance

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Is There a Better Way to Hire a Management Company?

Some boards use Requests for Proposals to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Hiring a new management company is a delicate dance for any co-op or condo board, and there’s no textbook that lays out the best moves. But a

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When the Sponsor Won’t Let Go (NY)

Roy Smith moved into the Wainwright, a 67-unit rental building in Forest Hills, Queens, back in the fall of 1990. When the building was converted to a condominium two years later, Smith was able to buy his apartment at the

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Has Your Insurance Got You Covered?

Does your insurance company play fair and square with you?  Not always, asserts attorney Tara Snow, a partner at Novitt, Sahr & Snow. And if you are not on the ball, you could lose significant coverage.  Snow points to a

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No More Fear of Flooding (NY)

A determined co-op board overcomes years of watery misery.  The Brooklands complex opened in 1927 on the wedge of land formed by the confluence of the Sprain Brook and the Bronx River in the Bronxville section of Yonkers, just north

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Does Your Pet Policy Have Enough Bite?

While many co-op boards struggle to ban bogus “support pets,” there’s a co-op in East Harlem with such a liberal pet policy that dogs of any size or breed are allowed. When a subletter acquired a pit bull, residents started

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Want to Sue? You’ll Have to Pay to Play (NY)

Despite the crazy illogic of it, some cooperatives and condominiums are repeatedly sued by litigious residents who disagree with the board’s decisions. One co-op I represent even had shareholders who were attorneys, which enabled them to sue without charging themselves

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Is Your Fire Insurance Full of Hot Air?

It was one of the worst fires in Catskills history: The 396-unit Grandview Palace Condominiums, formerly the fabled Brown’s Hotel in the Borscht Belt, erupted in flames on April 14, 2012. Seven of its nine buildings were destroyed, though none

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Taking It to the Streets: Dealing With Conflicts Outside Your Condo or Co-op (NY)

The day-to-day operation of a residential condo or co-op can certainly be a handful for its board of trusted volunteers. But not to add insult to injury, communal living doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and there are likely to be

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Court Clarifies Condo Owners’ Right to Inspect (NY)

In its 2013 decision in Pomerance v. McGrath (Pomerance I),1 as noted by one of the authors in a prior article on the subject,2 the Appellate Division, the First Department handed down the first appellate decision delineating the rights of

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I think I was turned down by a co-op based on my race. What do I do? (NY)

If you think you have a discrimination case on your hands, the key to success will be proving that the board rejected you for discriminatory reasons, says Steven Wagner, a co-op and condo attorney with Wagner Berkow LLP and a

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Don’t Let Your Co-op Become a Pigeon Coop (NY)

Boards need to be take firm steps to combat rats with wings.  Sane New Yorkers regard them as rats with wings, and they make use of the many tools to combat pigeons on their property. But things get complicated when

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Surveillance Technology: How Much Does Your Building Really Need?

Gone are the days of windowless rooms filled with bulky recording equipment, multiple flickering screens, and file cabinets full of disks containing endless hours of footage. The state of the art in surveillance equipment today is all about pixels, thumb

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Board Power: Its Sources, Its Uses, Its Limits (NY)

Today’s boards owe a debt of gratitude to Ronald Levandusky and his kitchen.  In 1990, a man named Ronald Levandusky wanted to remodel his kitchen at One Fifth Avenue. In the process, he changed the position of a two-inch steam

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When Dealing With Illegal Pets, Time Matters

Co-op and condo boards need to move swiftly – and cautiously – when enforcing pet bans.  When dealing with illegal pets in a no-pet building, time is of the essence. The state Pet Law requires the landlord to begin an

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Courts Open the Vault to Co-op and Condo Documents (NY)

Brenda Pomerance, a patent lawyer and unit-owner at Link condominium at 310 W. 52nd Street, has been in court since 2011 fighting to gain access to board documents. Pomerance, who suspected the board of serious mismanagement, wanted to get the

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The High-Wire Act of Revealing – and Concealing – Co-op Documents

A Greenwich Village co-op board holds an annual meeting but then fails to dispense the meeting minutes to shareholders. This led one frustrated shareholder to pose a question to the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times: “Does

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Your Professionals Should Stay Out of Board Politics

It seems to happen year after year after year: An entrenched board refuses to hold elections or annual meetings.  At one such co-op with the same board members “for almost 20 years,” writes a shareholder, a meeting finally was scheduled

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The Art of Squeezing Money from Your Building (NY)

Savvy co-op and condo boards are perpetually on the lookout for ways to raise revenue so they can meet rising expenses while keeping monthly maintenance low. Boards have been known to sell their air rights or rent roof space for

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How to Deal with Hoarders in Your Condo or Co-op

Everyone loves to own things—sometime even many things. But occasionally, ownership of things can go too far and accumulation can grow problematic. In the modern parlance, a too-many-thing-haver is often referred to as a “hoarder,” an individual who can prove

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Board Powers Are Immense, but Not Limitless

The Toren Condominium, designed by the estimable firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and featuring a striking “rhombus-shaped tower,” generated a lot of oohs and ahhs when it opened in downtown Brooklyn in 2010. The 38-story, 240-unit luxury tower also

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New York and Airbnb head back to court over illegal short-term rentals, and it may all come down to the Communications Decency Act

In a spate of cases across the country, Airbnb is opening up a line of attack that pits Internet freedom against land use regulation. The shield Airbnb seeks to use these days is primarily the Communication Decency Act Section 230,

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