New York based property management firm, All Area Realty Services blog. Find tips for Co-Op Boards & Residential Building Management.

Thinking About Serving On Your Co-Op or Condo Board? Here Is What To Expect

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Jan 10, 2019 11:25:16 AM

Help Wanted: Looking for long hours, huge financial responsibility and good listener for no pay and no benefits. Who would be interested in a job like this? You would be surprised because this is a job listing for co-op and condo boards and thousands of people have served gratis. Since serving on a co-op or condo board is long hours and many responsibilities, many people think that board members should be paid.

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There are arguments for and against paying board members. One argument for paying is that board members make huge financial decisions regarding the building and invest numerous hours of personal time.  An argument against paying board members is that it should be considered doing your civic duty to make sure that your community runs the best that it can and at the most, they should get a thank you holiday dinner at the end of the year.

There are no laws prohibiting paying board members. However, most condo by-laws include a provision which states that no board member shall receive any compensation for being on the board. Bylaws could be changed by an amendment, which requires a vote from the unit-owners. 

Co-ops have proprietary leases and these might or might not have a provision restricting payment to the board. Some leases prohibit payment unless the shareholders vote to pay the board members. Others do not include this restriction. A note to the board, you should always put a vote to the shareholders before agreeing that board members must be paid because if the majority does not agree then it could be a breach of your duty as a board member. iStock-960885394

In smaller buildings, it could be beneficial for the board to be paid because they are taking care of the finances and the building can save money by not hiring a management company. Compensation could be doled out according to the amount of time a board member needs to accomplish the job. If the co-op or condo decides not to pay the board, they could offer an incentive such as free parking or a maintenance reduction. However, this could be a slippery slope and some board members might feel that they do more work than others and should be paid more. Also, another downside is that by being paid, certain board members might want to hold on to the position, which could create favoritism or a spoils system.

New York City seems to favor volunteer boards and paid boards are quite rare. Therefore, if you are looking to join your condo or co-op board, you most likely will not get paid.

All Area Realty Services knows what it takes to manage buildings professionally and efficiently, and just as important - keeping residents happy.  With over 30 years of experience, and many of our clients with us for decades, you can trust All Area Realty Services with taking care of your building.  

 

Topics: Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board

A Co-Op Board Fights Sublets with Airbnb Records

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Nov 15, 2018 1:17:37 PM

In recent news, a co-op board filed a lawsuit to terminate a tenant's proprietary lease due to illegal subletting. The co-op building's property manager caught some suspicious looking visitors coming and going from the accused resident’s apartment. He notified the board immediately, and with some digging, they found the tenant was subletting the space on Airbnb. Eventually, due to the resident’s unwavering denial, the co-op board had to subpoena Airbnb’s records for indisputable proof. To this day the case is still ongoing in court. Here are three steps you can take to prevent a similar scenario from happening in your building.

Preventative Measures

If resident’s renting out their apartment, on major concern is that there needs to be policies in place that make Airbnb-ing more difficult. Some examples are:

  • A rule prohibiting guests from staying in an apartment without the tenant-shareholder.
  • Prohibiting doormen from holding keys for guests.
  • Prohibiting the doormen from allowing guests in who haven’t been approved.
  • A rule prohibiting guests from entering who aren’t accompanied by the apartment owner.
  • Creating a system where guests have to register with the building before entering. 

These rules if enacted make it harder for residents to have a constant flow of strange guests entering and leaving the building. 

First Warnings 

If a unit owner has found a way around the rules and is using the apartment as a short-term rental, the first step is to send a letter to the resident demanding they stop. This letter does not have to be a formal warning and can come from the board or your property manager. Although a lawyer is not necessary at this point, but a lawyer could also send the warning letter. 

If the resident ignores the first warning and persists, the next step is to check your by-laws. These will hold all the provisions against short-term rentals and rules informing you how to notarize the resident that they are in violation. You should have a formal warning written up and signed by the co-op board president. A formal notification such as this will put your board in proper legal standing, if legal action becomes necessary. 

It is important to note that in co-ops the board is also required to notify the tenant-shareholder’s lender. This may seem like an annoying extra hoop to have to jump through, but it actually could work in your favor. The lender may also start urging the tenant to stop subletting the apartment, giving the tenant extra pressure to cease their activities. 

For condos the by-laws may give the board the right to fine a resident for violating the rules of the building. This could prove to be a helpful step in preventing legal action. 

Taking Legal Action

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After you send a formal warning the owner or shareholder has 30 days to end their illegal activities. If they continue to rent out the apartment, your next step is to check the by-laws or proprietary lease for your building's policies on recovering legal fees from a resident

A co-op has the option to start the process of a “Pullman Case” to evict the shareholder on “objectionable conduct.” A condo has to go straight to the New York Supreme Court to request an action for declaratory judgment against the accused resident. This option is also available to co-ops, but unlike condos, they also have the choice of housing court

In court you'll need to state that by violating the rules, the owner is challenging the authority of the co-op board to enforce rules. Next, ask the court to declare that the board has the right to enforce the rule and permanently prohibit the owner or shareholder from violating the rules in the future. As long as you come prepared with evidence you should win the case. 

All in all legal action should be your last resort, as it can potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the stress and hassle of the process. The benefit of going to court is that if the resident fails to comply they can be held in contempt of court. Again, this should be a last resort. Hopefully, if you’re dealing with a resident who is renting out their apartment on Airbnb, or any other source, they will cease their disruptive activity after receiving their first warning. 

If you serve on a co-op board or condo board and need professional property management services, contact All Area Realty Services and find out why our over 30 years experience and loyal clients makes us experts.

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Board Lawsuit, Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board, Property Management

A Right Of First Refusal Explained by All Area Realty Services

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Nov 7, 2018 3:29:14 PM

In a condominium, unlike a co-op, the board doesn’t have a large amount of leeway when approving or rejecting a proposed sale. A Right of First Refusal is a way for the board to step into a proposed deal on a condominium on behalf of all unit owners, instead of allowing the deal to go through. 

When would a condo board use the Right of First Refusal?

The vast majority of the time the board will waive their Right of First Refusal and allow the sale/leasing of the property to progress. A couple of examples of when it would be in their interest to use their right are:

Example 1:

If there is a proposed sale between two family members at an extremely discounted price.

In this scenario, the building's board could buy the apartment to keep for staff, they could flip it at a higher price, or they could lease it out to a renter. The board would want to intervene in this scenario because if an apartment sells at a value much lower than the market value, it will affect the value of the whole building. 

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Example 2:

If the proposed sale is with such an objectionable purchaser that allowing them into the building could disturb the overall peace in the building or if they have a proven record of financial misdeeds. 

In this scenario, the board could again use their Right of First Refusal to prevent the purchaser from entering the building as an owner. 

How to discover if a condominium has a Right of First Refusal.

To find out if a condo has a Right of First Refusal you should refer to that buildings Offering Plan. It is important to investigate and discover if the building holds the right because not all condominiums do. Even some of the condos that do, only have the Right of First Refusal on their commercial units, if it is a mixed-use building. 

The truth is that the vast majority of condominium sales do go through undisturbed. However, it is important to always arm yourself with all the information before a major purchase, like that of a condo. A condominium could or could not have a Right to First Refusal, so it is important to look at the buildings Offering Plan to ensure that your purchase goes through smoothly and with the outcome you’ve hoped for.

If you serve on a co-op board or condo board and need professional property management services, contact All Area Realty Services and find out why our over 30 years experience and loyal clients makes us experts.

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Co-Op Building, Co-op Insurance, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board Lawsuit, Buying a Condo

What It’s Really Like Serving on a Co-Op Board

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Nov 2, 2018 5:14:02 PM

As all co-op board members will tell you, serving on a building's board brings with it a responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the entire building. The responsibilities of a board member can be demanding and time-consuming. Board members, more often than not, end up giving a substantial amount of their personal time to the demands of the position. That being said there are some alluring reasons to become a co-op board member, such as protecting one’s investment firsthand. Here are some more insights into being a board member.

How Much Time is Devoted to Duties?

If you’re on the board of a self-managed building the demands of the position can be great. Any problems that arise in the building must be handled by the board. This means that 30 to 40 percent of your personal time will most likely be devoted to waiting for contractors, interviewing contractors, or meeting with the other board members. 

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Running a co-op building is a full-time job. Some board members even record devoting a minimum of 40 hours per week to their duties as a board member. The truth is the time devoted to duties is variable depending on how available you as a board member would like to be. The more available you are though the more you get out of the process. Board members are there because they enjoy the job and the process, even with the time demands. 

It should be noted that hiring a property manager can greatly cut back on the time you devote to your duties. A property manager would take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to enjoy the position as a board member. 

Common Challenges 

Ever board is unique, but there are three challenges that almost all boards face. 

1. Financial Issues

This is a leading concern for any co-op board. Some boards have an in-house financial professional. While others have to look outside the co-op or condo for financial guidance. Controlling spending can be difficult, but having a treasurer on the board that has a background understanding of finances will help greatly. 

2. Starting Committees and Keeping Residents Involved

The best way to combat this issue is to keep all board members involved and encourage other shareholders to start committees that can make small, effective changes. It is important to have a system that allows for collaboration between staff members, board members, and shareholders on all committees. 

3. Dealing With Demanding Residents 

It can be difficult when dealing with residents that want something that just isn’t within budget or the board's power, and they won't take no for an answer. A board needs to remember this demanding resident is their neighbor, and to keep the communication open and peaceful. It is hard but a board has to stay impartial and treat every shareholder the same. Even the more difficult ones. 

Building Relationships

Building relationships with fellow board members and residents are key to preventing any major issues. You can build a great relationship by:

  • Having a newsletter
  • Contact through regular emails
  • Having a regularly updated website
  • Knowing every resident and board member's name
  • Introducing yourself to residents 

Even building a relationship with boards members of another co-op can help prevent major issues down the road by mutually sharing feedback and advice. 

Even though challenges and responsibilities are a part of every board, many board members feel it is a very rewarding position. They find the rewards may be intangible, but that doesn’t take away from the impact they have. On the other hand, some members find it too demanding and may only hold the position for one term. In the end, the most important fact is that every co-op and condo needs a helpful board that will protect everyone’s investment and keeps the building flourishing. 

Topics: Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board

A Co-Op Board President Speaks About Working With All Area Realty Services

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Oct 24, 2018 3:36:51 PM

I look back on my years as a president of my co-op board, before working with All Area Realty Services, with less than fond memories. Before hiring All Area as our property management firm, my job as a board president was a difficult and thankless job. All Area brought my board and I a sense of relief, and here are the 5 biggest ways they helped.

All Area Realty Services Helped Us Enter The Digital Age

All Area made my job easier by turning my board from a paperwork swamped office to a paperless uncluttered, efficient office. They took control of this transition alleviating me of stress or worry. By making us paperless All Area made it possible for shareholders and buyers to receive forms by email or from a website, fill them out on their computer, save a copy, and email the whole thin to All Area. Once All Area received all the paperwork they would forward the forms to each board member. This is not only great for the environment, but it also helped my board and I avoid major headaches that we once had to manage. 

They Helped Us Keep Our House Rules Updated

All Area helped not only the building staff stay on top of the house rules, but also reminded us when it was time to perhaps take an updated look at the rules. For example, one of our house rules was about how to properly dispose of household chemicals that we no longer used, and All Area helped by bringing this unnecessary rule to our eyes. It showed me that they take enforcing the rules seriously, and review our rules efficiently. They also helped guide us through updating the language used in our rules. They helped us simplify each rule so its intent was made obvious. 

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All Area Realty Services Opened Up Lines Of Communication

In my years of experience as a president of a board, I have realized that to many of the shareholders the inner workings of the board are a big mystery. This can make the board's decisions seem arbitrary. Understanding that we cannot open up the meeting to everyone, All Area helped make things more transparent for better communication. All Area did this by creating a newsletter that was created quarterly that included pressing neighborhood issues and a summary of the board meetings. Our shareholder’s really appreciated this new open communication. 

All Area Realty Services  Helped Us Take Advantage Of The Internet

All Area created a password-protected page dedicated to our building. This opened a venue for ongoing discussions of building issues and complaints.  

By Being An Amazing Property Management Company

The unfortunate truth I have discovered as a board president is that not all property managers are good at their jobs. Some have difficulty managing building staff, they communicate poorly with residents, or they don't know their jobs as well as they should. 

When we hired All Area, they were a breath of fresh air in the search for professional property management. Not only did they help with the four points above, but they also properly carried out the decisions we made as a board. They were kind and communicated our decisions in a professional manner to our building. 

If you are a part of a board, exasperated and overwhelmed by the search for the proper management. Don’t feel you have no other choice but to stick with bad management and overwork yourselves. There is another choice and that is All Area Realty Services. 

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service professional property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area.  

Topics: Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board

Handling Lawsuits As A Co-Op or Condo Board

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Oct 2, 2018 4:14:43 PM

Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, and can quickly turn into a financial burden. And unfortunately in some cases it is the only option for resolution.

The Basics

The most common lawsuits include noise complaints between neighbors, construction defects in units, and attempts to collect delinquent payments from residents. If you are the defendant the lawsuit will begin with you being served with a complaint. You will have 20 days to answer the complaint with either an answer or to file a motion to dismiss. You can seek to dismiss the complaint on two grounds: you can say that suit is not strong enough for “a cause of action” or you can try to dismiss by virtue of an “affirmative matter.” 

Also, keep in mind most cases are settled before the going to trial, or the completion of a trial. 

iStock-660743394Don’t Go Through a Lawsuit Alone 

If you attempt to resolve the dispute yourself it could ultimately create more legal challenges. You could find yourself in the trap of selective enforcement. Inconsistent rule enforcement could not only get you in trouble, but empty threats can result in issues as well. In the first phase of a lawsuit, the involvement of your attorney is crucial in steering you to a successful path to resolution.

Although all lawsuits are public record if you have an attorney all of your discussions will be protected by the attorney/client privilege. If you discuss the lawsuit or seek advice to anyone else you will not have this confidentially protection and could have personal information about the lawsuit leaked. 

It is important to note that if you’re covered by general liability insurance or Directors & Officers coverage you could have your defense provided by your carrier.  

How Much Will a Lawsuit Cost 

Predicting the cost of a lawsuit is difficult. The more actions necessary to take place during a lawsuit and the longer it is all run up the price. If you come into the situation with reasonable expectations, a willingness to compromise and communicate you can really save yourself a lot of time and money. 

Alternatives 

You can try to meet with the other party and resolve the issue amongst yourselves. However, as mentioned above this is a gamble and could end up costing you even more money in the end. At the very least an attorney should be present as a mediator. 

The Consequences of Constant Litigation iStock-478524467

A long history of litigation may hurt your standing with prospective buyers and lenders. Prospective buyers may question the building’s financial stability, if the board is ruling effectively, or if the residents have hostile relations with the board. Also, lenders may take the constant litigation into consideration when underwriting their loans. 

Lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming experiences. However, if you keep all the points above in mind it can help to cheapen and shorten the time span of your lawsuit. 

If you serve on a co-op board and need professional property management services, contact All Area Realty Services and find out why our over 30 years experience and loyal clients makes us experts.

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Co-Op Building, Co-op Insurance, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board Lawsuit

Property Management and Board Relations

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Jul 17, 2018 6:13:03 PM

A harmonious and collaborative relationship between you a property management company and building's co-op board is a necessity. This harmony can only take place with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.

That being said, it can be easy for the duties to get blurred and overlap, but you and the board each have their own distinct set of duties. Building boards are responsible for making decisions regarding capital expenditures, which prospective. As management you are responsible for providing unbiased information to the board and carrying out the boards goals and objectives.

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Overlap usually arises when the board is too closely involved in overlooking management duties, or giving the property manager responsibilities that aren’t in the contract, therefore unanticipated. These extra responsibilities could take away a manager's ability to fulfill the actual contracted expectations. The only instance overstep is acceptable is normally under emergency circumstances. 

To sum it up, for a co-op board and property manager to have the most efficient and happy relationship there has to be clear communication about your roles and theirs. Along with that communication there has to be effort to stick to those clear distinct guidelines of duty by making sure the board and residents understand roles and responsibilities of each party. 

All Area Realty Services is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service professional property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board, Property Management

Is Being a Co-op Board or Condo Board Member Difficult?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on May 30, 2018 3:25:53 PM

What does a board member do?

A co-op or condo board member's main role is to facilitate the day to day management of a building, by self management or by hiring a professional property management company. They often answer emails and calls from residents, interview and review applications of potential buyers and keep the building working efficiently according to both state/city law and building regulations - as well as keep residents informed. 

iStock-640177478Attending board member meetings is also important. Some boards stick to an agenda during their meetings while others take a more casual approach. When surveyed, property management professionals stated the biggest complaint from board members is not having a set agenda and the meeting lasting for hours.  A well led board will have a president that sets the tone, takes on a leadership role, delegates, and determines how meetings are run.  A good board president will know that having an agenda will ensure meeting stay short, run smoothly, and removes excess emotion and conflict that may arise. 

If you’re thinking about becoming a board member and you have skills in running meetings or organizing an agenda, bring this up in your application. This may give you an advantage if you can demonstrate these skills. 

What determines if you're a good candidate to serve on the board?

iStock-855667636There is not a set of guidelines to become a board member. You must first express interest and fill out an application. The board will interview you and you must pass the interview process before you can become an official board member. Most boards are looking for a team member who is well informed, committed, and has the time needed to serve the building.

Having a neutral personality and being able to remain calm and collected will help you to get a spot on the board. Another area that might help is your current job or previous job skills. Board members benefit from free legal and tax help. If you have an accounting background, you may be a great asset to help with the buildings financial books. Same goes with any construction, engineering, or legal experience. No experience? No problem. Apply anyways, its always good to have a diverse board.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service professional property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Co-Op Building, Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board

What Happens When a Co-Op Board Member Causes Conflict within the Board?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Mar 15, 2018 3:02:19 PM

Growing up, we're taught the golden rule of "treat others how you want to be treated". As we grow older and encounter various personality types, this saying can become harder to stick to.

So what happens when you sit on a building's co-op board and egos start flying, and personalities are tested in not so positive ways?

How to Not Get Stuck in Negative Energy

Co-op board members typically get elected for their experience and ability to handle the position bestowed upon them. Not for their ability to receive constructive criticism, use effective communication, or abilities to think before they speak.

iStock-127544823.jpgSo, what happens when you’ve been elected as a board member and you go to your first co-op board meeting only to learn that the various egos and personalities are causing internal strife and disagreements?

Navigating through these issues is a true testament to your current position. It is important as a board member that you don't get sucked into the negative conversations and actions taken by others.

Instead it’s a best to evaluate the situation and quickly get back to the current topic at hand. Getting everyone back on task will help move past personal disagreements and put the focus back on doing what is best for all residents.

Ultimately, the co-op board president should then pull those involved aside after the meeting and discuss proper meeting etiquette for all future meetings. It may even be a good idea to create a working document which should outline etiquette, rules, respect, and overall set the tone of how the co-op board should run meetings and interact with each other.  If your board works with a reliable property management company, you may be able to ask them for a template for such a document, as most professional property management companies work very closely with several co-op boards. 

The Cooperator published an article which gives advice on how to deal with rude and unruly board members.  Although long and over six years old, still timely and well worth the read if you find yourself serving on a co-op board that feels more like a war zone. 

Can You Get Demoted for Speaking Your Truth?

While serving as a co-op board member you’ll be asked to participate in approving or not approving current issues or projects. If you disagree with the general consensus, you should still feel comfortable and confident enough to speak your truth and justify why you feel a certain way regarding a specific vote or action. All co-op board members must feel confident and free to stick to the values and opinions they have. It is imperative, for the well being of the building and it's residents that all board members operate in an honest and transparent manner that encourages discussion and debate. 

Should a board member use profanity, unprofessionalism, personal attacks, racist or derogatory remarks, that will cause other board members to not only feel uncomfortable, but be detrimental to making the best decisions for the building, its probably wise for the board president to ask for the disruptive board member's resignation.  

If you’ve had a sticky situation in one of your board member meetings and you’d like outside advice on what is the proper action to take, contact All Area Realty.

All Area is New York City’s leading real estate management company specializing in full-service property management for cooperative and condominium boards in the Manhattan area. 

Topics: Co-Op Board, Property Management, Condo Board Association

Does Your Condo Board Association Members Have Rights to Getting a Copy of Your Keys?

Posted by All Area Realty Services Team on Mar 5, 2018 3:39:56 PM

Congratulations you’ve just purchased a new condo and you now have a condo management board or condominium association,  looking after the common areas and fee payment records! What a nice relief that you get to come home and your enjoy beautiful home without needing to mow, trim trees, or clean common areas, like playgrounds, laundry rooms, or restrooms.

Did you know in many condominium association contracts there are clauses that state the rights of each association's members? If not, we encourage you to get your paperwork out and read over it  because it’s a possibility that you’re required to give a copy of your keys to an association member. 

Real Estate Agent Requirements on Sales

While you may have just uncovered a hidden property secret, it’s not your real estate agent's fault for not going over every clause with you. When your agent gave you the paperwork to review, it was your responsibility to read every clause and verify you were signing into something 100% agreed upon.

Usually, a real estate agent who has sold multiple units in your building will be upfront and welcoming with all the association regulations because they are well versed in them, and of course because they would not want to lose clients. 

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New York City Law on Key Disbursement for Property Associations and Management Companies

New York has a strict law that requires a copy of your keys be given to the property management company in case of an emergency. The law is documented in the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, Section 51-c, as verified in Habitat. It’s stated that any property management company who wants a copy of your keys must send you the request in writing. Failure to abide, could result in court proceedings and fines.

To better determine your individual situation, it is recommended that you thoroughly review your signed property documentation so you have no hiccups or surprises with your new place.

Topics: Condo Board Association, Co-Op Board