A condominium is similar to a traditional home in that you can sell and buy it, but it's different because common areas are co-owned by the people who live at the property. Condominiums can be converted into apartments or vice-versa. Each one has the potential to be sold with an individual deed and is subject to a separate mortgage. The entire property does not need to be purchased as a whole.
When you live in a condominium, there are bound to be issues that come up from time to time. There is typically a manager and board that works with members to work out issues that arise, although you can work out a problem on your own with the owner of another condominium if you two are amicable. Here are a few ways that you can work through a problem when it comes up.
Recently we discussed the potential problems of hiring a condo or co-op board director as a vendor. It's important, however, for the board to maintain control of who can hire vendors as well as contractors and not to give your management company authority to hire someone without the board's approval. It's also essential for someone on the board to monitor the invoices as well as the actual work on a regular basis.
It's not unusual for condominium or co-op board members or directors to have careers that would make them a good candidate to be hired as a vendor by the board. For example, some may want to act as a property manager for foreclosed units or for units belonging to New Yorkers who winter in Florida or spend extended periods away from home on business.
Many condos and co-ops in New York City are adjacent to or even share buildings with businesses such as grocery stores or restaurants. Where there's food, there are often pigeons that leave droppings and build nests to start a family.
New York condominium unit owners and co-op shareholders are now going to have increased access to certain condo and co-op board documents. These include financial statements, legal documents, invoices and receipts and well as contact information of residents.
Here in New York City, many of us live in very close proximity to our neighbors -- and to their pets. Many co-ops in the city allow residents to have pets. This can present an issue for co-op boards if other residents have allergies to animals.
Many residents of New York City co-ops pay building maintenance workers and porters to do odd jobs in their individual apartments -- anything from changing a light bulb to putting together furniture. They know these individuals and often find it easier, less expensive and safer to ask them for help rather than call a handyman service or other professional. They may also feel like they're helping these folks out with a little extra money.
Condominium and co-op boards here in New York City have different rules around their voting processes. For some, all votes are secret. Some even use a double-envelope system. In others, there are no systems in place to keep the votes secret. That means that people on the board who collect the ballots aren't prevented from looking at them. They can conceivably retaliate against board members for their votes and even turn other residents against them.
What recourse does a New York co-op board have if a registered sex offender moves into the building with an occupant who has already been approved and is living there? That was a question posed recently in a real estate column in The New York Times.