Should You Be Allowed to Hire Your Building Employees To Help With Private Jobs In Your Unit?
Have you ever needed something handled in or near your unit/building that might not fall within the purview of what your Super typically does around the building? Like installing your window AC unit for you? Perhaps your car battery died and you need someone to help you jump it? Who can you turn to for help that won't charge a fortune? Your Super, or another building employee - someone who you see around on a daily basis, who could use some extra cash, because couldn't we all use some extra cash? He or She is handy, convenient and there, right?
Is it really that easy? A recent New York Times article (you can find it here) laid out the arguments against Coops allowing their shareholders to seek building employees to provide personal handyman services when they are off the clock, and I have to agree. The employees are off the clock, so if they hurt themselves, or do something that ruins building property, it opens the Coop and its Shareholders to lawsuits, as well as exposing the employees themselves to suits for things they do while not on the clock in the building. And what if the Super or building employee is actually on the clock when they perform these Shareholder/Tenant favors? Then they are double dipping - getting paid for work they are doing for the building as well as making extra cash from the person who needs the favor, that doesn't fall under the umbrella of "building work".
Although there is something so convenient about having someone on hand to help with the random situations that arise on a day to day basis, the exposure that the building and the employee open themselves up to seems too great as compared with the task or two the employee is trying to help the shareholder/tenant/home-owner with. The convenience article just doesn't seem strong as the argument laying out all the potential legal ramifications that arise from a building employee trying to make a few bucks. The person who needs the work done may just need to hire someone or call on their handiest friend to lend a helping hand. What do you think?
What Changes Should You Make In Preparation For Your Sale?
If you are thinking of putting your place on the market, you want to make sure that you will get as much as you can for the property without putting a fortune into the property to get it in tip-top shape first! This article from the New York Times really lays out what you should be focusing your time, attention and money on as you prep your property to hit the market! Check it out here.
What Pet Rules Must You Follow and Which Pet Rules Must Management Enforce?
Seems that, regardless of what rules management sets up for a building's residents, i.e. you must carry your dog through the lobby, you must use the service elevator if you are traveling with animals, etc., at the end of the day, it really is up to management as to who these rules are enforced against and who gets a free pass. Seems the best bet if you are not going to follow the building rules precisely is to make friends with the building staff and stay in their good graces! For the full article, click here.
Rent Stabilization – Know your Rights!
I came upon this Article in the NY Times - the way in which so many people are duped when it comes to housing struck me as disgusting. I am hoping that someone out there learns something from my re-posting this Article, and I can help to spare someone from having to go through a similar situation. When it comes to Rent Stabilization, there can be a lot to learn. Trying to educate ourselves, however, is the first step in stopping people from spreading bad information.
When it comes to Rent Stabilization, “the landlord is required to add a spouse’s name to a rent-stabilized lease if the tenant requests it. Second, even if her name is not on the lease, she is entitled to take it over once her husband moves into a nursing home under the rules of succession. The law permits immediate family members, like spouses, to take over a lease when a tenant dies or moves out, as long as the family member has lived with the tenant for two years or longer. Disabled family members or those who are 62 or older need to have lived in the apartment for only a year.”
Should you be in a similar situation, and find that your landlord does not acquiesce and add your name to the lease, you should file a complaint with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which oversees rent-regulated apartments.
To Take or Not to Take, That is the Question
Great article in the New York Times about what to take or leave behind when Selling your home - Check it out here - It also offers some great advice for buyers as to how to prepare and handle what may unfold both during and after the Closing.
The best rule of thumb for both buyers and sellers is that, if it is not in the contract, you should not expect to leave it behind (Sellers) or get it (Buyers) without a bit of a hassle first. Sometimes Sellers forget to take items with them, other times they simply do not want something and its easier to listen to the buyers complain or throw some money their way to get the item dismantled/moved than to deal with it themselves. Buyers can only do so much by way of voicing to the Seller or the brokers what they are/are not interested in, and hope that the Seller respects them enough to do what has been agreed upon (assuming, of course, that the agreement ended up in the Contract, where it belonged)!
Air BNB - Should Landlords Allow It or Fight It?
Is Air BNB good for business? There are clear arguments against it - for example, tenants cannot take good care of their apartments if those living in it changes constantly. There is so much more wear and tear on the units. Also, landlords and tenants cannot protect themselves legally from injuries sustained on the premises because Air BNB sublettors are not covered by any lease. This opens up not only the tenants but the landlords to massive litigation claims, which is quite scary.
I do see the argument for Air BNB, however. The cost of visiting NYC is astronomical, and there seems to be no end in sight to the price-gauging hotels are guilty of. How else to keep the NYC tourism booming than to allow people to visit and stay in apartments for far less than hotels are charging, allowing tourists to get the real-life NYC feel at a fraction of the cost? This seems to be the main draw, but there is another one - some people want to try out an area before they move there. What better way than to rent a space for a short period of time, which is hard to come by with apartments being governed by 1 and 2 year leases. Air BNB allows for short term tenancies and trial periods, which straight renting does not allow. I think only time will tell how this will all play out and what the true pros and cons are. However, there are a ton of companies that are shooting up all over the country that are siding with landlords, and are aimed at catching the illegal Air BNB hosts and protecting the owners and properties. Check out a great article on these new start-ups and some more food for thought on Air BNB here.
Emotional Support Pets Allowed in No-Pet Buildings
What to do when a Co-op allows for an emotional support dog (or 10) in a pet-free building? What are your rights? Do you have any?
According to this Article on NYTimes.com,"Why are Emotional-Support Pets Allowed in My Pet-Free Building?", "Federal, State and City laws provide protections for emotional-support pets. So, even if your building has a strict no-pet policy, it must provide reasonable accommodation for a resident with a disability who requests such a pet."
So, if you have allergies, or anxieties about animals, or fears, what can you do to find a building that upholds their no-pet policy? Unfortunately, it does not seem like you can do much about it these days. "There seems to be an explosion in the demand for emotional-support animals."
According to this article, there exist websites like ESA Doctors, which allows you to fill out a 15-minute questionnaire and pay a fee of $159 and a therapist will provide a doctors note without physically examining someone. These notes can be provided to a Co-op board as proof of a need for a therapy animal (not just limited to dogs, mind you - birds make the cut as well) - and a Co-op attorney would be hard pressed to deny such a request out of fear that, if a shareholder retaliates by filing a complaint with the City's Commission on Human Rights, and evidence of discrimination for rejecting the application for the therapy animal exists, the building could be fined up to $250,000.
Bottom line - you can keep your own apartment animal-free, but you may not be able to keep your building that way, so plan accordingly!
BUY-OUTS...Take the Money and Run? Or Buyer Beware?
There has been a lot of talk of buy-outs lately. The weather is finally getting better and buildings are doing huge renovations! What does that mean for rent-controlled tenants in buildings that want to over-haul and get the most bang for their buck? It means discussions of buy-outs! And what is a buy-out? A buy-out is when the owner of a building offers a tenant a lump sum payout in exchange for the tenant's agreement to move out and relinquish any remaining rights they might have to the property under their active lease. It sounds too good to be true right?
Well, sometimes it is just as amazing as it sounds, completely legitimate and on the up and up. If an owner is currently getting $2,500 a month in rent for an apartment that they could do some work to and turn around and rent out again for $4,500 a month, it makes more sense to pay the current tenant some money, renovate the unit, and re-list it. Especially if the tenant is in their 70s, the owner sees more dollar signs than anything else.
But sometimes things do not go as planned. How about when the owner promises a huge payout to a tenant in order to induce them into moving out, and then never pays the tenant the money that was promised? Did the tenant enter into a written contract? Does the owner have a reputation for doing this type of thing? This situation is unfortunately all too real - thisarticle illustrates just that scenario, and it's scary to think it happens so often!
What does this mean? It doesn't mean you should be afraid if your owner offers you a buy-out. It just means you should go into the situation with your eyes wide open. And it means you should retain an attorney to help you navigate and negotiate the deal for you! An attorney familiar with this type of process will help you to ensure you get the most money for your keys, and that you are not taken advantage of or duped. An attorney fee is a small price to pay (literally) in return for a decent buy-out.