NYC Co-op Question

lisamariaJune 21, 2007

I just found out from my super that repairs have to be made to the gas line in my building. Work is to start next week and will involve breaking down walls in my newly renovated kitchen. What are my rights? Do I have to allow access? My gas line hasn't had any problems and has remained in service. The person who lives two floors above me discovered a leak and his gas was shut off in early May. Now the gas pipe on the entire line must be replaced. I haven't seen any paperwork or permits about this matter. Moreover, I don't trust my super to return my kitchen to its original state when the work is done. I'm going to take lots of pictures before the work starts, of course. And I still have all my receipts. Is there anything I can do to protect myself? Any advice is much appreciated.


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If you have gas line problems in your bldg. and they want to work on it, let them, otherwise risk possibly very serious trouble, including having the bldg. blow up or something. Isn't there a co-op owners' organization that you can ask about whether they need to reimburse you for decorating? Theoretically, I have a feeling they don't, because you've decorated the landlord's place (which is why most of them prefer you to not even paint the walls half the time, or only do them beige, etc., and will only pay for the paint itself and not the labor... and any more expensive things you do would either be seen as upgrades (in their favor) to their places, or just the opposite depending on your taste.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 4:52AM
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Yes, the gas line is serious business, I agree. I have to let them in to do the work. However, I own my apartment; I am not renting.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 6:49AM
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First of all, you cannot refuse emergency repairs to the building. Case closed.

As far as being reimbursed for damage to your possessions, check your renters insurance. Its smart that you took pics before they started. Good move.

If you do not have insurance. Good luck. I hope they are nice people and help you pay for damages. Otherwise you will have to battle it out in court. Document everything. If you have a video cam, even film them busting up your stuff. It makes for good courtroom drama, and helps with your case.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 9:26AM
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this is a co-op, so there is not a traditional "landlord"--Lisamaria is not a renter. She owns her apartment. (well, she owns shares in a corporation, and ownership fo those shares entitles her to her apartment, but the net effect is much the same).

So Lisamaria hasn't improved the "landlord's" property; she has improved her own. Even if she were subletting from the apartment's owner, the CORPORATION would still need to repair it exactly the way it was before they broke through the wall.

The owner's organization is the board of directors; the board should tell Lisamaria how they will deal w/ damage and reimbursement. Technically and traditionally, the corporation (of which Lisamaria is a shareholder) should foot the bill to repair any damage they cause.

In my own co-op, which is a small 10-unit self-managed co-op, I can see the perhaps we might say, "everyone fix their own apartment," since my expensive, fancy tile backsplash (which I chose) will cost a lot more than the plain painted plaster that my neighbor has--and why should the rest of us foot a higher bill bcs I have a fancier backsplash?

But that would be something my board would decide, and I'd get a vote on it. In a larger building, this would be very unusual. The corporation should foot the bill.

In a co-op, you cannot even reufse non-emergency repairs. If a tenant-owner refuses to cooperate with the board, the board can seize the apartment, sell it out from under him, hand him the proceeds and wash their hands of him. This is the extreme end of how a co-op board can enforce their decisions; on the less extreme end of the spectrum, there are fines, etc.

So Lisamaria shouldn't waste time arguing over WHETHER this should happen. She needs to focus her attention how to get it fixed properly afterward. She's worried about the quality of the work the bldg's super does, so she needs to take a proposal to the board about how to get it done nicely. Perhaps she can bring estimates from her original tile guys, and ask the board to use them.

And she needs more detailed info about exactly where they're going to break into the wall. If she has a slide-in range, maybe they'll be able to confine their work to the area behind the range. In which case a simple "patching the plaster" job will be sufficient, since no one will ever see it.

On another thread she started, I suggested that she investigate whether they can access her gas line through a different room (in my apartment, I think the gas runs up between the dining room and the kitchen).

And, if the super's work is so clearly subpar, surely there are other people whose kitchens will be affected, who don't want him doing the finish work of reinstating their kitchens? And they could add their voice to yours? Time to start knocking on the doors of all the apartments below your.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 9:48AM
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Being it is a NYC co-op and not a renter's issue, the laws are so different. I doubt anyone, unless they have dealt with a NYC co-op will give you the correct advice.

I am from the area but it has been too long to offer the right advice. I do know that although the repairs are probably going to be a must, being that you own your apt, I believe you can still hire your own workers as long as they have the inspection of the original problem.

In NYC the co-op rules are so much more protective of the tenants then in other areas of the country where they all protect the landlord.

Do some checking in your area to get the exact written law regarding owning an apt in a building.

Renters insurance won't have anything to do with this issue since you physically own it. You can also check your homeowner's and see who they suggest the co-op uses for a final inspection.

Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 12:00PM
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