CNYC
Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
Current Articles
For Your Building
Emergency Preparedness, Balcony Enclosure Reprieve, Smoking Policy, Fire Safety Decals, Conflict of Interest Report

Published: Spring 2018

BALCONY ENCLOSURE REPRIEVE
Local Law 11, the Department of Buildings' Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), requires the filing of a report every five years on the condition of the facade of all NYC buildings 75 feet and higher. Filing dates are staggered based on the property tax block number of the affected building. Over time, the Department of Buildings has added issues for the inspecting engineer or architect to address – air conditioner installations and balcony railings have thus come to be included in FISP inspections.

In 2016, DoB issued a notice requiring documentation of the permitting status of balcony and greenhouse enclosures and mandating that any unpermitted enclosures be removed or legalized. Many of these enclosures have been in place for decades – often they were considered a significant perk to the purchaser of a co-op or condo unit; owner could often get higher rents than for similar units where the balcony was not enclosed. It was difficult to trace whether the entity or individual who enclosed balcony space far in the past had been granted a permit for the process. And, even more problematic, was the realization that for many buildings it would be impossible to legalize existing enclosures without exceeding the building's allowable Floor Area Ration (FAR). Requiring owners to dismantle enclosures that had been part of the unit presented its own panoply of problems.

In the light of these unanticipated issues, the Department of Buildings has agreed not to require documentation of permits for existing enclosures, thus eliminating the specter of widespread removal. Careful inspection of balcony enclosures continues to be required of the FISP report, and no future enclosures will be allowed without proper filings and permitting from the Department of Buildings.

YOUR BUILDING SMOKING POLICY
On August 28, 2017 the City Council enacted legislation that requires all multiple dwellings including cooperatives and condominiums to create and distribute a smoking policy for the building. This policy must state in detail where smoking is permitted or prohibited on the premises, including indoor and outdoor areas. Effective August 28, 2018, this policy must be provided annually to tenants– though this can be accomplished by posting the notice prominently– and incorporated into leases and purchase agreements and into the bylaws or rules of cooperatives and condominiums.

The legislation does not require that any particular policy be adopted (it also exempts current rental tenants – though the smoking policy must be incorporated into any future leases– and permanently exempts existing rent regulated tenants). Some cooperatives have, however, used this requirement as a catalyst for entering into discussions about making their building smoke free.

Boards of cooperatives currently have authority to require that residents control second hand smoke through the provision in most proprietary leases that states that the shareholder shall not permit noise or odors to escape from their apartment.

Required record keeping includes the policy itself plus proof of annual notification of the policy to residents. Material changes to the Smoking Policy must be disclosed as they are enacted and properly reflected in documents.

APARTMENT IDENTIFICATION SIGNS SHOULD ALREADY BE IN PLACE
Two new Fire Safety rules adopted in June of 2016 require owners of buildings and hotels where corridors have 8 or more apartments or guest rooms to place glow-in-the-dark room number and letter markings near the ground at entrance doors for all units, along with any necessary directional markings and exit signs to help emergency personnel locate the correct unit when responding to fires, medical emergencies and other emergencies at the building. Additional markings to help identify duplex apartments and those that are joined horizontally will help save time in emergencies and if it becomes necessary to evacuate apartments.

Markers are required on the corridor side of all apartment doors on or next to the door itself at a height between 48" and 60" from the floor. The letters and numbers must contrast with the background so as to be plainly discernible. A second apartment marker is affixed to the door jamb on hinged side of the door, with the top of the marker 12" above the floor. This enables fighters, first responders and building residents identify apartment numbers in smoke conditions that obscure the regular (eye-level) apartment door number signs.

Buildings with more than 8 dwelling units on a corridor must also post a marker or sign in the elevator lobby or other public entry on each floor identifying the units on the floor. Additional careful details enhance building safety and improve emergency response.

The texts of the final rules implementing 3RCNY Section 505-01 "Apartment and Guest Room Identification and Directional Markings and Signs" and 3RCNY Section 505-02 "apartment, Guest Room and Stairwell Fire Emergency Markings" can be found on by searching Emergency Markings at www.nyc.gov/NYCRULES. These rules are detailed, with clear illustrations in the appendix.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST REPORTS DUE ANNUALLY
In August of 2017, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that had as its goal to require the boards of all housing cooperatives and condominiums in the state to report at least annually to shareholders or unit owners on any contracts entered into or approved by the board where a conflict of interest was present. The first report must be presented during the year 2018. It must be signed by each director and must provide details on 'any contracts made, entered into or otherwise voted on by the board, that were subject to section 715 of the Not-for- Profit Corporation Law' (which describes what is meant by interested parties and conflicts of interest). The report must reference all meetings where the contract was discussed, which board members were present at each meeting and how each board member voted. If there is a year when no such contracts are discussed, the report must still be issued, stating that there were no contracts discussed where a conflict of interest was present.

This legislation has been called a solution in search of a problem. It cites the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law, although the cooperatives nor condominiums to which it applies are not formed as not-forprofit corporations. Nor does it acknowledge the many aspects of condominium and cooperative governance where working with interested parties with full disclosure of the relationship has significant benefits for the community.

To help members understand the requirements of this law and how best to meet those requirements in their own cooperative or condominium, CNYC has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 (see page 13) where attorney Arthur Weinstein, Esq., a founder and Vice president of CNYC will have advice and templates for participants and answers to the questions that they bring.

EMERGENCY PLANNING
City Government encourages building owners and managers to consider and address emergency preparedness issues with building residents and with staff. This includes the following key elements:

  • The New York City Fire Code requires apartment buildings to prepare and distribute a fire and non-fire emergency preparedness guide and post certain notices. The guides can be found at https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ fdny/downloads/pdf/business/ plan-review-fire-safety-guide-firesafety- notice.pdf. It provide detailed information to residents and reference websites where additional safety information can be found.
  • Residents with special needs should advise the board, the Super or management about any special consideration they may need in an emergency situation. This information should be incorporated into all emergency plans, and, as necessary, should be communicated to firefighters or other emergency personnel. For help consult the website of the Mayors Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) at www.nyc.gov/mopd
  • Clear communications will enhance the safety of all building residents and staff during an emergency. All communications resources should be maintained in good order (this includes current telephone and e-mail lists of residents). Management numbers to call in an emergency should be well publicized. Notices should warn of weather emergencies. A sample notice can be found on the HPD website at www.nyc.gov/hpd.
  • The NYC Department of Emergency Management and NYPD have emergency notification systems. Monitor these to keep the building informed and able to take whatever actions may become necessary to safeguard the building and its residents.

REPORT BEDBUG HISTORY
Local Law 60 of 2017 requires building owners to begin compiling information on any bedbug infestations in the building in the course of the year. Beginning in December of 2018, owners (including cooperatives and condominiums) must file a detailed annual bedbug history with the Department of Housing Preservation and & Development. This history must also be posted prominently in the building or distribute it to all tenants. The legislation suggested that the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene would promulgate or approve a format for this report, but, at this writing, CNYC was unable to find such a form on the DoH website (www.nyc.gov/health) although there is a wealth of information on the site concerning bedbugs. When HPD begins receiving the bedbug histories, the legislation instructs that it post them on its website (www.nyc.gov/hps).

RECORD RETENTION
Here is a tickler list of prudent record retention. (most of these can be kept in electronic form):

Keep Permanently

  • Annual Reports
  • Appraisals by outside appraisers
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Audit Reports
  • Balance Sheets
  • Blueprints & Plans
  • By-Laws
  • Stock Certificate Records
  • Cash Books
  • Cash Disbursements and Receipt Record
  • Certificate of Condominium
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Check Register
  • Cancelled checks for:
    • taxes
    • special contracts
    • significant purchases
  • Contracts, mortgages, leases
  • Correspondence on legal matters
  • Deeds, mortgages, bills of sale
  • Election Records
  • Financial statements (year end)
  • General Ledgers
  • Insurance Records
    • current accident reports
    • claims, policies
  • Journal Entries
  • Minutes books
  • Proprietary Lease
  • Retirement & pension records
  • Tax Returns (and worksheets)
  • Training manuals
  • Trial Balance
  • Union Agreements
  • Vouchers/payments to employees, vendors
  • W-2 Forms

Keep for 7 Years

  • Accident reports/claims (settled cases)
  • Accounting ledgers
  • Bank Statements and Reconciliations
  • Cancelled checks (see exceptions at left)
  • Charge Slips
  • Expense Reports
  • Expired contracts, mortgages, leases
  • Garnishments
  • Inventories of materials, supplies
  • Invoices
  • Notes receivable ledgers and schedules
  • Payroll records
  • Personnel files (terminated)
  • Purchase Orders
  • Stock certificates (cancelled)
  • Time Books/cards
  • Voucher registers and schedules
  • Withholding tax schedules

Keep for 3 Years

  • Bank Deposit Slips
  • Budgets
  • Statements
  • Employment applications
  • Insurance policies (expired)
  • Internal audit reports
  • Petty cash vouchers

Keep for 2 Years

  • Bank reconciliations
  • General correspondence
  • Duplicate deposit slips

Keep for 1 Year

  • Requisitons
 
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