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Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums
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For Your Building
J-51, NYSERDA, Biodiesel, CO Alarms, Signs, Checklist

Published: Autumn 2012

J-51 PROGRAM NOT PRESENTLY AVAILABLE
WILL COOPS AND CONDOS EVER BE ELIGIBLE?

The City's J-51 program sunset on December 31,2011 and has not yet been reinstated. The City has proposed that cooperatives and condominiums be excluded from future eligibility, making an exception only for those that subsidized by affordable housing programs and those few open market cooperatives and condominiums whose assessed value averages $30,000 or less per unit.

SOME HISTORY
The J-51 program began in the 1950 to help curb deterioration of the City's housing stock and to encourage owners to maintain and upgrade their properties. It provides property tax exemptions and abatements to defray part of the cost of qualifying improvements.

In the 1980s, J-51 eligibility was expanded to enable buildings newly converted to condominiums and cooperatives to obtain abatements for capital improvements completed in the first three years after conversion. Thereafter, condominiums and cooperatives had to meet strict financial tests to continue to qualify. Average actual assessed value per unit could not exceed $40,000, ensuring that luxury buildings would be ineligible for J-51 benefits after the three years following conversion.

GOOD FOR BUILDINGS AND FOR THE CITY
However, existing buildings on the Lower East Side, Washington Heights and Inwood as well as those throughout the Bronx, Queens Staten Island and much of Brooklyn have continued to be able to take advantage of J-51 as an incentive to maintain their buildings. This modest support enables them to keep carrying costs affordable to their residents while still being able to schedule major maintenance and improvements to the building at regular intervals. The benefits to the City are great in terms of better maintained housing, ongoing tax payments, stabilization of neighborhoods and resident satisfaction.

Buildings that are landmarked or part of a landmarked district did qualify for enhanced J-51 opportunities in recognition of the additional costs of compliance with landmark standards.

RENEWAL DEFERRED TO SPECIAL SESSION
J-51 was routinely renewed again and again over the years, but was allowed to expire on December 31, 2011. There was an expectation that it would be reinstated and extended during the recent session of the State legislature, but the J-51 provisions were part of the complex bill that included the City's abatement proposals (see page 3), which remained unconsidered at the end of the legislative session. J-51 will have to wait for the special session promised in November.

WHERE DO MATTERS STAND NOW?
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development continues to work on J-51 applications received prior to December 31, 2011; it has not accepted any new applications since that date.

With the City's proposals likely to be implemented, all but a very few cooperatives and condominiums, will be excluded from further J-51 eligibility. Reducing the qualifying assessment cap from an already painfully low $40,000 per unit to $30,000 per unit wrenches from eligibility many low, moderate and middle income cooperatives throughout the city. Many of these were in the middle of projects that they fully expected to have qualify for J-51. Shareholders and unit owners in these buildings will soon face jumps in their carrying charges to meet the costs that J-51 had been planned to cover.

The proposed legislation does not address the issue of landmarked buildings and landmarked districts. It is likely that this source of benefits will no longer be available.

NYSERDA ENERGY INCENTIVES
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a public benefit corporation that offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975. Its funding comes primarily from the System Benefits Charge, a portion of every utility bill that is allocated towards energy-efficiency programs, research and development initiatives, low-income energy programs, and environmental disclosure activities. NYSERDA devoted part of this funding to the creation of New York Energy $martSM, which helps to maintain momentum for the State's efforts to develop competitive markets for energy efficiency; demand management; outreach and education services; research, development, and to provide direct economic and environmental benefits to New Yorkers.

In July, NYSERDA announced its new Multifamily Energy Performance Portfolio (MEPP) brings together all its programs for multifamily buildings. Participants in this program can access funding for whole-building energy assessments and low-cost financing for energy upgrades through Green Jobs – Green NY, a statewide effort to strengthen communities through energy efficiency. Properties that make energy efficiency upgrades can generally realize significant cost savings and increase comfort for residents at the same time.

FREE SEMINARS
To familiarize property owners and managers and energy experts with the MEPP program, NYSERDA has scheduled a series of free seminars around the state. The ones in New York City on Tuesday, September 18th will focus specifically on opportunities available to cooperatives and condominiums. Attendees will learn how to: • Select the most appropriate path for implementing energy efficiency, • Qualify for cash-back incentives and low interest loans • Become eligible for bonus incentives of up to $300 per apartment • Decrease building energy use through submetering of electricity Anyone is welcome at these seminars, but preregistration is required. You can choose between a morning class from 9:30 to noon or one from 4 to 7. Register at http://nyserdapowerevents. org/participants.

BIODIESEL FUEL
Bioheating fuel blends animal or vegetable oils with petroleum, using renewable materials to reduce dependence on fossil fuel. Use of bioheating fuel reduces the emissions of air pollutants and reduces cleaning and maintenance costs. Accordingly, the City's Local Law 43 of 2010 requires a 2% component of biodiesel in all heating oil burned in the City effective October 1, 2012, except for use in an emergency generator. The legislation allows for certain exceptions, including excessively high cost of biodiesel (a real possibility in this summer of excessive drought decimating corn and soy crops).

BIODIESEL TAX CREDIT
The State of New York offers a tax credit for the use of biodiesel heating fuel in the amount of one cent per percentage of biodiesel in each gallon purchased up to 20%. This may not sound like much, but the gallons will rapidly add up as the heating season progresses. The current requirement is for 2% biodiesel, but many oil companies will prepare a mix for you that contains more biomatter. Testing different percentages on your heating system will help you find the mix that is right for you. The incentive program is in place through 2016.

CITY COUNCIL CONSIDERS ADDITIONAL ACCESSIBILITY SIGNAGE
Legislation is being considered by the City Council that would require signs identifying wheelchair accessible entrances in buildings where not all entrances are accessible. The signs must include a contact telephone number or instructions to gain access if an otherwise accessible building entrance is locked. In addition, this law would require that signs be placed at inaccessible building entrances, public rest rooms and elevators not serving an accessible route, indicating the way to the nearest like accessible element where such accessible element is provided, so that a person with disabilities will not be required to retrace the approach route from the inaccessible element. Existing signs that were posted in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 shall be deemed to comply.

APARTMENT MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST
Every year the Vendome Group publishes the Apartment Management Checklist, an alphabetical listing of virtually every law, rules and regulation that affect apartment buildings in New York City. The text of the law is provided, along with a clear explanation of what it requires. There are samples of forms, lists of service providers, calendars of filing requirements and of days when garbage and recycling are not collected. In recent years, a disk of the electronic version is included in this book.

Self managed buildings should purchase this important book annually to be on top of any and all new laws and requirements. Property managers will want it as a handy reference tool.

Every year at CNYC's annual Conference, the Vendome group provides a coupon giving CNYC members a generous discount on the price of this book. Look for the coupon at the last page of the Conference Program, which every registrant at the 32nd Annual Conference will receive on November 11th.

MOLD & MOSQUITOES
The mild winter, wet spring and humid summer have been ideal conditions for breeding unwanted creatures including mold and mosquitoes. Both pests are generally harmless, more nuisance than threat, but there are exceptions. Every effort should be made to avoid contact and to eliminate infestations. Encourage shareholders and unit owners to report problems and facilitate their access to appropriate help.

Mold spores are airborne. When they find a resting place where food (sheetrock qualifies as food!) and moisture are present they can quickly grow and form a colony. The vast majority of these are simply unsightly, but some species can be dangerous, and others can produce allergic reactions in some people. A sample of the mold can be tested to ascertain whether it poses any health threat.

If a small area is affected, try to clean away the mold and keep the area dry. If reinfestation occurs, it is wise to seek professional help in ensuring removal.

West Nile Virus has begun to pose a significant threat in parts of the country this year. Fortunately, in New York, mosquitoes are generally just pests. To minimize the presence of these annoying creatures, encourage the use of screens for all windows. Do not allow standing water of any sort in tree wells, on sidewalks, in courtyards, back yards or on roofs and terraces.

HE DETERGENT HELPS THE ENVIRONMENT AND HELPS YOUR LAUNDRY EQUIPMENT
Encourage shareholders and unit owners to use only laundry detergent labeled HE for High Efficiency, both in washing machines in the laundry room and in their own apartments. New York has very soft water and therefore only a small amount of detergent is needed to get clothes clean. HE detergents make fewer suds to clog pipes.

At CNYC's 32nd annual Housing Conference on Sunday, November 11, 2012, property manager Ellen Kornfeld and attorney Adam Leitman Bailey will present a midday class on Laundry Room Considerations. Topics covered will range from contracts to smart cards to vent cleaning. HE detergent will also be mentioned.

CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR REPLACEMENT REQUIRED
Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and colorless and can be lethal. They are released in improper combustion of oil or gas. Local Law 7 of 2004 was promulgated to help protect New Yorkers from carbon monoxide poisoning by requiring installation of carbon monoxide alarm devices. Local Law 75 of 2011 amends that law to require that the carbon monoxide detecting devices be replaced at the end of the manufacturer's suggested useful life, which is 5 to 7 years.

The law also requires that these devices have an audible signal to alert residents when they expire.

Now owners of all New York City multiple dwellings – including cooperatives and condominiums – that burn any fossil fuel (oil or natural gas) must provide and install and replace at the end of its useful life, one or more approved and operational carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in each dwelling unit. Records must be kept and be available for inspection by various City agencies of the dates of installation and full details regarding testing, maintenance and any problems with each alarm, along with the expiration date of the useful life of such alarm (at which time, of course, the next replacement device will have to be installed.)

If your cooperative or condominium complied timely with Local Law 7 of 2004 and has not yet replaced CO alarms, this should be done in the course of the next few months.

Residents are responsible for maintaining their CO alarms, but the owner is responsible for repairing or replacing broken or defective devices reported to them, once it is ascertained that the resident was not responsible for the damage. One adult in each residence must be given written information regarding the maintenance and testing of the CO alarm and providing general information about carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if a CO alarm goes off.

Finally the law provides samples for a notice that must be posted in the building describing the requirements of this program. We reproduce the more general one here (16 point typeface is required, so please enlarge if you wish to use this in your building):

NOTICE

THE LAW REQUIRES THE OWNER OF THE PREMISES TO PROVIDE A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM IN EACH APARTMENT IN THIS BUILDING. THE CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM MUST BE PLACED WITHIN 15 FEET OF THE PRIMARY ENTRANCE TO EACH ROOM LAWFULLY USED FOR SLEEPING, MUST BE OF THE TYPE EQUIPPED WITH AN END OF LIFE AUDIO INDICATOR, AND MUST BE PERIODICALLY REPLACED BY THE PROPERTY OWNER AS NECESSARY. TENANTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR OF THE ALARMS INSTALLED IN THE APARTMENT AND FOR REPLACING ANY OR ALL ALARMS THAT ARE STOLEN, REMOVED, MISSING, OR BECOME INOPERABLE DURING THE OCCUPANCY OF THE APARTMENT. THE LAW PROVIDES THAT THE OCCUPANT OF EACH CLASS A APARTMENT IN A BUILDING IN WHICH A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM IS PROVIDED AND INSTALLED SHALL PAY THE OWNER $25.00 PER ALARM FOR THE COST OF SUCH WORK FOR THE INITIAL AND EACH PERIODIC REPLACEMENT. THE OCCUPANT HAS ONE YEAR FROM THE DATE OF INSTALLATION TO MAKE SUCH PAYMENT TO THE OWNER.


TWO WAYS TO REQUEST E-MAIL NOTICES FROM CNYC CNYC
has long maintained its award-winning website at www. CNYC.coop, Notices are posted there, as are listings of CNYC's evening seminars, other events to which CNYC members are invited and the brochure for the Annual Conference. There are also links to City and State agencies and to organization, reports and projects of interest, extensive archives, membership information and forms and an opportunity for individuals to register to receive periodic e-mail messages and alerts.

As each cooperative and condominium becomes a CNYC member, it is asked to designate one contact person to receive notices and calendars of CNYC events by US mail. This contact person is tasked to relay the information to all board members. Without changing this system, CNYC has added a way for more board members to receive 'official' notices. CNYC will comply with specific requests from member cooperatives and condominiums to send e-mail copies of these notices to one or more Board members. Please do so by sending e-mail to Rothman@ CNYC.coop with the names and e-mail addresses of all board members to whom notices should be sent. This member service is entirely separate and distinct from the online registration for eblasts of events and general announcements.

 
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