Published: Summer 2002
CNYC's recently-developed model Shareholders Agreement and Proprietary
Lease is being used by many cooperatives as a basis for updating their
own corporate documents. CNYC president Marc J. Luxemburg, Esq. will
present a seminar on Wednesday, September 25th, detailing the history
of the CNYC lease, presenting a new updated version which includes suggestions
received since the last update, and answering questions from participants.
See page 16 for registration information. Every CNYC member and subscriber
is welcome to a copy of the CNYC lease at no cost. Non-affiliates can
request copies at a fee of $175. The lease can also be purchased on
computer disk for $10.
Last year the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) ran a
successful campaign for a .coop internet suffix. Now NCBA has exclusive
jurisdiction over this designation; only genuine cooperatives can receive
a dot coop domain name. CNYC will be pleased to assist any of its members
in obtaining a .coop site. The cost is $160 for two years. For further
information, see the NCBA website at www.cooperative.coop.
Mayor Bloomberg has insisted on curtailing the recycling program during
the current budget crunch. Despite the efforts of the City Council to
preserve the full program, the City's curbside recycling program is
now collecting only paper and metals. Now all plastic, glass and juice
cartons are to be included with regular household garbage. These suspensions
are scheduled to be reversed over the next two years.
Paper products will continue to be recycled. These include newspapers,
magazines, catalogs, telephone books, mixed paper, mail, envelopes,
smooth cardboard (shoe boxes, cereal boxes, tubes), paper bags, soft
covered books, and corrugated cardboard. All cardboard cartons must
be flattened and tied in bundles.
Metal recyclables include cans, aluminum foil wraps and trays, household
metal objects (such as wire hangers, pots and pans, and irons), metal
pipes and other items made substantially of metal.
SUPERINTENDENTS CLUB OF
CNYC members are invited to enroll their staff members at discount rates
in the Superintendents Club of New York, a technical society of multifamily
building maintenance personnel that keeps its members up to date with
the latest technical developments and provides training opportunities.
Founded at the Apartment House Institute of New York City Technical
College, the Supers Club is a NY State non-profit corporation, enjoying
a significant working relationship with the federal Department of Energy,
as well as links to NY State funding for building improvements.
NOTE: The Following information has been update, as of July 2008:
CNYC has supported the Club since its inception, as have many managers
and others. But the principal members are maintenance persons. The Supers'
Club offers CNYC members a $5 discount on each membership:
- Superintendents/Directors of Maintenance: $60.00
- Handypersons, Porters, Doormen and Concierges: $30.00
Please visit their site at www.nycsta.org for the membership application. Their meetings are currently being held at the Seafarers & International House, 123 E. 15th St. in Manhattan.
CHECK CONTRACTOR LICENSE
TO AVOID HEADACHES
CNYC thanks the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) for
the following guest article.
DCA receives more complaints against home improvement contractors than
any other category. Period. End of subject. In some cases the contractor
disappears, leaving the apartment in disarray, walls torn apart, the
wiring and plumbing exposed, and other work undone. The damage to an
owner's apartment, or neighboring units, can be in the hundreds, thousands
or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And then, making matters worse, if the homeowner used an unlicensed
contractor, when that homeowner files a complaint with the Department
of Consumer Affairs, he will discover that the Department's considerable
powers are lessened because that contractor was illegal. Many of these
headaches can be avoided if cooperative boards mandate that only licensed
contractors can be hired for improvements and renovations. If a contractor
is properly licensed, and the complaint legitimate, DCA will go to bat
for the consumer, reminding the contractor of his obligations under
the law and achieving a settlement for the consumer. If mediation is
unsuccessful, or if the contractor is unresponsive, DCA will send the
case to an Administrative Law Judge. DCA might then have the power to
suspend or revoke the contractor's license if he refuses to pay. In
the rare instances when a licensed contractor goes out of business or
skips town leaving behind a string of damages and outstanding consumer
restitution, DCA will reimburse the consumer from our HIC Trust Fund
that pays consumers 100% of the damages up to $15,000.
DCA can and does take complaints against unlicensed contractors, but
its enforcement powers are reduced. Often unlicensed contractors fail
to respond to mediation or show up for hearings. Even if unlicensed
contractors appear for a hearing, they often fail to pay damages. And
the HIC Trust Fund (established with fees from licensed contractors)
can only be used to pay for damages caused by licensed contractors.
The only recourse left to the Department and the consumer is to go to
court unless DCA inspectors are lucky enough to catch the contractor
working at another location, in which case the inspectors can seize
the contractor's vehicle and tools.
Homeowners, building managers, and cooperative and condominium boards
can protect themselves. The simplest defense begins with a phone call
to the DCA Hotline at (212) 487-4444 to check the license status and
complaint history of a prospective contractor. Ultimately, cooperative
boards are left to deal with many of the headaches caused by unlicensed
contractors and are shocked to discover that they are legally liable
if they had referred the vendor to the shareholder. Cooperative boards
should mandate that shareholders only use licensed contractors for all
home improvement work.
Also keep in mind that even high-end craftsmen must be licensed. A craftsman's
reputation is no protection against potential damage or conflict about
responsibility for future problems. This one simple mandate would go
a long way in combating potential headaches.
Other steps that boards should take when approving improvements include:
Establish a well-defined policy toward construction
work done in an individual unit including a need for Board approval
board before any home improvements are made.
Have the shareholder provide a copy of the written
estimate/contract with the vendor. The contract must include the vendor's
full name, address, DCA license number, cancellation clause, a clause
stating that the vendor will secure any necessary permits, and a Workers
Compensation clause. Target completion dates should be included and
the listing of work related items should be clear and as detailed
Check the vendor's license and complaint status by
calling the Consumer Affairs Hotline at (212) 487-4444.
Do not take the word of the vendor when it comes to
his or her license status. Vendors are required to have their license
number on all printed material, including business cards. The statement
licensed and insured on forms is no guarantee that the
vendor is telling the truth. Even if the vendor is based outside the
five boroughs, a license must be secured if work is being done within
the five boroughs.
Make certain that the vendor has secured all necessary
permits. DCA is working with the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks
Commission to stop giving permits to work done with unlicensed contractors.
Advise shareholders that they should report all problems
to the contractor in writing (Certified Mail preferred) with photocopies
given to the board. Advise shareholders to file written complaints
with DCA, if problems are unresolved. Both shareholders and board
members should remember to document any problems and keep detailed
minutes of any discussions held at board meetings about the contractor
Make certain that management looks at the completed
work before the shareholder makes the final payment to the vendor.
Keep in mind that the DCA can only mediate complaints
between consumers and vendors.
DCA has stepped up enforcement against unlicensed contractors. Additionally,
DCA has expanded its outreach to contractors so that they understand
the obligations and benefits of being properly licensed. Consumer Affairs
is making every effort to prevent unlicensed contractors from working
within the five boroughs, and if cooperative boards work with us, we'll
all save time and money and lots of frustration.