When you own a New York City apartment, some things inevitably need fixing. It can be difficult to know what you are responsible for, and what your building is on the hook for. For example, you may need help figuring out whose job it is to replace the windows. Or what the board’s role is if there’s water damage from a neighboring apartment.
Answers to these questions depend on whether you own in a co-op or a condo building. A co-op building is structured as a corporation with a board of directors, so instead of receiving a deed, as you would in a condo, you become a shareholder. As a co-op owner you sign a proprietary lease, an agreement that has similarities to a lease in a rental building.
In addition, for New York City renters, there’s a set of rules called the warranty of habitability that details the services a landlord must provide in order to keep the building and apartment safe and livable at all times. These rules also protect co-op owners. However, there’s no warranty of habitability between the board and the unit owner in a condo.
Here are some of the most contentious maintenance issues and guidance on who typically is responsible for them.
The structure of the window and the maintenance of the outside is typically the responsibility of the board but the shareholder will have responsibility for maintaining the painting and decorating on the inside.
If there’s a plumbing issue that’s unrelated to a fixture within the apartment, in most cases the responsibility for the repair will fall on the co-op board. You’ll want to take a look at your proprietary lease to make sure. “If it is inside the building walls it’s a co-op’s responsibility under the lease. If it’s outside of the walls—if it’s the faucet, if it’s the toilet fixture, if it’s the sink—nine times out of 10 it’s a shareholder responsibility.
Paint and Wallpaper
Your apartment walls should not be exposed sheetrock. Very often the proprietary lease will, however, say shareholders are responsible for painting.
Electric Wires, Steam Risers, and Your Front Door
Electrical wires in your walls. You might not be able to physically touch the wiring but it is typically a shareholder’s responsibility. This means, if you change any of the electrical systems in your apartment, you take responsibility for the quality of the work.
Another exception in prewar co-op buildings is the steam riser. These are pipes that are very often exposed and run from floor to ceiling to release steam from the boiler. The maintenance and repair of these risers is a co-op board’s responsibility.
The front door of your co-op is another exception. “It belongs to the board"
For much more on how these maintenance issues may apply to your property, please click here to read the full article from Brick Underground.
Should you have questions regarding any of the above, please reach out for clarification. We are always here to answer any of your real estate questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you.