Habitat: Legal Talk show

Habitat: Legal Talk

Summary: Being on your co-op or condo board carries a lot of responsibility, liability, and, let's face it, headaches. On Habitat's Legal Talk, you'll meet New York's leading co-op and condo attorneys, who will offer advice and guidance for some of the peskiest problems facing boards today.

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 Whiner (Sponsored by the law firm of Ganfer & Shore) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 5:52

Okay, let’s be honest: some people are born to whine and complain. And sure enough, some of these people end up buying apartments and they morph into complaining neighbors. If you’re a board member on the other side of this complaint litany, you can just go crazy. Don’t do that. Instead, listen to Habitat’s legal experts calmly, and clearly, tell you what to do. Listen as Matthew Leeds, partner at Ganfer & Shore, and Pierre Debbas of Romer Debbas offer advice to weary board directors dealing with squeaky wheels. Featuring the song “Failure” from the album netBloc Vol. 41: Brought to you by the numerals 4 and 1 by Derek Clegg, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

 Let's Slap a Pair of Cuffs on Him (Sponsored by the law firm of Smith, Buss and Jacobs) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7:11

What happens when someone on your board is governing for personal gain? Lots, that’s what. Sometimes money gets spent when it shouldn’t; decisions are made that are wonky; and those who suspect something's up get intimidated. Listen as Ken Jacobs, partner at Smith, Buss and Jacobs, and Stuart Halper of Stuart Halper & Associates offer advice to a former board director on steps to take when something smells. Featuring the song “Bad Scene” from the album Grit by Podington Bear licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

 My Big Fat Access Problem | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7:39

In Brooklyn, there is a 16-unit condominium with an access problem. The cable box for the entire building is in the back of the condo, and to get to it you have to go through one of the two ground-floor apartments. Problem is, when there’s cable trouble, there’s no super and no doorman. And the ground-floor owner isn’t always around to open the door for the repairman so he can get to the cable box. Listen as Seth Sahr, partner at Novitt, Sahr & Snow, and Robert Tierman, partner at Litwin & Tierman, help this board president figure out what to do. Featuring the song “Banging on My Door,” by Waylon Thornton, from the album Paranormal High School licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.

 The Parking Problem (Sponsored by the law firm of Braverman Greenspun) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 8:41

This is a saga of too few parking spaces, a co-op board vote to raise the monthly garage fees, a president who ignored the vote and a board member who resigned over the whole affair. Listen as Stuart Saft, partner at Holland & Knight, and Scott Greenspun, partner at Braverman Greenspun, discuss where is the right, and where is the wrong. Featuring the song “Parking Lots And Strip Malls,” by David Rovics, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

 Let My People Go (Sponsored by the law firm of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 10:03

In the beginning, the corporation that we know as a co-op or condo was created by a sponsor. And the sponsor said, let there be community life. He saw all that he made, he saw that it was very good, and he decided - well, he decided that maybe he would stick around. At least he did at Rhona Magilowitz’s co-op in Forest Hills, Queens. Listen as Eric Goidel, partner at Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel, and Lewis Montana, partner at Levine & Montana, offer some advice on how to work the situation. Music by Les Petits Chanteurs de Montigny, Creative Commons license.

 Who Will Help Us? (Sponsored by the law firm of Racht & Taffae) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 5:24

There is a group of shareholders out in Queens that is fed up with its board. In fact, it is trying to organize a coup. But because the shareholders are basically law-abiding citizens, they’re not taking to the hallways - they’re calling their co-op’s attorney. They want to find out what they should do to get elected at the upcoming annual meeting. Listen as Theresa Racht, partner at Racht & Taffae, and Dale Degenshein, special counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, give them some unexpected advice.

 Pick Your Poison, But Be Reasonable About It (Sponsored by the law firm of Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 8:06

You’ve got a lot of decisions to make as a board director, and any one of them could be your downfall. Out in Queens, a condo board president is trying to figure out his next step. He’s juggling years of leaks, an engineering report calling for half a million dollars’ worth of work, a reserve fund that is almost empty, a small group of thirty unit-owners to foot the bill, and a whole lot of dissension. Listen as Ron Gold, partner at Kagan Lubic Lepper Finkelstein & Gold, and Michael Manzi, partner at Balber Pickard Maldonado & Van Der Tuin, offer advice.

 It’s Our Dime and Time (Sponsored by the law firm of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7.12

Talk about trust gone awry. There’s a large co-op on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that woke up to a huge problem. Seems their full-time super, under the instruction of their property management company, was working at several other properties - but on their dime and time! The board is furious and ready to - well, ready to what? Listen as attorneys Steven Sladkus, a partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and Stewart Wurtzel, partner at Tane Waterman & Wurtzel, offer strategic next steps.

 Getting a Board to Limit the Light-Up (Sponsored by the law firm of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7.25

How do you get your board to tackle the issue of smoking? Persistence, with a dose of shareholder muscle, that’s how. Phil Konigsburg, a long-time board director in Queens, faces this problem. He’s surveyed the residents, brought the matter up with his board colleagues, but so far - nada. Listen as attorneys Steven Wagner, principal at Porzio, Bromberg and Newman, and Steve Lasser, partner at Barton LLP, advise Phil on how to effectively organize shareholders and move the board to action.

 Access Agreements (Sponsored by Law Offices C. Jaye Berger ) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 8.25

Chances are that your neighborhood will change, and new buildings will rise. So what else is knew? Well, if it takes place next door to your co-op or condo, there’s stuff you need to do - and quick. Listen as two attorneys, C. Jaye Berger and Richard Klein, both solo practitioners in their eponymous New York law firms, advise a Brooklyn board president on steps to take when the adjacent parking lot is no longer for parking, but is awaiting construction.

 Shareholder Ennui (Sponsored by the law firm of Rosen Livingston & Cholst) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7:08

The economic life in most co-op buildings ticks along in a pretty ho-hum manner. That is, until the board of directors wants to do something out of the ordinary. Such is the case in Tom Bettridge’s Brooklyn co-op, where the board wants to morph their current administrative fee into a real flip tax. But can they muster enough votes to do so? Listen as Bruce Cholst, a partner in Rosen Livingston and Cholst, and Arthur Weinstein, a solo practitioner in New York, advise Tom on ways to overcome shareholder apathy and how to come to terms with that fundamental democratic issue of whose ox is being gored.

 When Roommates are Objectionable (Law Firm of Braverman Greenspun) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 8:48

What do you do when a roommate is making others uncomfortable? That is what’s going on at 75 West 238th Street in the Bronx, and Kennita Anderson, the property manager from Robert E. Hill who oversees the co-op, is asking for advice. Listen as Robert Braverman, a partner in Braverman Greenspun, and Dale Degenshein, special counsel in the real estate department of Stroock Stroock & Lavan, help Ms Anderson figure out who the real culprit is and how to deal with the problem.

 Subletting As Mini-Business | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 9:09

Norma Bellino’s board at a 420-unit Manhattan co-op is dealing with a crafty serial subletter. It has fined the shareholder, but it seems his subletting business is too good to be thwarted by a monetary slap. What should the board do next? Phyllis Weisberg, a partner in Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, and Seth Sahr, a partner in Novitt, Sahr & Snow, team up to offer some strategies to undercut the subletter’s mini-business, ending it once and for all.

 Condo Arrears: Cutting Them Off At The Amenity Pass (Law Firms of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, and Racht & Taffae) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 9:08

Condo amenities are great – there are gyms, pools, tennis courts, playrooms, and roof decks, and they all add to the value of apartments. But there’s a dark underbelly to all this glitz: when owners fall behind on monthly common charges, they stand to lose access to these goodies. That is the case at a Long Island condo, and the board is wondering if it can cut off the delinquents at the amenity pass. Listen as Theresa Racht, partner at Racht & Taffae, and Steve Wagner, principal at Porzio, Bromberg and Newman, untangle the problem for the managers.

 Flip Tax Do-Over (Law Firm of Borah, Goldstein, Altschuler, Nahins & Goidel) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 11:06

After slogging through years of a quiet real estate market, many co-op coffers are once again being replenished by the flip tax, a dollar figure that is attached to the sale of an apartment and unique to each co-op corporation. But what if your co-op has one that seems out of sync with today’s apartment values?


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