CooperatorNews Chicagoland Spring 2022
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Spring 2022                            CHICAGO.COOPERATORNEWS.COM  CHICAGOLAND  THE CONDO, HOA & CO-OP RESOURCE  COOPERATORNEWS  continued on page 12  205 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY 10016 • CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED  continued on page 8  First-time buyers in condo associations, co-ops, and other multifamily residential com-  munities are often surprised—and a bit confused—by the way in which their new building   or HOA operates. Whether they are coming from a rental background or a single-family   home experience, condo/co-op living, and its administrative and governance structure,   differs dramatically from both. In a condo, you can’t depend on the super for everything as   you might in a rental, nor can you undertake to do whatever you’d like without any prior   approval, as you would in a single-family home.  Renter Mentality  “At the root of a lot of first-time owners’ misconceptions and misunderstandings is   a lack of understanding and knowledge about what monthly assessments—also known   as common charges or maintenance—are for, and what they cover,” says Eric Staszczak,   executive vice president for property management with Westward360, a Chicago-based   management firm. “People assume that anything and everything they have—including   their furniture in the event of a damage event, for example—is the responsibility of the   association. They assume the building will take care of everything. But that’s a renter’s   mentality.”   Rita Sprudzs, a senior property manager also with Westward360, outlines another com-  mon problem: “Many times, co-op shareholders don’t understand that they don’t actually   own the space they occupy. They are shareholders in a corporation that owns the property.   They have a proprietary lease for their unit that is assigned to them by the corporation   that owns the building.” This misapprehension can lead to a great deal of frustration and   acrimony when a shareholder’s plans to alter or upgrade their unit butts up against the   board’s authority—and duty—to review and approve (or reject) those plans based on how   they may impact other units, or the building’s shared elements, including wiring, plumb-  ing, or infrastructure.   “Another common issue is that many condo owners think their   board has as much power as a co-op board to intervene in quality-  of-life disputes, such as noisy neighbors,” says Stuart Halper, prin-  cipal of Impact Management, a New York-based management firm,   “but they don’t. A condo board cannot remove an owner due to   ‘bad behavior.’ If you have an inconsiderate neighbor, the board   can’t do a thing.”   Spring Maintenance  Prepare & Perform  BY DARCEY GERSTEIN  Orienting New Owners  Getting Smart About Condo & Co-op Life  BY A. J. SIDRANSKY  NEW BOARD   MEMBER  It’s that time of year again. Birds are   chirping; trees are blooming; property   managers and co-op and condo boards   are addressing their task lists for the   change of seasons. Whether it’s a Wrig-  leyville  walk-up  or  a  Streeterville  su-  pertall, a dense city development or a   sprawling suburban complex, a building   up north still shoveling snow or a south-  ern community whose pool is open year-  round,  spring  is  the  time  to  give  every   property a little sprucing up.   Early Bird vs. Worm  According to the pros, winter’s short,   dark days are the perfect time to get a   jump on spring planning. Well in ad-  vance of the first robin’s appearance,   checklists  should  be  in  order,  vendors   and suppliers contacted and scheduled,   and  staff  and  board  members  prepared   so that everything comes up roses—or   tulips—when the weather starts to warm.   “Doing the prep work now can possi-  bly save you money in the end,” says Alan   Bressler, Chairman of the Board & Chief   Operating Officer of Guardian Services   in New York, which provides a range of   facility services to buildings and com-  munities throughout the Northeast, New   England, and the Mid-Atlantic. “Getting   all your key stakeholders involved early   can really improve your facility mainte-  nance operation.”  Brian Butler, CMCA, CAM, PCAM,   senior vice president—high rise at First-  Service Residential Illinois, agrees. “The   best thing that a board can do to prepare   for the spring is to fight the urge to de-  fer reviewing details or making deci-  sions related to upcoming capital repair   needs,” he says. “If boards wait until the   spring thaw comes to begin making de-  cisions and hiring contractors, they’ll of-  ten find that the schedules for the work   are tighter, and pricing may be higher   Capital Design   Projects   There’s Always Room    for Improvement   BY DARCEY GERSTEIN  There’s  a  riddle  in  a  popular  children’s   book that asks, ‘What’s the largest room in   the world?’ After much consideration and   many incorrect guesses, one of the characters   in the book has the answer: “Why, the largest   room in the world is   room for improvement!”  If you’ve lived in a multifamily commu-  nity for any amount of time, it’s hard to argue   with that statement. A residential building or   complex can always stand to be improved,   whether with an aesthetic update, design   overhaul, or an upgrade of its machinery or   systems—but even the most discretionary   improvements can open a Pandora’s box of   regulatory requirements. Likewise, upgrades   intended to make a multifamily building or   community code compliant very often force   some design and decor decisions—so mak-  ing a ‘simple’ improvement is often anything   but.   Best Laid Plans  With so many variables in play and po-  tential points at which things can go awry   with a capital design project, the pros say the   best way to ensure that it goes smoothly is to   do as much up-front planning and organiz-  ing as possible. According to Michael Refat,   the Canton, Massachusetts-based Regional   Director for national property management   company FirstService Residential, that starts   with lining up a team of competent profes-  sionals to advise on all aspects of the project   before it gets going, starting with an engi-  neer.   “We always advise the trustees, before   they engage in any kind of renovations, to   get a consulting engineer \[who can\] advise   them if the project will trigger code compli-  ance  or  not,” says Refat.  “Usually  \[clients\]   think that redesigning the lobby or the hall-  way is a matter of cosmetics. But when they   start the project, they’re confronted with the   reality that there is a large added expense to   bring the alarm system, the fire suppression   system, the sprinkler system, the panels into   compliance; otherwise, \[the governing body   won’t\] give the building a certificate of occu-  pancy.”  Refat adds that first and foremost, when   a board heads into negotiations with an   engineer, they should come to the meeting   continued on page 8

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