Friday, March 9, 2007

Who Should Pay for a Heating Unit?

New York Times
March 9, 2007

Q Two engineers sent by my co-op board determined that I need a second heating unit. Am I responsible for installing and paying for this, or is the co-op? Also, the building manager told me that New York City 's Oct. 1 to May 31 heating guidelines do not apply to co-ops. Is this true?

A "The city's heating guidelines apply to all multiple dwellings regardless of form of ownership," said Elliott Meisel, a Manhattan co-op and condo lawyer. He added that in many older buildings, heat is provided by a central boiler circulating steam or hot water through pipes that connect to radiators in the apartments.

Responsibility for providing sufficient heat would typically fall to the building, he said, but it is possible for a co-op's proprietary lease to make the shareholder responsible for the radiators inside the apartment.

In some newer or renovated buildings, each apartment has its own heating and air-conditioning units similar to the ones found in hotels. In such cases, the proprietary lease is more likely to make apartment owners responsible for maintaining these units.

In addition, Mr. Meisel said, it is possible that the heating system in the letter writer's apartment originally met city heating standards but that a former owner removed a heating unit. In such a case, he said, the co-op might hold the current owner responsible for restoring the heating system to its original configuration.

"Without knowing what kind of heating units are in the writer's apartment and what the co-op proprietary lease provides," Mr. Meisel said, "it would be difficult to determine who would be responsible for additional heating facilities."

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