Matthew Adam Properties

NYC's Property Management Leader

City’s Fight Against Asthma

City’s Fight Against Asthma 900 450 Matthew Adam Properties

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

Add this to the growing list of forms, regulations and paperwork required of residential buildings in New York. It’s Local Law 55 passed in 2018, which requires annual reports about the presence of molds, pests and other allergens that cause or exacerbate asthma.

The law (The Asthma-Free Housing Act) became effective in January 2019, but the onslaught of the Covid pandemic in 2020 halted the required inspections. Now, the city is back to total enforcement. During Covid, residents were asked to notify the landlord and the city if mold existed in their units or public areas. Inspections were deferred in all but the most serious cases and the city distributed information on remediating the problems while maintaining social distancing. Taking photos of problem areas was recommended as well as tips on cleaning many of the areas using non-chemical treatments.

The law sets out rules and procedures for buildings of three units and more to keep apartments and public areas free of indoor allergen hazards, mainly molds and pests. The law is specifically aimed at molds, rodents and cockroaches.

These procedures include investigating and remediating the allergen hazards and fixing building conditions that may cause or contribute to the growth of molds or pests. Local Law 55 requires visual inspections of all readily accessible areas along with moisture, temperature and infrared camera readings looking for mold, pests and defects such as leaks, moisture and entry points for pests. The reports are required to be filed with the department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD).

The law details five primary requirements:

  • Vacant units must be cleared of all visible mold and pest infestations prior to re-occupancy.
  • Mandatory annual inspections of all units; buildings must conduct additional inspections in response to resident complaints and violations.
  • Buildings must provide an annual notice and Local Law 55 fact sheet to all residents.
  • A state-licensed mold assessor and remediator is required if there are 10-plus square feet of mold in a building with more than 10 units.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices must be used.

Integrated Pest Management is a best management system that downgrades the role of chemical pesticides that do not get to the base of the problem. IPM is a safer and more effective system that targets and fixes the underlying causes of pest problems, improves building conditions, and saves time and money long term.

Implementing an IPM plan can improve indoor air quality, prevent pest-related damage to building systems, and provide long-term pest control. Specifically, the IPM procedures include inspecting and removing pest nests, waste and debris; eliminating sources of water that attract pests by repairing drains, faucets and other plumbing; and repairing cracks and sealing entry points for pests.

While this column focuses on its implementation in urban areas, IPM is also employed in farm and rural communities to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

With dangerous toxins and spores floating in air, safe work practices are required during inspection and cleanup including correcting underlying defects and using properly covered vacuum tools and non-chemical cleaning agents for clean-up.

Managing agents, boards and landlords are required to provide information to residents about Local Law 55 and what they can do to maintain a healthy environment. A fact sheet prepared by HPD advises steps for tenants including, keeping homes clean and dry, safely handling food and garbage, and reporting pests, leaks or holes cracks in the wall and floors. They are encouraged to call 311 if the remediation is not done promptly or poorly.

For lease renewals or owner transfers, residents should receive a copy of the Department of Health’s fact sheet as well as a notice identifying both building and resident responsibilities.

Buildings are required to correct any violations within a certain time period. Failure to do so can lead to fines from $10 to $125/day to a maximum of $10,000.

Ira Meister
President and CEO
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street – 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038
212-699-8900
imeister@matthewadam.com

Preparing for Winter 2022

Preparing for Winter 2022 900 600 Matthew Adam Properties

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

While much of our attention over the past nearly three years has been on Covid-19, properties need to remain vigilant about proper upkeep and maintanenace of the physical structure. While we do not know when the next variant will come, or its impact, we do know that the proper vaccine for buildings is preparedness, especially for winter when the elements can create havoc. Fall is the time to start preparations to lessen the possibility of damage to both the building’s interior and exterior.

While our asset managers and building staffs are vigilant throughout the year to ensure all systems are operating properly and necessary repairs are made when problems arise, we pay special attention during the fall to make certain that we are prepared for the winter days. There are numerous items on our checklist.

One essential matter requiring an early start is bringing in a professional boiler company while the heating systems are down during the summer to clean the boiler, inspect to see what repairs, if any, are required and test the system. Failure to do this can lead to a breakdown during a frigid day and increased expense. Dirt build-up in boilers significantly reduces their efficiency adding energy costs. In recent years, many properties we manage have converted to gas, a cleaner fuel that reduces both maintenance costs and the possibility of dirt build-up. Fuel usage is monitored during the winter months for non-weather-related increases, often a sign of boiler or delivery system problems.

Pipe insulation is checked to reduce the loss of heat, maintain maximum efficiency and reduce pipes freezing.

The roof is another important area. We make certain all debris is removed and the drains are clear. Often during cold spells snow and ice freezes on the drains and when they thaw, the drains can’t handle the flow which can accumulate on the roof and seep into units below.

Another area to check is terraces. Residents should follow the same procedures to see whether drains are clogged and barriers need repair.

Many buildings have roof-top water tanks which require monitoring. If controls operating the wood tanks and the piping aren’t properly insulated or protected, water can freeze within the tank. Slight leaks on the tank can freeze and expand the wood leading to damage when the ice thaws.

If a building has window air conditioning units that remain year-round, we work with the residents to be certain they are properly sealed to prevent draughts and the loss of heat. If the units are removed, we ask residents to notify building staff so we can check if there is damage to the casement causing loss of heat.

Exterior water lines exposed to the cold are shut down and drained to prevent the pipes from bursting during extreme cold.

Units with working fireplaces need to have them professionally inspected and cleaned prior to the winter when they receive the most use. Flew dampers need to be open and operating correctly to prevent backdrafts causing smoke damage to walls, furniture and paintings.

Winter preparation includes checking supplies so the building is prepared for a snowstorm. This has become a bigger issue with supply chain disruptions We want to have adequate sand and sidewalk ice melt to last through a heavy snow season and not have to scurry around to find more when it is needed. We check to insure there is sufficient snow removal equipment.

From experience, we understand the importance of taking the steps discussed above, and others, to ensure that the residents of properties we manage have a warm and safe winter.

Ira Meister
President and CEO
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street – 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038
212-699-8900
imeister@matthewadam.com

Continued Vigilance for the Unexpected

Continued Vigilance for the Unexpected 900 600 Matthew Adam Properties

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

One lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic is that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. In fact, the unexpected is now commonplace. As I write this, New York City is in another surge cycle and we do not know which variant, if any, will pop up next. This puts a burden on all of us as we schedule events and go about our daily lives — what guidelines do we follow and what personal decisions do we make?

Property managers face the same quandary. What procedures and rules should we relax, and which maintain? For our properties, in consultation with the boards, we have taken a conservative approach and maintained many of the rules and procedures established when the pandemic overwhelmed us more than two years ago. Yes, it’s been a long haul.

Let’s look at what we have been doing. For more than a decade, Matthew Adam Properties has emphasized the use of non-toxic and extremely effective cleaning materials. While we have been using these in many of the properties we manage, we have extended this to additional properties. Not only are these more effective cleaning materials, but they provide a safer and healthier environment for residents, visitors and staff.

In conjunction with this we have also expanded our warehousing of supplies. We all know about supply chain issues that have prevailed since the pandemic began for cleaning materials and almost everything else. We have adapted the practices of many of our institutional clients to maintain adequate supplies rather than rely on “just-in-time” deliveries. In doing so, we invest in having sufficient PPE’s (personal protective equipment) and other products and applications on hand.

Added to the above, we have significantly stepped up our cleaning protocols by increasing the number of times a day our staffs clean the public areas.

Probably no issue has caused more controversy regionally, nationwide and globally than the use of masks. While requirements and practices are changing, many buildings we manage still require staff to wear masks to protect themselves as well as residents and guests. One concern is that many of the staff take public transportation to work and increasingly fewer people are wearing masks on the subways and buses. The mask requirements also applies to vendors and contractors.

We continue monitoring the health of each staff member. We expanded our cleaning protocols to include sanitizing employee locker rooms. While the city and medical facilities reduced availability for testing, we encourage staff to test regularly, particularly now when there are expanding cases where people are asymptomatic. Most union insurance that our staffs have provide testing kits.
While restrictions have lessened in the past few months, some buildings still do not permit deliveries to the unit and when they do they make certain the delivery person goes directly to the correct floor and apartment.

Gyms have been an issue since day one of the pandemic, with many closing for months in the beginning and then at surge times. Many buildings still require proof of vaccination and boosters, and boards are asking users to wear masks, though it is not mandatory. Since the start of the pandemic some buildings have improved the air circulation systems in the gyms, which usually are located in windowless spaces.

Matthew Adam Properties represents a broad range of clients including foreign governments, medical institutions, universities as well as co-ops and condominiums. It’s interesting to see that each group, with variations within the groups, have their own priorities on rules and procedures. Those that handle considerable traffic each day, such as medical facilities and universities, have different protocols than let’s say a small co-op or condo.

With all the focus on health and safety and with the added expense over the past two-plus years, it’s important that properties maintain their preventive maintenance programs for systems. Failure to do so can only lead to costly future problems. If a property has fallen behind, now is the time to bring the inspections and maintenance up to date. With rising costs throughout the economy, repair costs will only increase as we move forward.

Ira Meister
President and CEO
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street – 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038
212-699-8900
imeister@matthewadam.com

Meeting Local Law 97 Deadlines

Meeting Local Law 97 Deadlines 900 600 Matthew Adam Properties

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

Back in 2019 I wrote about Local Law 97 which requires all buildings of more than 25,000 to meet certain levels of carbon emissions by 2024 and then imposes more stringent requirements by 2030 and beyond to 2050. The city estimated that about 20 percent of buildings would require work to meet the 2024 deadline and nearly 75 percent by 2030. It seemed a long way off then and with the Covid pandemic descending about a year after the law was passed focus on complying was lax.

Well, the deadline is fast approaching and the city estimates about 2,700 buildings (including co-ops and condos) need to upgrade to comply with the first phase of the law. As with commercial buildings, most of those needing work are smaller properties.

It’s a combination of factors, says Darren Johnson, senior account manager of Bright Power, a provider of energy and water management services. “A lot of owners are hoping this will go away,” he says. Additionally, smaller buildings often lack the data to know how compliant they are. And time is running out.

“The timeline to do the work is closing fast for the buildings that need to get below the 2024 emissions cap,” Johnson says, so buildings that have done little are behind the eight ball now and need to move quickly.

One issue confronting buildings was the lack of rules, in effect putting properties in limbo notes Amanda Clevinger, policy and programs manager at Bright Power. The city released preliminary directives in October and after hearings is expected to finalize them in January.

The proposed regulations include formulas to determine a building’s energy use and annual greenhouse gas emissions and the limit to comply. It also sets forth the procedure to determine a building’s gross floor area for the purpose of reporting to the department. One area that is more beneficial to commercial properties than residential is permitting owners to comply by offsetting emissions from electricity by buying renewable energy credits from solar and wind projects. Most residential buildings run on fossil fuels for heating and hot water.

Clevinger points out that while the law is aggressive in seeking to limit carbon emissions, the city has not provided sufficient budget to regulate it.

What do buildings need to do to comply? Since most carbon emissions are generated within individual residences, buildings can leverage utility and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) incentive programs to reduce the use of energy in the units. Probably the first step is hiring an energy company to analyze current usage and help the building develop short and long-term plans. As I have previously warned, beware of working with a start-up company that formed solely to assist with compliance for the new law.

The city now requires annual benchmarking of energy use. This information can be used in determining energy usage and where reductions can be made.

Johnson said areas of concentration include heating and hot water to reduce the amount of energy they require. During this century, technology has come to the market to help properties control and equalize the flow of heat to reduce fuel use. Similar efforts can be made with cooling systems. This helps, coupled with work on the exterior and windows to reduce the loss of heat and air conditioning.

For hot water, Johnson points to such basic efforts as reducing the fixtures’ flow. Many larger properties have installed these improvements, but they do cost.

While numerous buildings and individuals now use LED bulbs, lighting overall does not represent the largest use of electricity in an apartment building.

Buildings requiring work to meet the 2024 requirements should take a long-range view, Johnson and Clevinger say. Just meeting the minimum standards for 2024 leaves a big gap to fill by 2030, which we have seen from the current timeline comes with the speed of a sprinter, not a marathon runner. So too for buildings in compliance for 2024 but faced with new equipment needs. These properties should look at options that will satisfy requirements beyond 2030 not just the most economic short-term solution. While it may be more expensive now, in the long-term buildings will come out ahead. Another factor when considering long-term planning is increased costs for materials and work as the deadlines approach.

Ira Meister
President and CEO
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street – 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038
212-699-8900
imeister@matthewadam.com

Ongoing Co-op/Condo Property Tax Debate

Ongoing Co-op/Condo Property Tax Debate 900 506 Matthew Adam Properties

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

Much of the discussion recently in co-op and condo circles has revolved around a recent state law that removes the property tax abatement for buildings not paying prevailing wages. This applies to non-union buildings, mainly smaller properties.

While an important issue for concerned buildings, the elephant in the room is the disparity between the tax rate for one-three family homes and co-ops, condos and rentals. The latter group pays a significantly higher property tax rate than the first creating a larger tax bill. This unbalance has existed since 1981 despite numerous attempts to equalize it. The power for change rests with the City Council of New York, and progressive members representing districts with many single-family homes predominate.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves let’s look at the tax abatement issue.

Prior to enactment of the recent prevailing wage law, co-ops and condos since 1997 were entitled to an abatement on their property taxes ranging from 28.1 percent on properties assessed below $50,000 to 17.5 percent for properties assessed over $60,000. This is based on assessed valuation, a small percentage of the actual selling value.

The new law, pushed by Local 32BJ and other unions representing building employees, requires co-ops and condos to pay the prevailing wage with benefits, what union members receive, or lose the abatement. Employees included are doormen, porters, handymen, janitors, security guards and others who work at least eight hours a week in the building. In effect, it is the entire building service staff.

Whether or not buildings opt to pay the prevailing wage and maintain the abatement or exit comes down to dollars and cents. Some estimates say that the cost for a union employee is about 50 percent higher than a non-union employee. Buildings, in making the determination, look at the bottom line and analyze if it they benefit with the abatement and paying the prevailing wage, or opting out. In many cases a property gains by opting out.

Co-ops and condos have until February 15 of each year to decide the route for the upcoming year. Properties with more than 30 units and an assessed valuation of more than $60,000 and those with less than 30 units with assessed valuation of $100,000-plus need to file an annual certification that they are paying the prevailing wage.

A sidenote, because of the corporate structure of condos and co-ops, the abatement affects each differently. Shareholders in co-ops pay the real estate tax as part of the monthly maintenance fee. The abated funds are returned to the building but the cooperative must distribute the abatement. What many/most cooperatives do to recover approximately the same amount is to levy a per share assessment on all shareholders at the same time as they distribute the abatement. In condos, the unit-owner pays the taxes directly to the city and the abatement is returned to the unit-owner. To be eligible, the unit must be the primary residence.

While the abatement helps reduce taxes for residents of co-ops and condos, it doesn’t cover the disparity in real estate taxes between them and owners of single-family homes. The city tax rate for single-family homes is comparatively low compared to taxes in the region. To make up the difference for the city coffers, the burden is placed on co-ops and condos. They are classified as Class 2 properties as are rental buildings and valued as income producing buildings.

The actual assessment for co-ops and condos is based on a complex process that establishes a market value taking into account the property’s income and expenses compared to similar rental properties. From this, and other factors, the assessed value, upon which taxes are based, is determined. The result is that the co-op and condo assessment is much higher than it would be if based on the Class 1 single-family formula.

Right now, the focus is on the prevailing wage issue, which does impact a certain number of non-union buildings. Long-term this will have a negative impact on those properties, but the big, real focus is on the overall imbalance in the tax rates. With so much discussion on equity and affordability in housing, it will probably require a Solomon to find a solution, and then not everyone will be happy.

Ira Meister
President and CEO
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.
375 Pearl Street – 14th Floor
New York, NY 10038
212-699-8900
imeister@matthewadam.com

Court Sets Parameters for Construction Access to Adjoining Buildings

Court Sets Parameters for Construction Access to Adjoining Buildings 1079 720 Matthew Adam Properties

Published in MANN REPORT

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

New York real estate is in constant flux – new buildings go up, older ones expanding or renovated.

For construction to proceed often requires accessing space of adjoining buildings. Most times, the two parties agree with a handshake defining the guidelines and reimbursements to the adjacent building. But an interesting case recently decided in the New York State Appellate Division brings many of the issues to the fore and indicates that often these days the negotiations are getting more contentious.

In the case, Matter of Panasia Estate Inc v 29 W.19th Condominium, Panasia Estate wanted to add two floors comprising 15,000 square feet of office space to its six-story building. However, the condominium at 29 W. 19th Street and some unitowners demanded license fees, payment for expenses and other items that the owners of Panasia considered excessive.

When the parties couldn’t agree, Panasia filed a court a proceeding under Section 881 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Act requesting an order allowing access. Judge Eileen A. Rakower of the State Supreme Court granted Panasia the right to enter the property at 29 W.19th Street “to conduct a preconstruction survey and install certain protection,” but with monetary provisions Panasia thought excessive. Panasia Estate, Inc. v. 29 W. 19 Condo., No. 2022-00 Judge Rakower ordered Panasia to post a bond in the amount of $1,000,000 and provide proof that the parties at 29 W. 19th Street are added as additional insureds in the insurance policy and ordered Panasia to pay monthly license fees to two unit-owners with terraces
at 29 W. 19th as well as to MKF Realty Corp., owners of the building on the west side of the Panasia property. The court further ordered Panasia to pay MKF engineering fees of $40,500 and for payment to 29 W. 19 Condominium and the individual unit-owners $10,000 for attorneys’fees and $3,500 in engineering fees.

The appellate court in its decision vacated Judge Rakower’s ruling, reducing the fees and costs for Panasia.

“This case is not the usual circumstances,” for a such a process under the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law 881, said William D. McCracken, real estate partner at Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer.

“Traditionally, access agreements were concluded more amicably with a handshake and filling out the agreement forms. In recent years, however, it has become more common to see demands for significant access fees that hold projects hostage.”

Here’s some background. The initial negotiations over a license fee for Panasia to enter the adjoining property and for engineering and attorneys’ fees stalled and Panasia commenced this proceeding in Supreme Court. The court ordered Panasia to pay a monthly license fee of $3,000 to the residents of the penthouse at 29 W. 19th St, increasing after 12 months and then 24
months and a monthly license fee of $1,000 to the firstfloor unit-owner also with escalations and a monthly license fee of $1,200 to MKF, with the periodic increases, The court further ordered Panasia to reimburse the 29 W. 19 Condominium and the two unitowners $10, 000 for attorneys’ fees and $3,500 for engineering fees and MKF $15,278.36 for attorneys’ fees and $40,500 for engineering fees.

All parties appealed the Supreme Court decision to the appellate division for various reasons.

The appellate court said that a property owner requiring access to an adjacent property when permission has been refused may commence a special proceeding for a license to proceed which shall be granted by the court “upon such terms as justice requires.” The court also stated the property granting access “should not have to bear any costs resulting to the access.” The license fee also reimburses the property for “substantial interference with the use and enjoyment” of their property and the decreased property value during the licensing period.

The appellate court vacated the Supreme Court’s award saying the court “abused its discretion” and said MKF and the unit-owners at 29 W. 19th condominium should be reimbursed for actual expenses for engineering and attorney costs. The court further limited the licensing fees to 24 months, without any escalations and said the project should start timely and proceed “diligently.”

Attorney McCracken said that these types of agreements can become more formal over time with the increase in façade work under Local Law 11, which requires periodic inspection, and repair work if needed, of the exterior of New York City hi-rise buildings.

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New Law on Cybersecurity

New Law on Cybersecurity 720 480 Matthew Adam Properties

Published in MANN REPORT

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

We read about it daily. Whether it’s a political campaign, bank, corporation, department store or municipal government, computer hacking is a major crime issue. To combat its growth and force corporations to take appropriate steps to protect their data and that of individuals, New York State passed the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) law which went into effect March 1, 2020. With the laser-like focus on the outbreak and spread of Covid-19, attention to this law has been pushed down in our priorities, though it is in effect.

Included in the corporations covered are co-ops and condos which are now subjected to stricter penalties and fines. It is incumbent on every board and management company in the city to actively take steps to comply. This includes establishing procedures to protect the data, selecting an administrator to oversee and implement the program — whether it is the managing agent or an outside service — and reviewing insurance policies to be certain there is sufficient cybersecurity coverage. At Matthew Adam Properties, we work with third-party vendors to administer the cybersecurity of the buildings we manage.

As we have learned, even the most sophisticated computer systems are vulnerable to attacks. Having a basic security program and firewall doesn’t do the trick.

The law requires all businesses handling personally identifiable information to implement reasonable administrative, technical, and physical data safeguards. Failure to comply and if information is compromised can lead to fines, investigations, and lawsuits. Previously, the maximum fine for failing to notify those affected by a data breach was $100,000; under the new law the number balloon to $250,000. And enforcement is expected to be more stringent.

Until now, real estate systems have not been prime targets of hackers. But the systems of co-ops and condos can be a rich loadstone for criminals with detailed information including social security numbers, bank accounts as well as credit history and financial statements. Included in the information to be protected are security codes, access codes, usernames and passwords and even bio-metric information such as fingerprints, voice prints or ocular images. In effect, any information that would permit criminals to gain access to individual accounts or information.

The first step to comply is to review what data is stored, what procedures are in place to safeguard it (are there hard copies that must be destroyed?) and what safeguards are needed.

The Shield law mandates the implementation of a data security program and requires the business (co-op or condo) to include measures such as risk assessments, workforce training and incident response planning and testing.

Steps should be taken to limit the access to data to office computers and not having information on laptops or tablets that can be taken offsite and used in public WIFI areas.

Other areas in the security program include establishing technical safeguards to assess networks, software design, information processing, transmission and storage and measures to detect, prevent and respond to incursions. Businesses of fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues in the last three fiscal years or less than $5 million in total assets may scale their program based on the size and complexity, the scope of activities and the nature of the information collected.

If the information is disclosed either intentionally or unintentionally, the organization must provide expeditious notices to any individuals affected. This can be done through written or electronic (such as email) notice, or via phone.

With the possibility of expensive litigation and costs if there is a breach, boards should explore adding cybersecurity insurance, which can drastically reduce exposure. Such insurance, which is not expensive, can cover hiring an attorney to defend against lawsuits as well as costs to notify potentially affected parties.

Other expenses that can be covered include crisis management to set up a call center to provide information on specific questions, paying the cost for credit monitoring for those affected, and public relations to assist the co-op, condo or management company to rebuild its reputation. The insurance will also help cover the cost of fines. Compliance with the law is essential, without this insurance companies may not cover the losses.

As technology becomes increasingly complex and criminals more sophisticated in their ability to hack systems, it is essential that boards not only follow the dictates of the new law, but also explore what additional steps may be necessary to protect the valuable information the co-op or condo possesses.

Who Would Have Thought?

Who Would Have Thought? 1200 720 Matthew Adam Properties

Published in MANN REPORT
By Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

I am writing this column at the beginning of May when it is difficult to foresee what will happen in the following months. Will the curve continue downward or will we have a relapse with cases increasing? What and how many businesses will open and at what level? How will restaurants cope? And finally, and probably most important, how will we as residents of this great city respond to the government strictures and the restricted movement.

From the perspective of a managing agent, we need to be adaptable to the changes, but maintain as a priority the safety and heath of the residents and staffs of the properties under management. Until there is a proven and widely available vaccine, we will continue with the rigorous cleaning of all public areas along with many of the procedures we have adopted for delivery of food and other items as well as the access of visitors.

On this we will follow the direction and procedures established by the boards as well as the recommendations of public officials and medical professionals.

Those who are infected with COVID-19 must quarantine in their apartments and should notify the superintendent, asset manager or resident manager. Their identities will be kept confidential, but this will permit us to provide more assistance for food shopping and picking up garbage left outside the apartment door. In addition, if an infected person is going to a doctor or the hospital, we can provide a route for them that will not put others in danger of infection.

We encourage residents to help each other either through organized groups or individually with shopping and checking in on residents living alone, particularly the elderly, even if they are not infected.

As we slowly get back to the new normal, we will be able to begin non-emergency maintenance, but we have asked residents to be patient as in most properties we have delayed most of this work during the lockdown.

One thing that’s been emphasized in this frightening episode in our nation’s history is the importance of planning. While so much is uncertain, we are working with our boards to look ahead. Most boards have a calendar year budget cycle. It is not too early to look at the current budget to see where there might be revenue shortfalls and continue to review policies for non-payment of monthly charges and commercial rent. It will also be helpful to consider options in the event the association requires additional funds.

Another area is construction. Have projects been suspended? What is the impact on these, as well as upcoming projects, whether roof work or rehabbing of public spaces? Which ones can proceed and which must be rescheduled? The same holds true for other capital improvements. What is planned for the current year and which projects should stay on schedule and which should be pushed into future years?

To assist the residents of our buildings, we send a weekly newsletter identifying ways to cope with the lockdown such as links to websites for take-out, exercising, cleaning cell phones, making masks, how long the virus lives on various surfaces and health sites. We also remind them of protocols and general procedures.

The past few months we’ve lived through a script we only thought possible in a sci-fi movie. Who would have envisioned a comatose New York City with restaurants closed, little traffic and TV scenes of Times Square where the number of pedestrians could be counted on two hands? Through it, New Yorkers have risen to the occasion and exhibited the discipline, grit, diligence and true neighborliness that help make our city so great.

Our ability to overcome this unthinkable tragedy shines a spotlight on all New Yorkers. The doctors, nurses, hospital staffs, EMS personnel, police, and firefighters have given their all, and in some cases their lives, in their efforts to save the lives of many. Our asset managers, staffs, superintendents and resident managers, have provided service to enable the residents of our buildings to adhere to the guidelines that seek to keep all of us safe. The essential service workers in food markets, pharmacies and other vital services deserve our great gratitude.

Tracing the Fight Against Covid-19

Tracing the Fight Against Covid-19 1080 720 Matthew Adam Properties

Published in MANN REPORT

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

Masks, testing and….contact tracing according to most scientists provide the firepower to help defeat the coronavirus. Amidst the often confusing and contradictory information emanating about Covid-19, there is overwhelming agreement that contact tracing is a key tool. As part of our efforts to combat the pandemic, Matthew Adam Properties has created its own tracing system to protect residents, guests and staff in our buildings.

What are our procedures? We maintain a ledger at the front desk with the names of all visitors, vendors and others who enter the building listing who they are visiting and their cell phone number.  We also log which staff have entered an apartment, such as handymen. If a resident is infected with the virus, we know who had been in the apartment.

Currently, we are working to upgrade our efficiency with software to perform the same functions with a system that protects people’s privacy, while providing the necessary information. We are close to finding one.

Our strategic Covid-19 plans include having ready back-up for emergencies.  When a visitor or resident tests positive, we bring in a professional sanitation company that can respond in hours. They use the highest-grade materials, exceeding basic guidelines, and making certain to eliminate residue in the air or on furniture, doorknobs, etc.

This is one of many steps we have taken since the coronavirus charged full throttle into our lives last winter.  We follow CDC guidelines and, as in the case of the ledger, we expanded in certain areas.

Those infected with Covid-19 should quarantine in their apartments and notify the superintendent, asset manager or resident manager. Their identities are kept confidential, but this permits us to provide assistance for food shopping and picking up garbage left outside the apartment door.  In addition, if an infected person is going to a doctor or the hospital, we can provide a route for them that limits danger of infection to others. We encourage residents to help each other either through organized groups or individually with shopping and checking in on residents living alone, particularly the elderly, even if they are not infected. These can be lonely times.

While we impose certain requirements to protect everyone’s safety, final decisions on procedures are made by the boards of the properties we manage. We mandate doormen, concierge staff and all employees to wear masks and gloves. Doormen and concierges also wear face shields along with masks to provide greater protection and protective shields have been installed at desks. Hand sanitizers are stationed throughout the lobby and public areas.

Elevators are cleaned on a regular basis with occupancy limited to three persons.  Public areas are cleaned and sanitized throughout the day using top-grade materials. Whenever possible, we maintain our policy of using non-toxic cleaning materials for the safety of residents, guests and staff.

Staffs are checked every day when they report to work for any symptoms.

We maintain a very conservative policy on deliveries. Except for perishables, we recommend that holding deliveries in our package rooms for about three days. I like to compare this to getting a gift for Christmas or Hanukkah and holding it for the holiday. If it is not perishable or essential, why not be very safe?

While many buildings opened gyms and pools, we follow city guidelines on opening and closing. One issue with indoor health facilities is air quality and having sufficient clean-air intake. Most fitness centers are in enclosed basement or first-floor areas increasing the importance of having an effective air-filtration system.

Boards and residents are encouraged to make recommendations on safety improvements. As with most aspects of this pandemic, from gaining knowledge about the nature of the virus and its long-term impact on those stricken, to the use of masks, social distancing and size of crowds, we are learning each day. As we find and analyze new procedures and guidelines, we adapt those we believe will be useful always following our conservative policy. Even with positive news about vaccines, I believe a strong semblance of normal won’t return for at least a year, so we must be vigilant every hour of every day.

Elevators Focus of Sweeping Building Code Revamp

Elevators Focus of Sweeping Building Code Revamp 1001 720 Matthew Adam Properties

Published in MANN REPORT

By
Ira Meister,
President and CEO,
Matthew Adam Properties, Inc.

On January 1, 2021, a sweeping update of the city’s building codes went into effect covering plumbing, building and mechanical systems along with emergency response, and flooding regulations with a significant portion lifting requirements for elevator maintenance and upgrades.

According to the city’s Department of Buildings, this is the first holistic update of the entire set of NYC Administrative, Plumbing, Building, Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes since 2014. The more than 600 major updates and thousands of smaller changes were drafted by technical committees composed of engineers, architects, attorneys, planners, tradespeople, representatives, of various industries and utilities, and many others.

One notable change is transferring the responsibility for conducting elevator inspections to owners of buildings as well as co-op and condo boards. The requirement requires the owner/boards to outsource periodic inspections to an approved elevator agency not affiliated with the company performing maintenance and repairs. The changes follow a state comptroller’s audit revealing elevator safety violations by third-party agencies subcontracted by the Department of Buildings when the DOB was responsible for the inspections. The inspection and testing procedures were previously revamped in 2009 requiring annual rather than bi-annual inspections, frequent tests and third-party witnesses.

The new code requires performing inspections during the calendar year at least three months after any Category 1 testing or a previous periodic inspection. For new installations, the initial test must be performed in the calendar year following the final acceptance test. Reporting of the inspections is required within 14 days, and all necessary work to must be corrected within 90 days followed in 14 days by an Affirmation of Correction.

The new inspections can provide boards with information about what upgrades are necessary to comply with a regulation effective in 2025 requiring the replacement of single-plunger machine brakes for traction elevators with a dual-plunger system which adds a second level of back-up prevention. About 10 percent of the elevators in the metropolitan area lack this. The equipment grips the elevator suspension ropes to stop the elevator in the event of a mechanical or electrical failure. If there is unintended movement in the up direction or if the elevator leaves the floor unintentionally with the door opened, the dual-plunger system acts as a vital safety device.

Elevators involved are primarily Armor or Westinghouse systems installed in low-rise buildings of six or seven floors from the 1960s and 1970s. Many systems would need replacement, if they haven’t already done so, as the life span for such elevators is normally 25 years. The cost to upgrade the units to comply with this code would be about $15,000 for the new brake and about the same for the rope gripper. However, if the elevator is not electronically equipped to accept the rope gripper, the building could consider a full modernization, rather than a piecemeal approach.

Other provisions in the new codes for elevators include increasing the minimum dimension of the elevator emergency hatch; expanding the number of high-rise residential buildings requiring emergency voice communication systems; setting clear compliance criteria to ensure greater accessibility and usability for those with physical and intellectual/developmental disabilities; and amending the inspection timeframes for elevators to speed up their return to service.

The sweeping legislation also includes new provisions to reduce dangers at construction sites. These include allowing the use of netting, low barriers, and chain link fencing instead of requiring solid fencing that can create “blind tunnels” for pedestrians; creating a new type of license for advanced crane technology to ensure that equipment such as articulating boom cranes and roto-telehandlers are operated safely; and improved consistency for underpinning existing buildings.

The codes also clarify the documentation needed for a new certificate of occupancy and expands the types of allowed sustainable building materials such as cross-laminated timber and structural composite lumber. Also outlined is a slate of safety enhancements designed to protect tenants and emergency responders, such as greater fire department access and amending inspection timeframes for boilers.

Other updates focused on sustainability and resilience to include expansion of flood zone requirements for critical facilities such as fire, rescue and ambulance departments, police stations, and emergency shelters; new mandates for inspections of floodproofing systems; and added support for alternative energy production processes such as hydrogen fuel cells.