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PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN NYC MULTI-FAMILY BUILDING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE

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Questions - General, Miscellaneous

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•frequently asked questions  •ask a question  •questions by category •questions 900-949  •questions 850-899  •questions 800-849  •questions 750-799  •questions 700-749  •questions 650-699  •questions 600-649  •questions 550-599  •questions 500-549  •questions 450-499  •questions 400-449  •questions 350-399  •questions 300-349  •questions 250-299  •questions 200-249  •questions 150-199  •questions 100-149  •questions 50-99  •questions 1-49

 
Question #849: Do I need a GED or high school diploma to start a superintendent training course? Post your answer

Answer: Depends where you attend the courses. A GED will help you and would be of great advantage for you not just for a super's course, but for your life. Some places require it, some dont. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #847: Can a refrigerator emit a foul odor from the compressor or any other mechanical parts. Post your answer

Answer: Yes they can. Some refrigerators have a defrost pan bolted on top of the compressor. The purpose of this pan is to evaporate the melted defrost water (due to the heat of the compressor) from the evaporator and other areas of the refrigerator. If some organic matter, like beef blood finds its way into that pan, phew, it can really stink up. On other models a similar pan can be found on the bottom of the refrigerator near the condenser. Air is blown over the condenser and past the pan so that warm waste air evaporates the defrost water, again a potential area of smell if the water is contaminated with organic matter. William Aristovulos

Question #833: How much heat (in BTUs) is required to change 500 pounds of water at 75°F to steam at 212°F? Post your answer

Answer: If I did the math right, the answer should be 68,500 BTU. Ken Botte

Answer: You were close, however you forgot to add the latent heat of vaporization which is 970.3 per lb. So total BTUs needed: 66,465,550. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: I'm not an engineer, but I think you both are only partially correct. Yes, it takes about 68,500 BTUs to get from 75 to 212 degrees. And, yes it requires about 970 BTUs per pound to get to steam from 212 degree water. So 500 lbs at 212 degrees x 970 = 485,000 plus 68,500 = 553,500 BTUs required to heat 500 lbs of water... but put this in a closed boiler and who knows what will happen... Derek Bupp

Answer: Yup Derek is right. I multiplied 137 x 970 x 500. Good job Derek, and thanks. Peter Grech, GBOC
Question #828: I was wondering how much a landlord can usually charge a billboard company to put a billboard on a building. Is it a monthly flat fee, revenue sharing, or both? Is it a different fee for a traditional vinyl billboard and for a digital billboard? How long is the lease generally? Can a landlord usually break the lease? Post your answer

Answer: There are various arrangements but it's usually a percentage of the revenue. The rates are negotiable. Some of the more desirable locations can obtain a fixed fee per month whether or not the sign is rented. 10 years is typical - 5 years happens but usually not less. The companies that do this have iron-clad leases and teams of lawyers, so very rarely can you get out of the lease. This may encumber your property if you intend to sell. Derek Bupp

Question #823: I own and live in a one bedroom condo of a 350 unit complex in Manhattan. I would like some guidance in holiday tipping for the super, doormen and maintenance personnel. Post your answer

Answer: If you go to our website's search page and put in tips OR tipping or a similar search string, you will get links to lots of pages on this site with information and opinions about tipping. Also see this super's blog for more links to information about this subject.

Question #815: I am wondering what the average salary is for an experienced superintendent? Post your answer

Answer: Without knowing all the facts like size of building, staff size, location and duties, to answer this question is difficult. But a very rough rule of thumb is for buildings with less than 100 apartments, and normal duties the salary range is approximately $45K to $60K. Of course there are always exceptions to this. There are too many variables. I can tell you of a super with 27 apartments, full staff and he earns $70K. Then another super with 500 apartments short staff who earns $72K. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Read  the Frequently Asked Questions section for the answer to a similar previous question.

Question #797: What is the maximum occupancy allowed in a one bedroom apartment? I have a child on the way and may have to break the lease agreement due to limited space. Will I be penalized for breaking the terms of the lease? Post your answer

Answer: To the best of my knowledge, there is no occupancy maximum in New York City. Check your lease, however, because the least may indeed limit the maximum occupants in an apartment. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #795: What is meant by a wet over dry area as pertaining to washing machine hook ups in a residential apartment buildings? Are there any laws or codes regarding this? Post your answer

Answer: Wet over dry: this is a term to describe when a bathroom is installed in one apartment and the apartment directly underneath that area has no bathroom. In most cases, bathrooms are built one over the other. In this case the bathroom (or laundry room) is not over another bathroom below. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #794: I believe my husband is superintendent material. We don't live in the city yet, still in Iowa. I wanted to know where or who he could talk to about specifically the technical aspects, he is welder, pipe fitter, etc. plus has a business degree, so would appreciate to know where we could go. Post your answer

Answer: He could start by becoming a member of a technical association in New York City for supers and other building support workers. I have an idea: why not join STA? Upon membership, he can post his resume online (several members report getting jobs in this way) and he can also post a Situation Wanted ad at any time. He is also welcome to call any of us on the Board and discuss specifics - just pick a friendly face and call. Many of our membership are happy to support other members in whatever way presents itself. Beyond that, he should be perusing the help-wanted ads in the local papers to see what's out there, and possibly calling some of them to see what are their specific requirements.

Question #790: My fiancι and are looking for an apartment. We found one through a realtor that we liked, and set the process in motion. Because the building is all or part co-op, we have to be approved by the co-op board before we can sign a lease. There is a $50 application fee - which we are fine with paying. However, when the real estate agent went to pick up the application papers from the superintendent, he demanded a $500 referral fee. Apparently, he is the one who let the agent know that the apartment was up for rent. We are getting together with the real estate agent tonight to discuss this, but I have really big reservations about paying this $500 for the apartment, especially if it doesn't even guarantee we will get it. Is this fee even legal? Post your answer

Answer: This sounds a bit odd. It sounds to me, since you need to have board approval, that you are renting a unit that has been previously sold to an individual shareholder. If that is the case, then you would not be leasing, but sub-leasing. If you were renting from the sponsor of the co-op, then you usually do not need board approval. While there are certainly variations, oftentimes shareholders in a co-op can only sublease their apartment for two years. Read the lease / sub-lease carefully before signing it.


Answer: Referral fees are really not legal in this case. The super represents the landlord, and NO landlord representative is permitted to collect a fee. To collect a fee, the super would have to have a real-estate broker's or sales associate's license. If the super told the agent, then the agent would need to work it out with the super - NOT YOU, since the agent is making the commission. The agent should pay it by check, then make formal complaints about it. (In the old days it was called "key money"). Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #787: I'm the owner of a 3 family house in Richmond Hill, Queens. The building is neither rent controlled nor stabilized. I occupy the second and third floors and rent out the first. The first floor tenants have been renting their apartment for 5 years, without any kind of lease. When they moved in I provided them with a stove, which they will leave when they finally vacate. My questions: Am I responsible for the repairs of this stove? What if the repairs become too costly, or the stove breaks down completely? Am I required to replace the stove? Post your answer

Answer: Whoever owns the existing stove is probably responsible for repair or replacement of that stove; check your lease for the details. If it isn't specified you may want to try to come to an oral agreement with your tenant.

Question #779: Is there any information I can get on the aptitude test for elevators union so I can study? Post your answer

Answer: Start your search here. And learn to GOOGLE, my friend.

Question #774: The super has instructed doormen in my co-op building to permit process servers to go to residents' apartments unannounced. A Deputy Sheriff serving legal papers was permitted to come to my door unannounced. I believe this violates my co-op tenancy rights. Everyone should be announced. What do you think, and what are the rules in most co-ops? Post your answer

Answer: This issue/question is best asked and answered by your co-op / condo board. In my building as in all my previous buildings, we permit any officer of the court to go up unannounced if so requested by the court officer. Buildings have different rules, ergo my suggestion in asking the board of your building. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Your co-op may have a rule against this - most do - but if the (State or City) law states that you cannot impede an officer of the court in his execution of the law (it does), then of course that supersedes your house rules. Don't fight it, and don't insist that your doorman or super break the law for your selfish aims. Of course, as with all questions of the law on this website, this is just opinion, not even an interpretation of the law. Ask a lawyer for the real scoop. Glen Stoltz

Question #772: I'm a co-op apartment owner, 1 of 8 apartments, in a 4-floor brown stone in Brooklyn. Where can I look up for the subjects regarding to: (1) conflict of interest rules/laws, and (2), any work for building that may or may not require competitive biddings. Post your answer

Answer: These are very good questions, and could be brought up at our Small Building Support Group which will meet on August 8th (if enough people sign up). Conflicts of interest are complex issues; we devote whole seminars to this. When serving on the board, every individual must put private interests aside and act in the best interest of the cooperative. Board members should disclose to their colleagues any relationship they may have with any vendors, etc. that the building uses and should recluse themselves from discussions where they might have (or appear to have) a personal interest.

As for decisions regarding competitive bidding, each cooperative can set its own policy regarding the level at which to require competitive bids, using common sense as a guide.

Mary Ann Rothman
CNYC Executive Director
212 496-7400
250 West 57 Street, Suite 730
New York, NY 10107-0700
Question #771: We've been quoted a contract price of $2.73 per gal for No. 2 fuel oil.  Does anyone know if there is a better price in the market? This price includes maintenance of burners and cleaning of the boilers. Post your answer

Answer:

Question #768: I have a tenant that was trying to connect the gas stove without contacting the gas company. The tenant's boyfriend was trying to start the stove with another three persons around, all of them got burned seriously. Do I need to worry about a law suit? Should I contact my lawyer? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, and contact your insurance company as well. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #760: Building inspectors declared my apartment illegal, how much time do I have to find a place to stay? Also should I be still paying rent to landlord who now states he is selling the house. Post your answer

Answer: I can not answer these questions since they mainly pertain to the law and not codes. My advice is to ask a lawyer. It would seem reasonable that you have at least 30 days to vacate. Moreover, since the apartment was illegal, why pay the rent. Again, a lawyer would answer these questions and perhaps you may have claims to refund of your prior rent to the owner since he was running an illegal operation. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #757: Are there any software packages that can be used to track NYC violations? Post your answer

Answer: HPD does this already. You don't need to. But if you want to, any good database program can do it. When I say that HPD does this already, I mean you can go online and find out what violations your building has, or for any other building. Go to HPD website. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #756: I thought I remember reading somewhere that window air conditioner installations now require a support bracket along the top of the unit so that the window is still operable. I have searched the NYC websites, but could not find verification. Can anyone confirm this? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, there is a law which is tacked on to Local Law 11. It is under Appurtenances only. You will not find it under Air Conditioning. Basically it states that an appurtenance, such as an Air Conditioning unit, that extends 10 inches or more past the window glass, must be supported by a bracket that is secured to the ac unit on one end and rests against the side of the building at the other end. If the unit is less the 10 inches past the glass, it may be installed by using a metal bar across the width of the window and secured to the window frame, but not the window itself. As always, check with your buildings architect about this. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #755: How can I apply to become a super? Post your answer

Answer: The best way to look for superintendent jobs in New York City is in the Sunday New York Times/job market. Also check the listings in this website in the job section and post your resume online*. The other way is to ask around and send resumes to property managers / companies etc. James Zammit

* WEBMASTERS NOTE: In order to post your resume on this site, you must be a current member of STA

Answer: The best way to find a new job is through word of mouth. Ask around, talk it up and keep going back to those who are in a position to know of jobs coming to light (such as other supers). Networking is a part of that. Let other supers and building support workers know that you're in the market, and stay in touch with them as much as possible. Come to STA meetings and let everyone know that you're looking and pass out resumes. Many of us will be happy to be on the lookout for fellow members.

Question #754: Is there a website that gives information about new building openings in Manhattan? Such as management company chosen, building systems installed etc. Post your answer

Answer: As far as I know, there are no websites that collectively keep such data. If you know the builder's website or the owner's website, some details may be contained therein. But your question brings up an interesting idea for our website as an addition. I will look into it. If you are interested in helping on this, let me know, as it would be a lot of work. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #752: How many female supers are there in Manhattan? in NYC? I am in first grade and doing a research project on community workers-I chose supers.  I need the information by June 12, 2006. Thank you. Post your answer

Answer: I have tried to find out the answer to your question and didn't have much luck. Yes, there are Female superintendents. How many and where they are is the question. I believe that there are about 10-20 female superintendents full-time in NYC. There probably are a higher number part-time. Part-time would be where their husbands work all day long at a job other then at the building, and the wife takes care of the building in his absence. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #748: What are the training requirements and the duties for a person hired as a fire watch? Post your answer

Answer: Fire guards are required in order to reduce the threat of fires in a variety of locations. For example, they are required in places of public assembly, hotels, film studios, construction sites, office buildings and marinas. Fire guards are used when a sprinkler system is not installed, e.g., at construction sites. Fire guards are also used when an automatic fire protection system is shut down while being repaired. The fire guards are responsible for making sure that fire safety regulations are obeyed. Fire guards must have a good working knowledge of basic fire fighting and fire protection techniques. They must know the location of all fire protection devices in their areas of responsibility. They must make sure that these devices are in good working conditions at all times. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #746: I was wondering if you could help me with any information or advice on the following issue. My father has been a live-in 2nd super for 13 buildings, 260 units for over 10 years. No Union, very low-wage. The company wants to fire him for no specific reason, claiming “they are thinking of the future”. He is 66 years old. The buildings are rent stabilized and he has older leases with the previous landlord (buildings were sold to his current employer two years ago) which states that rent is waived as long as he is an employee. The new company hasn’t renewed this lease in spite of my father's numerous requests over the past year. I know that landlords are required to provide lease renewal for rent controlled buildings so it probably doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have a current one (?) I suspect the landlord is highly determined to have him vacate the apartment. The question is, given his old lease, will my father be able to legally remain in his apartment and start paying the rent amount stated in the older contract (probably a little higher by now) after he is terminated from the job? Post your answer

Answer: If your father has a proper rent stabilized lease, for his apartment, then the new owner must honor the lease. The law states that the owner must offer a new lease renewal 150 days or so before the lease expires. If you contact the Rent Stabilization Association they can help with what the new rent would be and also help your father settle this, by giving him better advice that I can. The other agency that can help would be HPD. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #744: What are some things I can do as a super to my building to get it ready for weather change? I need a spring/summer maintenance checklist. Post your answer

Answer: This Month, on May 22, 24, 25 check the calendar for dates, times and location, there will be a workshop on auditing a building and Identifying the top 10 items in your building. This would go hand in hand in what you asked for. Click here for more information.  Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Our Association, STA has published a Free, three page pamphlet on Seasonal Maintenance. Email me your email address and I will email it to you. Anyone else interested in it, can also email me. Please put in the subject box Seasonal Maintenance. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #741: What is the generally accepted useful life of the following components of a buildings (in this case 16 stories 110 apartments) heating plant:
  • Fuel Tank
  • Burner
  • Boiler
  • Vacuum Pump
  • Heat Timer

Post your answer

Answer: The state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, DHCR has a schedule of useful life that they use when owners of buildings apply for a major capital improvements (MCI). For fuel tanks: in vaults - 25 yrs underground - 20 yrs. For Burners - 20 years. For boilers; Cast Iron - 35 yrs Steel Boilers - 25 Yrs. As stated below, any numbers are just estimates and greatly depend on the maintenance program being applied. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: A fuel tank (20-40 years) has a wide spread in useful life span, depending on type of fuel, below or above ground, and proper maintenance. It is essential that a tank be properly cleaned every 5-7 years, to remove corrosive sludge and moisture, that tends to build up on the bottom of the tank.  A burner (20-30 years) varies, depending on type of oil and size. Larger burners, more often, tend to be rebuilt or upgraded, rather then total replacement. For instance, blower motors, relay controls, metering pumps, electric heaters, etc. are replaceable parts, that do get replaced on an ongoing basis. Boilers (5-60 years) Your building probably has a steel "Fire Tube" boiler. These, with proper ongoing tube cleaning and replacement, a proper and comprehensive water treatment regime, have been known to last over 60 years.  I have seen some cast iron "sectional" boilers last as little as 5 years due to poor water management and return leaks. (return leaks allow for constant water make up, the fresh water is full of oxygen. The released excess oxygen literally rusts out the cast iron sections) Vacuum pumps, (5-15 years) vacuum pumps have motors, sometimes the motor fails, sometimes the pump fails, and the entire unit is replaced. Proper maintenance of steam traps and strainers are crucial in the long life of a vacuum pump. Heat Timer (10-30 years) The old electromechanical type were work horses, and relatively simple. Other then a motor or contact burning out, they lasted a very long time. The newer electronic type, while offering enhanced versatility and power, have not been around long enough, but if I were a betting man I would put my money on the older type as far as longevity. As an energy saving measure, Heat-Timer units should be re-calibrated by a factory rep every 5 years or so.  It must also be noted, any of the above, often last longer then I indicated, under the management of a devoted and knowledgeable superintendent. Bill Aristovulos

Question #734: I have been working for Related Management for the past year as a concierge in one of their high rise luxury buildings in NY for the past year, I have been told that this company is one of the best in NY, does anyone have anyone have any feedback on them and their policies on in-company promotion? Post your answer

Answer: I have worked with Related Management on weatherization projects for the past four years. I have had good experiences with them. They own most of their buildings, so unlike most management companies, they have a real interest in making them work. You should first talk to the district manager for your building, if there is one. If not, then you might try to contact Hector Pinero, the Director of Housing, and ask him for suggestions. He can be reached at 212-981-3525. Jeff Eichenwald

Answer: The word "best" is a relative word. I would say though, Related Management is a very good company. I do not know about now, but in the past Related had always tried to promote from within the company. I would suggest that you make your intensions known to the Director of Maintenance or whatever title they have now (as things have changed in the past 10 years or so). Best way is to try to set up an appointment to meet with him / her. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #731: I heard the best way to get an apartment in NYC is to contact the supers. Is this true? How does one go about doing so? What steps do I follow afterwards? Post your answer

Answer: No, it's not the best way now, although it used to be. Brokers are the way to go most of the time.

Question #730: What does CFM mean? I can't get an honest answer. Please help me. Post your answer

Answer:  CFM can stand for many things. The two CFM that apply to what we do, that I know of are: CFM when used in moving air. It is Cubic Feet per Minute. Which means the volume of air a fan moves in a minute. The other CFM is Certified Facilities Manager. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: From the technical background I come from, CFM means cubic feet per minute and it is a measure of gas or air flow. Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

Question #728: I would like to sell my 3 family home.  How can I go about legally asking the tenants to move? One apartment has a lease which is almost up and the other has a month-to-month tenant? Post your answer

Answer: If you intend to sell your house, pick your broker. The broker has the answer to your questions. Dick Koral

Question #725: Will there be a strike of 32BJ in April.  What are your thoughts? Post your answer

Answer: It seems that there will be a strike. The sides are far apart at this point and the unions and RAB do not seem to be budging in the negotiations. If I were a betting person I would not bet against it and begin to prepare for a strike. Alice Rossini

Answer: See this blog for yet another view.

Answer: To know the answer to this question would mean to know the future. We will know if there will be a strike one hour after the deadline/contract end. This is how it has always been for over 40 years. No one knows, and if they say they do, most probably they are guessing. The facts as of last week are that both sides very far apart. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: In my own humble opinion, both sides of the table have something to prove. Spurred on by the transit situation, the owners / co-ops feel they can leverage some "givebacks" while the union feels even more galvanized to push harder and further. Again, all this is my own opinion, however my advice to you, if you are a union worker that might go on strike, put some spare cash aside NOW. A long strike unfortunately will be felt in the workers pockets a bit more profoundly, whereas the owners/co-ops regrettably tend to have deeper pockets. Bill Aristovulos

Question #724: How can I get information on a building managing company? I am interviewing for a position with Hoffman Management and would like to know a little more about the company and some of their buildings and cannot find any information by searching the web. Does anyone have any info? Post your answer

Answer: Hoffman is a small to midsize management company. They have been around for over 25 years. I have heard NO bad news about them, therefore I think they are a good company. I met Mr. Hoffman about 18 yrs ago, and from what I remember he was a good manager. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #717: It is my opinion as an active board member for 6 years that management companies are not as professional or competent as they claim to be. Would you agree with that assessment? In my opinion, they are hired to manage all aspects of a property including the physical (building maintenance / operation), the financial (maintenance collection, arrearages, financial reporting), the personal (resident issue resolution, transfers, moves, renovations, and administrative functions. This is what they are paid for. However, it is my experience that the management companies of our property have NEVER done all these things well.  In fact sometimes they did not do these things at all. What is the issue in this industry? Post your answer

Answer: Not ALL management companies are as incompetent as yours. Ask other buildings about their experiences with specific companies. Eventually, you will find a good one. Dick Koral

Answer: It has been my observation for a co-op to function successfully, a trilogy must be formed. This said trilogy should be comprised of three separate and equally important segments or divisions.  The first should be the Co-Op board, and with this I mean the ENTIRE Co-Op board, not just the president or some strong arming single member. The second should be the Management company. And last, but not least, the Superintendent. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE, THAT ALL THREE SEGMENTS HAVE SHOULD HAVE EQUAL INVOLVEMENT. All too often, this three-way balance is not maintained, and Co-Ops fall apart. In short, think of a Co-Op as a ship. The board indicates the port they wish to go to, the management lays out the itinerary, and the super steers the ship to the port of call. All to often the "board" involves itself as to what should be on the menu in the dinning hall (Management's job) or will loom over the "Superintendent" and ask "are you SURE you are steering this "ship" in the right way". Yes, the managing company or the superintendent have their flaws also. But it must be said, that of the three, clearly the management company and the superintendent have the most experience in running buildings. This is fair, since most voluntary Co-Op board members may have great experience in other fields, but tend to have little experience in the running of a building. Yet many Co-Op boards micro-manage or even meddle in the day to day building operations, clearly a Management company and Superintendent areas of the trilogy.

My question to you is, honestly, did your Co-Op board give your various management companies the ability to function, or did your Co-Op board micro-mange or downright meddle in the day to day running of the building, thereby crippling the management company's ability to function properly. Bill Aristovulos

Answer: The above answers are from experience. I have worked with good and bad management companies, as I have with good and bad boards. Whenever I hear a critique from a resident, I always recommend that they become a board member and make changes. Barry

Question #711: What is BUR? Post your answer

Answer: BUR, in the roofing industry, stands for Built Up Roofing, which is a basically a technique of using different layers of overlapping and overlaid materials to create a waterproof roofing system. The materials and techniques used vary. Bill Aristovulos

Question #708: Sprinkler systems can have a water motor gong, an electric bell, a horn or siren utilized as an alerting device. Legally, which of these devices are for use in an approved installation? Post your answer

Answer: ALL three that you mentioned are fine. If you have an existing device, you can change to a different one, e.g., mechanical gong to a electric horn, but you must have the licensed plumber file the job and wait for approval. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #705: Is there anyone that can help out with the dos and don'ts of writing a resume. My understanding is that the standard is a one-page resume. I'm sure I speak for many superintendents when I say that it is almost impossible to submit all of my qualifications and experience on one page. Any referrals would be greatly appreciated. Post your answer

Answer: Too bad you missed our January meeting, it was 3 hours on resumes and interviewing. Get a good book; try Resumes For Dummies by Joyce Kennedy. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #702: Can you recommend a source of tenant-friendly, property line, trash and recyclables bins suitable for a Manhattan multiple dwelling? Post your answer

Answer: Several of our distinguished vendor members should carry a complete line of suitable containers. Borut Supply and Kew Forrest Maintenance Supply, can both be found in our wildly popular monthly newsletter, SUPER!  Also your building's janitorial supply vendor should carry a line of products. Ask your superintendent for the vendors name. Lastly "Google it!"  Recycling Containers, and you should find lots of vendors. Bill Aristovulos

Answer: Try Every Supply Company, Inc. When you call ask for Nick or Dino. Glen

Question #699:  Who is the Senator that represents Manhattan and who are the persons representing the New York's House of Representatives, New York's Assembly and New York City's Council. Post your answer

Answer: There are many websites that will help you find your elected representatives anywhere you are. Here is one of them: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ Glen Stoltz

Question #697: I live in a Bronx five-floor apartment building. I want to place a 75-gallon fish tank adjacent to what I believe is a load-bearing wall. Every apartment above me has the same floor plan. Is it safe to assume that all the interior walls are load-bearing? Post your answer

Answer: No. You can not assume that a wall is bearing or non-bearing from one floor to the next. The bearing wall or non-bearing wall has nothing to do with where you place the fish tank, as long as you don't plan to put it "in the wall". Check your lease first though, some leases do not allow fish tanks. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #694: I live in upstate NY, in a building with 4 apartments, and I have no lease. The tenants that live above me play their stereo loud, stomp, bang, slam, and whatever else they do, all hours of the day and night. When we have knocked on their door to ask for them to lower things they disrespect us with foul, abusive language; we have called the police, and now they have retaliated by destroying our personal property. And we have called the police in regards to that. If forced to move because of these conditions and the owner / landlord is aware of the situation, can the landlord be responsible for the cost of our move? Post your answer

Answer: The applicable laws may be slightly different in upstate New York than in New York City, which is our primary knowledge and reader base. Consult a real estate lawyer AND read the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law for more info, but if you have no lease you may have far fewer rights than a renter with a lease.

Question #693: Will we use less oil to operate our boiler if residents close off radiators that are not needed? Post your answer

Answer: Anytime you use less heat in a building you will use less fuel. Be careful, however - IF you have a one pipe steam system you sometimes get water hammer (banging) if you shut a radiator off.  Joe Lambert, http://www.leonardpowers.com

Question #690: In an 8 floor concrete slab construction building with plaster and lathe walls and 10 apartments on each floor, what is the best way to combat a recent MOUSE infestation? Post your answer

Answer: The best defense is: Plugging all the holes you can find!  Pay particular attention to heat risers in the apartments. Also check, in kitchens and baths, around utility lines (Water, Gas and Electric ) where they emerge from the wall. Mice posses what seems to be an articulated skeletal design, that allows them squeeze through openings of only 1/2 inch high!  Poisons are also a way to deal with mice, however I strongly suggest using a professional company. (One of our vendor members in STA, are professional exterminators. You can scan for their ad in our newsletter, SUPER!) Bill Aristovulos

Question #686: I'm interested in taking the HVAC training and am considering either taking it at New York City Tech or at the Mechanics Institute. Would I get just as much training and information from a free course like the one at Mechanics Institute or would I get more out of a paid one like at New York City Tech? Post your answer

Answer: While both schools you mentioned are excellent schools, Mechanics Institute, although free, has a more intense program. Free here does not mean cheap or low quality. The difference "MAY" be that at City Tech you will earn a degree and have transferable credits, while at the Mechanics Institute you will not earn a degree. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #685: A friend of mine hired an electrician to do some kitchen work in her Bay Ridge condo.  He charged her $1000 for the job.  A week later, when the electricity was still not working correctly, he told her to fix the job would cost her another $1400. Obviously, she wants nothing more to do with him. My question is: do you know of an electrician who is reliable and reasonable who does work in Bay Ridge?  Whatever leads you can provide will be much appreciated.  Post your answer

Answer: We are not in the habit of recommending contractors to our readers. Obviously, we hope that those contractors who advertise with us (see our monthly newsletter) are of the kind that you can trust to treat their customers well and do a good job, but we do not endorse them further than that unless we have extensive experience with them personally. Glen Stoltz

Question #679: I recently moved into a luxury apartment building where the heat and air conditioning is housed in a vent unit. I know that in New York City the landlord is responsible for heat in rentals. When I turn on my heat, I am charged by the electric company. My landlord states that I am responsible for the "blowers" to blow the heat. Is this legal? Post your answer

Answer: He is right. He is supplying the heat to a coil. The coil comes with a blower that is connected you your electricity. Keep in mind this blower is of low amperage and is quite efficient. It should not cost more then a few pennies a day to operate with moderation. Most newer buildings have this feature. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #677: I am a tenant at a apartment complex. I and my husband and son are getting sick all the time, and we think there's mold or mildew growing in the AC unit, Is there any advice on what we should do? Post your answer

Answer:  You should have an air conditioning repair company look at your unit(s). In most cases they are dirty and this can be remedied by having the units thoroughly cleaned using chemicals that would neutralize any foreign matter. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #674: I am renovating a cooperative apartment bathroom and my contractor the bathtub water knobs (controls) which required going into the war and change the connection to the pipe.  The co-op management is now saying since I touched the pipe, I will be responsible till eternity if something goes wrong with all the apartments on my line. Can they legally do this?  The existing pipes are 60 years old as it is and  I can't imagine I can be legally bound by this. I can never sell the apartment if this is the case. Post your answer

Answer: First of all, any legal questions should be asked to an attorney and answered by an attorney. We can only give you our opinions based on experienced and not law. That said, The pipes inside the wall from a riser to a shut of valve are owned by the building. Once an owner in an apartment touches these pipes with his own contractor the ownership of the pipes are automatically transferred from the building to the apartment / shareholder. This is called "betterment and improvement". What you should have done was called the super and have the building's plumber repair or replace the pipes to the valve, including the valve. Keep in mind that in most cases the shut-off valve does belong to the apartment. Now all the pipes do. I hope this helps. You should get an attorney to clarify this. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #672: I reside in a  ---- story co-op with approximately ---- apartments in Yonkers. I recently wrote the Co-op Board a letter inquiring about some questions I had. They have not responded to me - their reason being they don't feel like answering my questions. Isn't the board supposed to answer any questions the owners have as long as they are not personal or incriminating? Post your answer

Answer: NO, a board does not have to answer your question, or provide a reason. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer:  In my humble opinion, it probably behooves the co-op to try to answer your questions, but keep in mind that most co-op board positions are voluntary. They might not have the time or simply don't know the answer to your questions. Being a board member does not mean that you are an expert in building matters. More often, it is the Superintendent or even the managing company that is the most knowledgeable in the running of a building and associated issues. Bill Aristovulos

Question #668: I have a fire escape in my living room that is accessible via two side-by-side windows.  Can I have an air conditioner in ONE of the windows?  I've had one in for five years, now all of a sudden my landlord is claiming that I need to take it out.  NOTE:  It's permanently installed. Post your answer

Answer: Under normal circumstances you are permitted to place an a/c unit in a situation such as yours, PROVIDED that the ac unit does not interfere with the egress of the fire escape, i.e., it sticks out on to the fire escape causing a potential tripping or other hazard. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #667: I am thinking of renting my apartment. The circuit box and the oil burner is on their floor. Am I as a landlord allowed to enter their apartment if the lights go out or the oil burner goes off and they are not home? Post your answer

Answer: The answer to this is very simple. You make it a clause in the lease that you are permitted with little notice to enter the apartment to reset the circuit breakers and or to have boiler / boiler control work done. Also that you should have copies of the keys. NOTE: Normal leases give a landlord the right to enter an apartment upon 24 hour notice, unless its an emergency. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: I believe that the landlord is entitled to gain access to any apartment at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner for inspections or repairs. But the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours written notice for an inspection and at least one week's written notice for improvements or repairs. In an emergency situation, however, no advance notice is required. Glen Stoltz

Question #664: A building resident is looking to combine apartments that are one on top of another in a concrete slab construction building.  What kind of professional needs to be consulted in order to determine where they can structurally put the stairwell between the two units that will be needed? Post your answer

Answer: I'd guess that you'd need an architect at a minimum, who can then hire a structural engineer and / or whoever else is needed. Glen Stoltz

Answer:  Correct on the above, especially the structural person, and in addition to all that, one has to have the blessing of the co-op.  There is a possibility that the resident's work would affect the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy ) of the building.  This apparently could create some weighty issues for the co-op with the tax/usage municipal departments of the city.  Bill Aristovulos

Question #663: Is having a rug or carpet in a building elevator a fire hazard? Post your answer

Answer: No it is not a fire hazard. Make sure the carpet has a fire rating of at least 2.5 hrs or more. Be warned, though carpets that are laid down in elevators get worn fast. In the long run its less costly to have a hard floor installed. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: No its not. In some buildings they put the carpet in elevators when its raining. In other elevator cars both passenger and service have permanent carpet installed. James Zammit

Answer: If you utilize temporary "Drop In" carpets during inclement weather, moves, etc, be sure your carpeting has a tapered leading edge along the door opening of the cab.  Otherwise be prepared for a trip hazard. Bill Aristovulos

Question #659: Can the treasurer and a few share holders from an 8 unit cooperative apartment building increase the maintenance cost in a meeting? Can a few shareholders from an 8-unit cooperative increase the late fees if we do not pay by the first of the month? Aren't we supposed to have at least 5 days grace period before they impose late fees? And how much is the maximum late fee?  They increased it from 20 to 50 dollars monthly late fees. Post your answer

Answer: I think it all depends on what your condo or co-op bylaws provide for. Get a copy of the bylaws and probably your questions will all be answered. Also, if you don't like what the board does, attend the meetings, get on the board and exert your influence for change. I know it's not quite that simple or easy but at some point if you complain you must be willing to get involved. Hopefully you are. Glen Stoltz

Question #657: How do I join union 32BJ? Post your answer

Answer: If you are working in a 32BJ union building, you have to work 3 months on a full time basis. Then go to the union building (101 Avenue of Americas) with a pay slip from your weekly check and pay union dues. You also have to speak with your super and he will contact the management. This is the website for the 32BJ union members www.seiu32bj.org or call 800-551-3225 or 212-388-3500. James Zammit

Question #656: I'm working at a 20 floor building, how do I go about cleaning a garbage chute? Post your answer

Answer: There are companies that can be hired to come in to clean and sanitize the chutes. One such company is a member of STA (Superintendents Technical Association) and I have used their services and was very pleased with the results. IES 718 824 6591. Ask for a free estimate. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: The best thing to do is purchase a product called EcoCatalyst, made and  sold by Bio-organic, Inc. (www.bio-organic.com). Follow directions on the container for the appropriate mix with water, and spray it onto the inside of the chute  every floor or two, sufficiently that it runs down the chute walls  slightly. This will help break up any solids adhering to the sides of the chute, get rid of odors and keep it clean. About once a month or a  bit less is enough. Glen Stoltz

Question #654: I live in a 700 square foot co-op. It has two tiny bedrooms, one bathroom and a tiny kitchen that's probably more appropriate for a studio. I recently found out that someone else lives in the co-op that has a 1200 square foot apartment, two large bedrooms two bathrooms and an eat-in kitchen. I was shocked to find out that we pay the same maintenance charges.  Is this legal? I feel I have been cheated from my co-op? Are there any laws that divide the maintenance of a co-op in some equitable fashion? Post your answer

Answer: A typical co-op bases the maintenance fees on the total shares belonging to the apartment.  The shares a unit has assigned to it is based not only on size of the unit, but also how high it is in the building, desirable views and probably some other factors. It is conceivable that a larger apartment could pay the same maintenance as a smaller "more desirable apartment" based on the above factors. I also believe this share allocation has to be approved by the Attorney General of New York.  Bill Aristovulos

Question #649: Is it permissible to use Christmas lights in the lobby of a commercial building? Post your answer

Answer: Codes only require that buildings, residential as well as commercial use No combustible materials. No live (fresh) xmas trees, unless it is with roots in a pot. Lights are ok. Keep in mind, what is and what is not in good taste. Don't overdo it, otherwise is looks tacky. Finally you should get the management's ok on decorations. Happy Holidays to all. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #640: Can somebody describe what is the job of a commercial or residential high-rise building engineer, and what licenses he/she must have to apply for that job? Or any schools, etc? Post your answer

Answer: The term engineer in a residential or commercial building applies to a technician who is proficient in HVAC. His/her main duties are to operate and maintain the HVAC system. The a/c system would usually be compressor type of 100 tons or more; so a A/C license would be required. IF the building has high pressure steam, then an additional High Pressure license would be required. On off-seasons or down time, the technician / engineer would have additional duties of a handyman in certain situations. In some buildings, both engineers and regular staff are employed. It is not uncommon to have the engineering staff headed by a chief engineer separate to the building super and his staff. Some times the super is the chief engineer, sometimes two different unions exist in the same building, one for the engineers, local 94 and one for the regular staff, local 32BJ Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #638: Our housing cooperative is interested in locating an interim General Manager while we conduct a permanent search, can you help us identify someone or some agency that provides such services? Post your answer

Answer: If you are located in Manhattan, email me at pgrech4214@aol.com, I may be able to help you. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer: Ask managers of buildings in your area if they are willing to moonlight your building. The "loaning" co-op should get some compensation for the deal. Dick Koral

Question #636: The fire inspector discovered a broken latch that holds the fire escape ladder, its has the whole but I need to locate the part. Where do I go to get one? Post your answer

Answer:

Question #632: Where can I obtain a list of building management companies in Manhattan, with information like address, fax number, telephone? Post your answer

Answer: I have such a list but I would only share it with members of STA. Sorry, but membership does have its privileges. If you are a member email me directly but state your full name so we can check your membership status. Otherwise, try the Yellow Pages. Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #628: I am currently trying to track down a super for a building in the city but am having no luck. Toward this end, is there any help or direction you can provide me with? Post your answer

Answer: You can find information on almost anyone online nowadays. The more basic information you already have on a person - full name, former address, SS number, whatever you already have - the easier it will be. Be prepared to pay for some information if you're really serious about finding somebody. Beware of free info, you get what you pay for, in this as in anything else. We don't have a database of all the supers, if that's what you're asking. Even if we did we couldn't share it. Glen Stoltz


Question #617: Recently I was poo-poo'd for suggesting we take some conservation measures to conserve fuel. There are many articles that list measures a building can take that have paybacks of 1 year, 2 years, etc. in terms of cost/money saving ratios. What is a very scientific / official / impressive article I could bring to our management and Board that discusses the best bang-for-the-buck conservation measures?  I'd also like something that scientifically might show that having the building fix apartment leaks can make a big difference. Post your answer

Answer: You might consider a free energy audit from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research Authority). If you contact them they will tell you if you qualify for a free audit by an approved but independent engineer. Peter Grech, GBOC


Question #616: I need to know of a way to measure and compare oil and gas consumption so I can determine which would be cheaper to burn in my building. I was told there is a way to convert the gas therms so they can be compared with gallons. Any ideas? Post your answer

Answer: This page may be at least a starting point for you.

Answer: Go here: http://www.eia.doe.gov/neic/experts/heatcalc.xls.

Answer: To determine the most cost-effective fuel at any given time, do the following:
1 - Check a natural gas bill to determine the cost per therm of natural gas.
 
2 - Multiply the above figure by 10. Example .75 therm x 10 = $7.50. This is the cost of a dekatherm of gas.
 
3 - If #2 oil is used, multiply today's price $1.1530 x 7.067 = $8.15. This is the equivalent cost of a dekatherm of gas.
 
4 - If #6 oil is used, multiply today's price .9819 x 6.689 = $6.57. This is the equivalent cost of a dekatherm of gas.
 
5 - Another way of calculating this would be:
This is approximately 40% more BTU's in a gallon of #2 oil than in a therm of natural gas. Take price per therm and multiply by 1.4 to get equivalent cost of a gallon of #2 oil. (In example above, .75 therm x 1.4 = $1.05 gal.
 
6 - There is approximately 46% more BTU's in a gallon of #6 oil than in a therm of natural gas. Take therm price and multiply by 1.46 to get equivalent cost of a gallon of #6 oil. (In example above .75 per therm x $1.46 = $1.10 gal.
Note that you may use either system 2, 3, and 4, or 5 and 6. You don't have to use both. For the above examples, a Dual Fuel System using natural gas or #2 oil would save by using natural gas. However, a Dual Fuel System using natural gas or #6 oil would save by using #6 oil. Prices should probably be checked weekly to determine the best price.
Question #588: Our landlord is having a man who is not a licensed plumber to do the repairs on our hot, cold and mixing valves on our shower. This strikes me as a very bad idea. Are there any regulations regarding who a landlord can have do repairs? Post your answer

Answer: This question has been asked and answered before (see Categorized Questions page for the appropriate category, or do a Google website search). Most plumbing jobs inside the walls require a licensed plumber as per NYC building (plumbing) codes. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #586: I know somebody that wants to sell me their 2 apartment units in a building, but they are both rent controlled/stabilized. My intentions were to move my families in them. Is there any way these tenants can be evicted? What if I convert the unit into a co-op, would I have the right to do that and evict them or are they stuck there forever, as someone has already told me? Post your answer

Answer: This is a question for a housing lawyer. John G.


Question #584: I am having a baby in a few months and live in an older apartment building in Brooklyn. I am wondering how I check the lead levels in the apartment from paint and such. Post your answer

Answer: You can buy a test kit from a good hardware store. Or you can spend money and have a environmental company come in and do the testing. First choice is much cheaper. John


Question #583: Does anyone know of a rubbish removal service that will take out large items such as non-functional (disconnected) water heaters and old cast-iron radiators? Post your answer

Answer: Yes I do know of someone who would remove those items. Email me at pikcstick@yahoo.com.


Question #582: I am interested in attending Supers Association meetings in the Bronx, Manhattan or Brooklyn. Do these groups have regular meetings in the summer? Post your answer

Answer: Yes, meetings continue all summer long. Check out the latest Newsletter on the website for dates, or see the Calendar page. John


Question #581: What is the best way to find people who purchase #4 oil and #6 oil? Are supers usually the decision makers when purchasing heating oil? Post your answer

Answer: No, supers do not usually choose the vendor. They only make the orders. Look up management companies, or go to IREM and NYARM which are associations for property managers. John


Question #580: I want to become a super and have no experience. Where do I start and what qualifications do I need? Post your answer

Answer: See the answer to Question #464 and all the other pertinent answers to questions on the categorized questions Supers & Management page.


Question #576: My bedroom has only one window and it exits to a fire escape. I have tried to air condition the room from an air conditioner unit in the living room, but it is not effective (too far away and the a/c unit is too small). Can I still install the window AC unit in my bedroom window as long as it is not bolted down (I don't have any children)? If not, what would you recommend to air condition my bedroom other than those expensive portable AC's or evaporative coolers? Post your answer

Answer: Try a good ceiling fan. A ceiling fan would help draw some of the air conditioning from the living room. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #570: Does workers comp cover an employee working after hours for a resident of the condo association? Post your answer

Answer: NO. Workers comp only covers workers for work done at or on the job. If worker went to the hardware store for building issues and got injured /she is covered but working in apartments after or before work hours or on his/her day off is NOT covered by workers comp and so a lawsuit may have merits. Note: if the apartment owner has workers comp insurance for work done in the apartment, then the worker would be covered under that insurance. PGrech, gboc.net

Answer: If the owner has a homeowners insurance policy in New York it will include workers comp.


Question #563: I have an odd question to ask, but I'm not sure where to start. I just moved into a building, and the super is often drunk and expresses rather aggressive ideas about and to those who bother him. I recorded some tonight. These words are quite frightening for someone who just received a mortgage for a co-op AND lives next door to the super. So - my question - where do I begin to lodge a complaint - with the managing agent? Post your answer

Answer: Yes the managing agent would be the logical place to start. Try to get a sense of how much he knows about the problem - there must have been previous complaints about this person. Quite possibly there is fear of retribution (lawsuit, etc.) on the part of the manager and the owners & board alike. Intimidation can do funny things. It's probably a very delicate situation for all, and it may be that hard evidence was scant or nonexistent - now you may have it IF it can be used. Tread carefully, but if you're sure this is a bad guy for the building, don't let intimidation of any kind stop you. If you need an outside consultant to help, try gboc.net. Glen Stoltz


Question #552: I am currently engaged in replacing the first flight of stairs (wood) in my building with metal. We have already made our contractor selection and have plans prepared by an architect and approved by DOB. What I am uncertain of is what documents I should require from the contractor to insure competence, qualification and of course liability. Budget is very tight. Appreciate all responses. If dialogue is preferred: 212-222-9760. Thanks in advance. Post your answer

Answer: The architect's role is to make the plans, and to screen the contractors. The architect is not the only person who can qualify and check references. Money is tight. Can you risk not paying a fee for the architect to do this? As for liability: the contractor must have the necessary insurance to do the work, Workers comp and liability insurance. Don't forget the warranty. Lastly, see if the Better Business Bureau can help you with information on your contractor. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #550: I'm a superintendent in a newly constructed building in Manhattan. The building has 120 units. Tenants are asking me to install their air conditioners for them. Is this my responsibility? There is enough work around the building to keep me busy other than this kind of work. Can I call on a law or similar? Post your answer

Answer: I don't think there's a law on this, but if you're in the union you can ask if there is a union rule on it. If not a union member, it depends on whether or not it's in your written job description, if you have one. If you don't have a written job description then it's no doubt completely up for negotiation. Without knowing more details, it sounds like it would be beyond your daily responsibilities, and one that either the tenants themselves or your management company should pay you extra for.

Answer: Is the air conditioner a window unit; I would not let one of my staff members install an air conditioner in the apartment window. If that unit ever fell out of the window and hurt someone, or worse killed them, the building would be responsible. If it's a sleeve unit, all that's required is the old one be pulled out and the new one pushed in. Mike Mac

Answer: Installing AC units IS NOT normally the job of the superintendent. If you do install them because you are told it is, or because you want to make money doing it, you must follow LL.11/98. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #546: Do tall buildings sway with the wind? If so why and how? Post your answer

Answer: Tall buildings DO NOT sway back and forth with the wind. This has always been a misleading description of what occurs. More accurately, what does happen is the building will vibrate with the wind, causing some movement. This movement is so small that it is measured in fractions of an inch. The tallest buildings in the heaviest winds would vibrate 1/2 inch each way for a total of one inch. Most occupants will never feel the vibrations - some who are very sensitive will. Many people confuse the movement due to vibrations with what is known as bending or leaning in buildings, which is caused mainly by changes in temperature and not winds. The vibrations cause by temperature changes can exceed one inch. Example of this is when the sun shines on one side of the building. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #544: I was recently directed to a very good apartment through the building's super. How much money should I give him for his help? Post your answer

Answer: I am glad you are thinking of rewarding the person who gave you the tip on the apartment. I can not make any recommendations on what to give him for ethical reasons. One way to do it: see how much you are saving, then figure out a small percentage to give him.  PGrech, gboc.net


Question #534: Are uniforms provided standard with a super's job. Post your answer

Answer: Uniforms are supplied by the employer if the job is union. If it is not union, then the super and staff have to negotiate for uniforms. Remember, if you must buy uniforms for work because they are required by the job, then you can deduct that expense on your taxes, but as always, consult your tax preparer first. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #531: My NYC rental apartment is up for lease renewal. My room for the past year has been filled with a disgusting smoky-cigarette smell from my neighbors (fumes traveling through the wall). My rent was raised $150 for next year and it would be a burden financially and physically for me to move to another building. What are my legal remedies with the landlord, if any? No rent increase? Allow accommodations to move to another apartment in the building? Post your answer

Answer: This is not the forum for a landlord/tenant legal question. You should probably consult a lawyer with experience in this field, and you might try asking your question at tenant.net.

Answer: Your lease should give you a warranty of habitability. Talk to your landlord and/or super and see what can be done. If you have kitchen or bathroom vents instead of windows, most likely the smell is coming from there. The vent fan needs to be checked. If no vent, then the smell could be coming from the baseboards. The baseboard and not the wall is the weakest link in the wall. Try sealing off all the baseboards top and bottom of the molding. Check for holes in walls in the kitchen and bathroom where the plumbing comes through the wall. Seal them off too. Note: only the walls next to the apartment of the smoker need to be done. So first find out who is the smoker.


Question #526: Can anyone advise of a school offering an EPA Air Pollution course, along with phone number and/or email address? Post your answer

Answer: The two places that I know of are: if you are a member of Local 32BJ, you can take their course, call 212-388-3500 for member benefits, and NYC College of Technology, call 718-552-1190 for more info. Tell them the Supers Technical Association referred you. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #519:  I live in an apartment building with four other apartments. I just found out that the hallway lights are hooked to my electric. Am I responsible for this extra bill or is the landlord supposed to take care of this?  Post your answer

Answer: Not only are you not responsible for electric consumption outside your apartment but the connection is illegal. Look up and call the NYS Public Service Commission's consumer complaint line (there's an office in NYC) and it will be taken care of. You are due a fat refund! Dick Koral

Answer: This is a common situation in buildings where there are 10 apartments or less. I'm not saying it's legal or illegal, just that it's common. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #518: I have a family of five with three children under the age of 4. We live in a rented 2 bedroom apartment. We have had an ongoing mice problem since Christmas of 2004. The landlord says we have a lot of clutter. He has sent people to come by and plug up some holes in the walls a few times but we still have mice. What course of action can I now take to get rid of these mice and protect my young family? Post your answer

Answer: Mice are attracted to FOOD. Remove the food and the mice will move on. Clutter only gives the mice refuge and encourages them to live in your apartment. Remove the food, remove the refuge and the mice will move on. Once you have done this and the mice still won't move, send the landlord a written letter advising him of his obligation. In addition to the above, you may want to bring in your own exterminator after advising the landlord that you are going to do it. If you do this, you may be able to collect the money spent from the landlord. May I suggest using one of our vendor members (See the March 2005 newsletter). PGrech, gboc.net


Question #517:  I want to replace the bin on the sidewalk where we store bags of garbage and recycling until it is time to put it out for pickup. I need to know where to find fabricators of such bins. Post your answer

Answer: There are several options you should consider: Rubbermaid horizontal sheds (#3747-01) would be the best solution, unfortunately they were discontinued and cannot be purchased anymore from rubbermaid.com. Our customers on the other hand, do have access to our leftover inventory for the Item# 3747-01 (54 pcs to date). This is an item in the range of $250 - $270. Other solution depending on the actual site and desired look is the metal dumpster. A metal dumpster can be found in several sizes (standard sizes go from 1 yd and up, metal or plastic lids, casters or not). This option would allow you to discard existing pails. Also visit www.rubbermaidcommercial.com and search for "cube trucks". These come from ½ yd and up. Lids can be purchased as well. Dino Leva, 914-667-7713 Every Supply Company, Inc.

Answer: You can also have one or more made of wood. Wood can be quite durable, painted and easily maintained. Ask your super if he could build them for you for extra pay. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #515: To become a member of the Supers Association, do I have to be a superintendent? Is my membership tax deductible? Post your answer

Answer: Our mission statement, in brief, is to provide education to all those persons who work in multifamily buildings. So not only supers can join but also handyman, porters and doormen. We also have board members, managing agents and not-for-profits that are members of STA. We also have vendor members that provide excellent service to our membership and others. STA is a IRS approved not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. So donations and grants are tax deductible. Your membership is also tax deductible. But check with your tax man anyway. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #513: In regards to earlier question #352: It was mentioned in the answer that a law was changed sometime ago that no longer made it possible to charge onto a super's W2 form his or her rent value. I, like many supers this time of year, would like to know more about this law change. Where can it be found? Post your answer

Answer: That rule was passed over 20 years ago. Note rule - not law. A good accountant would be able to give you details. If you are a union member, talk to your union delegate. They should know too. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #512: Our resident manager is leaving our co-op to go into business for himself and is taking all the tools in his workshop with him. Will the next super, that our management company hired, be expected to have his own tools or should we provide them? Post your answer

Answer: Most Superintendents / Resident Managers have their own tools, but it's not a union requirement. It usually is a good idea for the building to have the basic tools for the staff. These tools should be engraved with the building address and inventoried. Upon hiring your new resident manager, make sure he supplies a list of tools that he owns, and keep the list current by adding to that list when he purchase new tools for himself with his own money. This list should be kept with the Property agent so should the new super leave, the building would know which tools belong to whom. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #504: As a retired union member who worked in Manhattan I would like to know a phone number to call to find out if there's any money coming to me.  Post your answer

Answer: The union's website is here. The member service call-in center numbers are 800-551-3225 or 212-388-3500.

Answer: You can also go to the Union headquarters, first floor members assistance, located in the main union building at 101 Ave of the Americas (just north of Canal Street). They are open during normal business hours and this is one of the newest and best features of our Local 32BJ. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #500: What are the basic responsibilities of a live-in building super in New York City? Post your answer

Answer: Please read the applicable FAQs on this website.


Question #499: I have been a Super in NYC for 8 years and I recently bought a house in PA. If I change my drivers license to PA would I have any trouble with my job or any future supers job that I apply for? Post your answer

Answer: I have my PA address on my check, it's my primary residence. When you are a superintendent, you don't pay rent and it's not your residence, its part of your job. I have never had a problem getting a position because of this. MikeMac


Question #497: Looking for input into how to get a small family-run maintenance company new jobs in the city. Looking to maintain multi-unit residential buildings, etc. Post your answer

Answer:


Question #489: How do I go about obtaining my black seal license in boiling? Post your answer

Answer: Black Seals are certifications in New Jersey where it is called Fireman's Black Seal. You would need to go to a community college in New Jersey. The two other seals offered in New Jersey are Engineer's Blue Seal and Engineer's Red Seal, black is the lowest, red is the highest. They are not city examinations but State examinations. Call Passaic County Tech Institute at 973 389 4101. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #480: I want to know about my boyfriend's profession and I want to help him feel better about being a super. He thinks New York is better than New Jersey jobs. I want to know why. Post your answer

Answer: Come to our monthly meetings and bring your boyfriend with you. The pizza alone is worth the trip. New York jobs probably pay more for comparable work, but the residents just may be more demanding also.


Question #476: There's construction behind my home, they are using a vibrating compactor that rattles my home through the day. Is there a law against the use of that type of compactor in Florida? It is only about 50 feet from my home all day long. Post your answer

Answer: You need to contact building/construction authorities in your municipality. We're based in New York City - laws on this type of thing vary greatly from municipality to municipality.

Answer: Also see the answer to Question #373.


Question #465: Wanted to thank the people at STA for help in answering my questions. I would like to make a contribution to your cause, as I believe it's a good one. To whom and how do I make the contribution as a thank you? Post your answer

Answer: Thank you and you can send a check, payable to Supers Technical Assn, and mailed to Supers Technical Association, 300 Jay St - H4, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Dick Koral, Secretary-Treasurer

Answer: Thank you so much. As a not-for-profit organization we depend on donations and membership. Without your help we would not be able to have this website. Peter Grech, President STA


Question #460: I live with my boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. He no longer wants to continue the relationship. Is he legally obligated to pay rent since his name is on the lease? I'm not choosing to leave. Post your answer

Answer: The fact almost certainly is that as long as his name is still on the lease he is legally obligated to pay rent, whether or not he is living in the apartment, and to be relieved of that obligation he must have his name formally removed from the lease.

Answer: Whatever the legalities, what is fair is that you assume the obligation of paying the rent. Buck this, and spend twice that in legal fees. Dick Koral

Answer: As always, our answers are just our opinions and answers to legal questions are better asked of attorneys. Yes he is responsible for the lease. If he vacates the apartment however, and surrenders his keys to management, that leaves you as illegally occupying the apartment - if your name is not on the lease. It seems you want a free ride off you ex-boyfriend's back. SHAME ON YOU. Why don't you just take over the lease or get another roommate to help you with the rent. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #453: In my apartment building with over 35 apartments, the super's name and apartment number is clearly posted in the lobby. A building directory listing all the current tenants is mandatory, too. Is it mandatory to post the telephone number of the superintendent too? Can a summons be issued by an inspector if no telephone number appears? Post your answer

Answer: The Housing Maintenance Code, Article 3, section 27-2053-C states that the phone number, address and apartment number of the person responsible for "janitorial services" must be shown in the lobby of the building. A violation can be issued against the owner of the building for failing to provide the phone number of the superintendent along with the address and apartment number. The violation does not initially carry a monetary penalty but allows 30 or 60 days to cure the violation. If the violation is not cured, a monetary sum is placed on the violation for not having it cured in the time frame allowed. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #450:  I've heard that washers and dryers can harm plumbing and cause building infrastructure problems. What is your recommendation on washing machine ownership by tenants, particularly in pre-war buildings? Post your answer

Answer: Washers and dryers cannot hurt the system. In some cases, washers have clogged the drain pipes. This won't happen if low-suds detergent is used. What is most important is that washing machines (both dish and clothes) be installed by one who knows the plumbing codes. Connections to both hot and cold water supply must be protected by backflow preventers. Dick Koral

Answer: To expand on the above answer, most buildings were not designed to handle the additional water load of a washer. When you run water in a sink it uses gravity to go down, but when a washer drains water, it is pumped. This can cause what I call the 5pm Long Island expressway effect. Too much water and no where to go. In this case the neighbors below will suffer. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #446: I am a stationary engineer in Brooklyn, dual license (high pressure steam & refrigerating machine operator). Is there a list of other states that will honor our New York City licenses? I was thinking of moving and do not want to start over with testing. Post your answer

Answer: You may get other good answers, but in the meantime quite possibly a good place to start might be the entity or entities which originally issued your license(s). They may have the answer or may know where to search. Or try searching the www.nyc.gov and the official websites of the states you're thinking of moving to.


Question #445: What are the ingredients to WD-40? Post your answer

Answer: Read this article written about WD-40, and visit their website.


Question #439: Please explain the process of double glazing. Post your answer

Answer: I'm not sure what you want to know about the "process" of double glazing, but put very simply, double glazing in windows is the use of two panes of glass with dead air space between them. This creates a certain insulating quality and will increase energy efficiency, along with other performance benefits.


Question #438: How many 12 gauge thhm wires can I safely put in a 1/2" conduit? Post your answer

Answer: See the answer to Question #419.


Question #425: I  am the super of a 19 family building. One of the tenants left a 1 year old child on a bed which was pushed up against a cast iron radiator. The baby put his hand on the radiator and got badly burned. The tenant has lived here over 3 years, and never asked for them until their baby got burned. They are now suing the owner. My question: Is there a New York City law for radiator covers? Post your answer

Answer: Read the Multiple Dwelling Law (NYS) and the Housing Maintenance Code (NYC) for possible answers.

Answer: No law requires covers. Torts - No Common Law or Statutory Duty of Landlord to Install Radiator Covers in an Apartment Where Children Live Rivera v. Nelson Realty LLC, 7 N.Y.3d 530, 825 N.Y.S.2d 422 (2006). The Court of Appeals affirms the First Department which had held that there is no duty imposed on a landlord either by virtue of the Multiple Dwelling Law or the Administrative Code to require installation of radiator covers in apartments where they know that small children reside. The court takes the opportunity to expound on the meaning of Basso v. Miller (40 N.Y.2d 233 (1976)) which abolished the distinction between an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser insofar as the duty that is owed. The standard of "reasonable care under the circumstances" is deceptively simple and not so broadly interpreted. A landlord is still not liable to a tenant unless a duty to repair is imposed by statute, by regulation, or by contract. In this case, as in the case where there was no duty to install window guards (Ramos v. 600 West 183rd Street, 155 A.D.2d 333), the Multiple Dwelling Law, Section 78 does not mandate a duty to install radiator covers, nor does the City's Administrative Code, Section 27-809, which applies only to insulating exposed piping.


Question #424: I moved out of my apartment and left some scratches on the wall. My landlord is charging me $250 to fix it, which I think is too high. Do I have a right to do it on my own or hire a professional to do it for cheaper? Post your answer

Answer: In most leases, there is a clause stating that upon vacating the apartment, it must be left in a "broom swept" condition. Your lease also normally states that the walls are to be left in the same color and condition as when the apartment was moved into, less normal wear and tear. Since you already moved out of the apartment, and IF you surrendered the keys, it is too late to cure this. If you have moved out but not yet surrendered the keys, then you still have the right to correct the condition. Pgrech, Gboc.net


Question #422: I would like to know what is the average salary for a Super working in an office building for a private firm, with or without certifications? More specifically, what can one expect to make as a part-time super who is not a member of a union? Post your answer

Answer: There is no "average" salary for a super, not even when you break it down to a part-time non-union super. The variables are just too many (size of the building, previous super's salary, etc.), to state a categorical average that would be helpful. For further information read the categorized questions under Supers and Management, as well as the other Categorized FAQs.


Question #419: How many 12 gauge cables can I put into a half inch and a one inch EMT conduit? Post your answer

Answer: By cables I assume you mean conductors, commonly called electrical wires. This answer refers only to single/solid wire not tw or stranded wire. 1/2 inch: 5 wires at #12; 1 inch: 13 wires at #12. Keep in mind that all boxes have limits on how many wires in them. Basically, on a 1/2 inch emt or bmt, it doesn't matter the formula, is 40% of the totals area of the diameter or 0.122 sq. inches. for 1 inch it would be 40% or 0.346 sq. inches. Pgrech, Gboc.Net


Question #413: My building is a new apartment which opened in the end of September this year, and I moved in when it opened. I've had leaks from my bedroom ceiling twice. The building super told me that they have had some people fixed the ceiling right after when it happened for the first time, however, it happened again yesterday. It leaked from the same place, and it was even worse than the last time. I did not have much damage on my furniture, however, I had to remove everything out to the living room and was not able to leave the house and ruined my whole day. I've reported to the management office, and they say that they've already arranged some people to fix it, however, that's the only thing they can do. Is it possible for reducing my rent? Post your answer

Answer: Probably not.


Question #412: My mom wants to do renovations (kitchen update, new bathroom sink and vanity and painting of entire apartment) in her studio in an Upper West Side co-op. How can we find a reputable contractor to do the renovations and how can we check out contractors we talk to? Post your answer

Answer: I think the best way is to actually speak to people who have themselves used a contractor, and ask them what their experiences were with their contractor, and whether or not they can recommend him. Ask plenty of questions of those who have had recent renovations done. You should get an earful on who to hire/who not to hire. Any contractor you initially interview should be willing to furnish you with a short list of their previous clients, which you can also try to contact to get feedback.


Question #407: Is there a web-site or book that I can find out about computer application software for monitoring/gauging a gas boiler? Post your answer

Answer: There is none that I know of. I have asked around and it seems no one else knows of such a book or program either. This is not to say that one doesn't exist. IF you find one let us know. PGrech, gboc.net


Question #397: The other day my manager was talking to the board president about installing co-generation. They turned to me and asked me what did I think about co-generation. I said we need to study it more before making a decision. Now I have NO idea what co-generation is. I tied to look it up but really couldn't find anything. So please what is it, is it a good idea, what can I say to make them think I am smart and know about this subject. Can you have a free workshop on co-generation and visit a building with it? Post your answer

Answer: Cogeneration simply means combined heat and power (CHP). Cogeneration systems either convert waste heat into power or generate heat and power from a single energy input, usually using either reciprocating engines or a turbine. Turbines are normally powered by steam or hot air. Combustion turbines have a compressor, combustor, and hot air turbine in a single unit. One common method is to use the waste heat from an engine or combustion turbine to generate steam, which is then used to power a steam turbine. CHP allows a more total use of energy than conventional generation, potentially reaching an efficiency of 70-90%, compared with approximately 50% for conventional plants. This means that less fuel needs to be consumed to produce the same amount of energy. (I don't know how you can say you tried to look it up but couldn't find anything - there's more online than you could read in many weeks). Here is a pretty good site on the subject. Google "cogeneration" for lots more info.

Answer: To answer the rest of your question, it is possible that in the near future we would have a trip to a building with cogeneration. We have had similar trips to green buildings. Your emphasis on FREE is bothersome. Seems many want to get everything for free and fast. It has taken most of us a lifetime to learn what we have learned, and we are glad to share our knowledge with people who ask. As for free, the saying here is "forget about it". Pgrech, Gboc.net

Answer: To find out if cogeneration is applicable to your building, go to www.nyserda.org, the state energy office, and ask for expert assistance. In general, cogeneration systems are feasible only for large apartment buildings or building complexes.


Question #383: I am not a member but was at this week's meeting. Can you make a one day workshop on heating? Can you make workshops on electrical and plumbing or on general building repairs, etc? I want to learn as much as I can but I don't want to be a member as I can't afford the $45.00 per year. Jeff seemed so knowledgeable about the subject. The club president, Peter I think was so knowledgeable also. Post your answer

Answer:  Let me get this straight: you can't invest $45 for an annual membership that will help in furthering your knowledge, your supering skills and education, which will help you do your job better? Yet you're willing to pay, as a non-member, for each workshop we give? Are you kidding yourself? Because, although our workshops (those that are given outside of the monthly meetings) are usually free to members, we do charge non-members a fee to participate. We are a Technical Society, workshops are what we do continually, but participants pay at least a nominal fee for day long workshops with us, as they would anywhere else. Either it comes as part of the membership fee or you will pay individually for the workshops at a higher price. Meaning that if you take two or more workshops per year, you'll be paying more out-of-pocket that if you just paid the membership fee. Your choice. My suggestion: be smart about it, pay the membership fee and be a part of a growing brotherhood of supers and other building maintenance workers who care about themselves and each other and are willing to grow together and help each other realize our dreams. Glen Stoltz


Question #375: We are an 80 unit co-op that will need a superintendent after our current one retires in a year. What is the best way to attract and retain a good super that can serve our building for many years to come. Post your answer

Answer: Salary is one way to attract the kind of super you are seeking. Bonus, an apartment that meets his/her family needs as well as respect and dignity for his/her position. I recommend that you make up a job description of what you require of your new super as well as the traits you're looking for. If you need more info or any help email me at Pgrech4214@aol.com. Pgrech

Answer: Be VERY careful to check his background. Our cooperative hired a super who had been fired by his previous building but was given a good recommendation as part of an arbitration settlement. He also lied about having a no. 6 license on his resume. Check very carefully.


Question #369: I would like to know if a proprietary license can be transferred to another individual who is a partner. What paperwork would be needed to do this. Post your answer

Answer: Read the offering plan. This book is the bible of your co-op or condo. If no help is found in it then ask the managing agent, they are there to help and facilitate your co-op/condo experience.

Answer: Without knowing exactly what license you're referring to, it's impossible to answer that question.


Question #345: How would you describe a job description for an elevator man/handyman in an upscale Manhattan apartment building. Post your answer

Answer: First of all I guess he has his ups n downs. (Sorry couldn't resist). The answer depends on the building and what is needed as well as required. Job descriptions cannot be generated without a visit to your building only because no two building are alike. So without knowing your building better, it would be hard to generate a job description that works for him in your building. Your managing agent should help you here, or if you like email me at Pgrech4214@aol.com. I do consulting for buildings and job description generation is one of my specialties. Pgrech


Question #333: What are a list of responsibilities for a resident caretaker? Post your answer

Answer: You can start by reading the FAQs Page, where the question of "what are the duties and job description of a superintendent" is answered; a resident caretaker and a superintendent will not be totally dissimilar, but share many duties.


Question #332: We are having trouble with clothes washing liquid soap being spilled on hallway carpets. We manage senior buildings where the occupants use pull carts to carry laundry. They don't get the top on tight, and then when the cart is tipped back it dribbles over the carpet. Any advice on how to get it out? Post your answer

Answer: Use a good heavy duty extractor or wet and dry vac. Pgrech


Question #326: How can I stop the condensation from the toilet? Post your answer

Answer: Condensation can not come from water that is around room temperature. Therefore, for a toilet tank to gather condensation, the water must be well below room temperature. 99% of the time water that is cold enough to cause condensation is caused by running water. Therefore, there is a small leak in your tank. Put food dye in the tank and wait and watch to see if the dye leaks out into the bowl, making sure you don't flush during that time - it may take a good 30 minutes. Then just replace the leaking part. Members of our club know these things because they are discussed at meetings. Lets see you at one soon. Peter


Question #325: What can I do about a smell that I believe to be coming from the ceiling of my apartment? I think it is a dead mouse. Post your answer

Answer: It is likely a dead mouse, decaying. The odor will diminish in time. If you can't wait, call an exterminator who know how to deal with these problems.


Question #324: My company is a new company that provides water treatment for boilers and cooling towers, and we've tried to find prices for all sorts of boiler and cooling tower maintenance. Can anyone tell me any common problems you might have had, and if possible the prices of maintenance or repair. So far all repair companies have been very vague and not helpful at all. Post your answer

Answer: On the Web page of the Association for Housing and Neighborhood Development (www.anhd.org) this appears: "Vendor Directory (Free) Provides a listing of vendors and professionals who have been recommended by one or more of our member organizations. For a PDF version, click here." It may be in there.


Question #320: I use a simple Palm PDA, and I am ready to advance to a better one. Can anyone make suggestions on good PDAs? Its confusing, and when I ask at the store, it seems they're intent on selling me the discontinued models that they want to unload. Post your answer

Answer: There are two things to look at and make decisions on: the PDA itself - there are lots of brands to choose from, and the OS (operating system) - of which there are only two choices. Start with the OS: if you're already familiar with the Palm OS, you may want to stay with a new PDA that utilizes the operating system you know, it's a proprietary system but they've tried hard to make synchronization with your PC easier as well as user software plentiful; the other alternative is any PDA that uses a downsized version of the Windows OS called PocketPC. Very generally speaking, those handhelds that use PocketPC are easier than the Palm OS to synchronize with Outlook, Word, and the other popular software that most people use (as it's already Microsoft software) - and you have lots of choices out there because everyone is writing software for the PocketPC; the Palm software that is available has maybe a bit less of a learning curve but the selection is thinner (fewer programmers write for Palm) and synchronization requires more steps so it's sometimes tougher. To help in your selection there is plenty of information online where you can learn more and bone up on the latest stuff available and do side-by-side feature and price comparisons of PDAs. At PDA Information Guide and PDA Buyers Guide find reviews of Pocket PCs and a whole lot more, at PocketPC Mag you can find the same plus lots of links to other sites and free downloads, and at PalmBlvd and PalmGear find information, comparisons and downloads for the Palm OS. Also check out the many online computer magazines (like PC Magazine) and other resources for product guides and reviews. There are many more sites. Do a Google search for more.


Question #315: Is anyone familiar with or has a smart card entry or washing machine and dryer system in their building. I would like to know who I can contact to give me a proposal for converting key and coin operated systems in my building. Post your answer

Answer:  Two companies come to my mind: CoinMach, which we use (800-327-9274) or Hercules (800-526-5760 ext. 242). If you need more names and numbers email me privately and I'll send them to you. Pgrech

Answer: There are a number of companies that do this. Check resources listings at www.cooperator.com and www.habitatmag.com. That said, when our building converted to "smart cards" it was terrible, we never had so many troubles with machines. Cards would be come demagnetized and loose value, the machines would refuse to read them and they did not have the flexibility of coins. Example: with coins, after adding the first 50 cents to a dryer you could add more in 25 cent increments - not with the smart cards. When I spoke with the service man for the company he said that the coin machines were more reliable. The slide coin seems to be better than the coin drop.


Question #310: A Gas Tight Joint, such as a welded joint... To what engineering/ASTM/ASME criteria would you refer to as far as the type test to perform and accept/reject criteria? Weld is on a vessel that is designed to operate at atmospheric pressure or slight vacuum at 500 degrees F. Can't have cooler air entering or hot hazardous gases exiting. Petroleum refinery industry. Post your answer

Answer: The answer to this question is very long and can't fit into the allotted space. The joint you are referring to is a CPJ groove weld which is considered Full Strength Weld. Weld strengths are specified by AWS and ASIC. Pgrech


Question #309: We are making some changes in our maintenance/custodial positions in our school district buildings and are looking for a source for interview questions for applicants to these positions. They will be responsible for similar basic maintenance & custodial services to school buildings as a building super would provide...can you help? Post your answer

Answer: Your question demands more space than is allowed. If you would like, please email me or call me and I will be happy to supply you with questions. Question remains, do you or some one on your board know the right answers? Pgrech Pgrech4214@aol.com


Question #296: I live in a large co-op hi-rise, and I want to create a bedroom out of my dining area. I've been told that, because of ventilation laws, I will need to partly use pressurized walls (not permanent) to close off the door to the kitchen. What I'm wondering is: how big does that 'non-permanent' opening really need to be, legally? Can I just use temp materials to cover a 2'x 2' hole, instead of the entire doorway? There is no ventilation system in the kitchen, as the dining area windows are considered acceptable, but once I close off the kitchen door, that wouldn't apply, without a 'temporary' wall. Post your answer

Answer: Sorry I don't really have a solution to your question. Seems that your best move is to seek the advice of an architect. After getting all the facts, they would be able to give you the best choices for solutions that meet the legal requirements. Pgrech


Question #294: What is the appropriate annual tip for a live-in super in a non-luxury building? Post your answer

Answer: Read the answers to similar questions on the Frequently Asked Questions Page and elsewhere on this website.


Question #275: I bought in a co-op building 2 years ago. We have a common courtyard with a chain link fence around it. I live on the bottom floor and look out on the courtyard but on my side of the fence is a 15x20 slab of concrete that my windows look onto. I left a message with my managing office that I would like to spend my own money fixing it up. I have tastefully cleaned it up. I placed a bench out there. NOW, my super says it is against the law because it is a fire hazard because it is above the parking garage BUT so is the common courtyard that also has benches on it. My question is, are there any regulations or is someone just jealous that I made something nice out of something ugly? Post your answer

Answer: To the best of our knowledge, if the bench is close to the wall and the walkway is NOT fire egress, then  there is NO fire hazard; if the bench is not close to a source of combustion, then again - no fire hazard. Last, if it was a fire hazard, this type of hazard is so low on the list that only a violation to remove would be issued. Pgrech


Question #273: I am looking to purchase several window-mounted air conditioners to use in my Brooklyn apartment. It is a two bedroom that I share with a roommate. We might install as many as three units, one for each bedroom and one for the dining room/kitchen. How do we know the best amount of BTU's to get in relation to the space AND that the electrical wiring will be able to sustain it, given that many of the components of the building were apparently not  completed to code? Post your answer

Answer: First, take the measurements of the room (length, width, height), and determine the BTUs needed. Figure out (you can use the calculator here) the size of the a/c unit you will need for each room (in BTUs). Then you must figure out if the a/c units of the BTU size you need will be supported by the existing electrical system in your apartment, because three units running at the same time may blow your fuses or trip your circuit breakers - if they're on the same circuit with other heavy electric users. If you determine that you can have the three units, get models that have thermostats, this way your unit will turn off at a predetermined temperature. Most important of all, always keep the doors closed, and you can get a fan to circulate the air, that would help also. Also, find information on the EER (energy efficiency rating) for appliances here. Roberto Cardona


Question #261:  Where or how can I become a doorman ? Post your answer

Answer: Check the ads in the local papers a few times a week, check the ads here on this website at least weekly, and talk to employed doormen, handymen, supers and managers. Come to our monthly meetings and become a member (not necessarily in that order!). Members can post their resumes onsite, and you can network with others in the business at our meetings. You'll hear about some jobs that way. You can also put a "Situation Wanted" ad on our website, but don't depend on just that to find a job - you need to do some legwork and presenting resumes in an effort to get interviews.


Question #226: Can you refer a union locksmith? Post your answer

Answer: In New York City there are NO unions for locksmiths. Pgrech


Question #220: I would like to know what does this mean: NFPA, JCAHO, DOH and LSC, because a lot of job ads ask for it. Post your answer

Answer:


Question #214: When I was younger I worked for Local 32 B&J many summers. Now I have a co-worker's son looking for a summer job. Can anyone tell me if there is a way to apply with 32 B&J or one of the management companies for a summer position. Post your answer

Answer: It's unclear whether you're speaking about working at the union or in a temporary union job in building maintenance. If your co-worker's son wants to work at Union headquarters, he would call or go to union headquarters to find out about job availability. If he wants to apply for a temp building maintenance job, such as porter, doorman, or handyman, he would apply to the management company responsible for the building. He would not apply through the union for a job which a management company is hiring for.


Question #213: I have recently purchased a co-op apartment and would like to do a bit of work (painting, carpet installation, and bathroom "facelift" - new tile and floor, toilet, vanity, fixtures, etc.) Who is the best type of person to complete this job and is there a ball park range I can expect to pay? The apt. is about 1200 sq. ft. with two VERY small bathrooms. Thanks. Post your answer

Answer: There are many good contractors. But beware of "referral companies". All they do is get a few contractors, have them give you inflated estimates, and they get a nice cut of the profits. Just call some contractors directly, and have them give you free estimates. A little research will save you thousands. Fred Blood

Answer: A licensed and experienced contractor, who has worked extensively in New York City, is your best bet. He will also give you a free written estimate/proposal, which will give you the answer you're looking for.


Question #210: Where do I go to find a job as a doorman or porter in apartment buildings? Post your answer

Answer:  Another way is the old fashioned way: Hit the pavement with resume in hand. Especially hit buildings that are still under construction. Find out who the owner or the management company is. These buildings usually start hiring about the time the windows have been installed. Pgrech

Answer: All of the big local papers (NY Times, NY Post, Daily News) run ads from time to time for doormen and other building support personnel, especially in the Sunday editions. But the best way, as always, is to get a referral from someone in the business - either another doorman, or a super or manager. Get your resume up to date. Become a member of this Association and network with others - attend meetings and make friends and acquaintances of other members, you WILL hear of upcoming or existing openings to which you can apply.


Question #197: Where can I find a standard sprinkler/standpipe inspection form to use for my monthly inspections? Post your answer

Answer: This is a very simple form you can get from any superintendent who has a standpipe and sprinkler system in their building. If you still have a problem getting the forms feel free to contact me at cardona1009@aol.com, we can work something out and make them available to you. Roberto Cardona


Question #189: What is the average tip doormen receive in New York City for Christmas? Post your answer

Answer: There really is no "average tip". Read the FAQs page for some thoughts from building support personnel, also scan the other question and answer pages, especially the Supers & Management category page, for more info on tipping.


Question #187: Does anyone know of any good sheetrockers available in Brooklyn? Post your answer

Answer:


Question #182: I need the phone number to report lack of heat in my building. Post your answer

Answer: 311. This is now the only number to use for ALL non-emergency calls to the City. Lack of heat in your building, while it is important especially as it gets colder, comes under non-emergencies. That number is 311. (See the advertisement for 911 and 311 in the right column of this page, near the bottom).


Question #180: I'm renting an apartment in which my bedroom shares a common wall with my roommates bedroom, which creates an issue with respect to sound/privacy. I would like to know what is the most economical soundproofing solution (under $200), which would be easy to install, limiting the use of glue so as not to damage the wall upon removal? Post your answer

Answer: What really kills sound transmission is mass. Try rearranging both rooms to put as much furniture against the wall as possible. Heavy hangings (art, drapes, etc.) will also help here. A real job would be much more than $200 and involve measures that would alter the wall cavity. Another strategy is to buy a "white noise" device that masks other noise. Look in electronics stores. Dick Koral


Question #178: Where can I rent an insulation pumping machine to pump into my home's outside walls? Post your answer

Answer: The short answer is DON'T try to do it yourself. Blowing insulation into a wall is a tricky business. Do find three insulation contractors in the Yellow Pages, check out their credentials and talk to customers who have use them, before selecting one. Dick Koral


Question #171: Can you help me find information on energy efficiency retrofits for multiple dwellings? Post your answer

Answer: Go to Google search, put in energy efficient retrofits" + "multifamily buildings as your search parameters. You'll find many leads, links and much information, much more than you can quickly digest.


Question #165: Before we signed a lease, we discussed floor refinishing with the super. He said it would cost $200. but I said I wanted the landlord to cover it since the floors were crappy. On lease signing day, the landlord told the super in front of us that he would pay him to finish the floor. The landlord said we should probably tip him. On moving day, we gave the super $70 and thanked him for a wonderful job. Now the super is repeatedly asking us for $200 since everyone who moves in pays him $200 he says. We keep telling him that wasn't an agreement we made with him or the landlord but he keeps asking. English is not his 1st language. We're fearful he may deny service and we're afraid to ask him anything. Is this legal? Any suggestions? Post your answer

Answer: This happened in the old days, and was called key money. In modern times supers for the most part do not do this kind of thing. If he did not do any service to you that was not covered under your lease, then his requesting money from you is illegal. I would try one more time in explaining to him that you owe him nothing. Do it in writings, and mention that you did tip him 70 bucks and if he persists then your only recourse would be to inform management. He is obligated by law and by his employment to the landlord to repair in a quick and competent manner any problems that arise and that are covered by your lease. If he fails to do that, then you have legal rights. In the end, I am not sure if all this is worth it. No one likes to be squeezed, and we here at the Supers Technical Association find it distasteful and it undermines everything that the club stands for. Good luck. PGrech

Answer: If you did not specifically agree at any time to pay him the $200 in question, then you have no moral or legal obligation to pay it, no matter what the other incoming tenants have paid him. Furthermore, it borders on -- if it isn't outright -- extortion. No super should be allowed to get away with extortion. If he subsequently withholds normal services, or fails to do timely repairs, because he feels you still owe him the money, it could fairly be judged as extortion, and you should complain to management. If management fails to address the issue with the super and end the matter once and for all, you certainly have a right to take it further.


Question #162: Can anyone tell me whether or not my landlord is required to provide me with phone jacks in my apartment? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Phone jacks, like cable connections, are not part of the landlord's responsibility, unless specified in your lease. Pgrech

Answer: Of course it depends on the lease or rental agreement that you signed, but no lease/rental I've ever heard of has provided that the landlord installs your phone jacks for you. Normally the phone company must install at least one when the service is turned on -- if there are none available already -- and will install more for you if you wish, for a fee. If you want more installed now, call any of those people looking for work on our Situations Wanted page. At least some of them would be happy to help you out.


Question #159: We live in a big old pre-war building. Occasionally there has been a strong chlorine smell in the taps or shower -- to the point where it stings the eyes. The city says it is not them and they have tested the water inlet. It is something in the building? Any ideas? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Chlorine is in the water that the City supplies. Ordinarily, it comes out of solution only when the water is heated. For some reason, the escaping gases from your building's domestic hot water heating system is bubbling up to your tap. Of course, you could periodically run the hot water faucet and allow it to escape. But a plumber should be brought in to install a vent to the roof. This should not be very expensive. Dick Koral

Answer: This sounds like a serious problem which has to be fixed right away.  I can't believe that the water department just said it wasn't a supply source problem. I would think that the quality of domestic water should be an EPA issue.  Has someone checked whether it could be a situation with a faulty back flow check valve -- maybe coming from a laundry room?  I have back flow check valves on my washers.  It's a long shot but I think it has something to do with a back flow problem in the building.

Answer: It is extremely unlikely that enough chlorine in the potable water would escape to cause burning in your eyes. It is more likely caused by a large amount of chlorine in the waste piping due to discharge from clothes washing machines or chlorine saturated waste water being dumped into a sink. It is possible that there is a trap problem somewhere. I would look for the problem in the drainage system before I would suspect the water supply. Jeff Eichenwald


Question #154: How do I go about getting an elevator apprentice job in New York City? I graduated from a electronics technical school and also have six years as a electronics technician and 1 year as a facilities technician. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: First try the unions, I believe local 1 or Local 2; Second, try the yellow pages for elevator companies and call them. Third, check the NY times and Daily News Sunday employment sections. Forth, go online to New York Times employment and search. PGrech


Question #153: The owners of my building are constructing a new building within 5 feet of my bedroom window. What are my rights as a tenant regarding noise control during construction? For Saturday and Sunday construction I have been told they require a permit. Do they have to display this permit to the public? If they have permission to work from 9am - 6pm on a Saturday and they begin working two hours early at 7am, what are my rights? What protection from burglars around the work site is required? At the moment they can just slide past the gate and up some stairs and peer in my windows. Am I allowed one day of quiet as a resident? The construction is so jarring that I am becoming emotionally upset. What can I do? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The New York City Building Department can answer all your questions regarding this inquiry. I believe they have jurisdiction over these matters. Good Luck and I hope you get some satisfaction. Eugene Marabello

Answer: Go to the NYC Department of Building Code Web site and click on the Table of Contents, because the code is enormous. Your answer is in there, someplace! Dick Koral


Question #151:  I am interested in seeing whether a gas-powered generator can be practically, legally and safely installed to operate essential services during a blackout in a residential co-op, 9 stories, 73 apartments, 24 car garage and basement. Calculating @ 1kW / floor, X 10 floors to include a domestic water pump, gas/oil burner with auxiliary pumps, elevator, etc, plus 1kW for the garage lights and opener and heat-fans.

Could such a setup be installed in the boiler-room, electric meter room, garage, or yard, or on the garage roof? Would the gas supply be likely to continue during a blackout? Could it be dual fuel, to use our #2 heating oil as a backup? I found a nominal 8KW gas-powered generator on-line of only $2000 plus $500 for a transfer switch. Since the next blackouts may possibly be prolonged and frequent, might this be money well spent? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The answer is yes.  However, you would need to speak to the Fire Department of New York to find out if any permits or licenses are required to operate the generator. Also, the generator must be properly vented to the outside. You can't vent it through the boiler stack.  You would need to check the code, but I believe a pipe leading out of the boiler room like into the back yard maybe fine.  Installing a steam turbine that generates electricity from unused steam is usually referred to as cogeneration, this electricity is used for the building power, lowering the cost of electricity for the building. Any unused electricity generated is sold back to Con Ed. Peter Grech


Question #149: Anyone know of long-lasting battery-pack emergency lighting for prolonged blackouts? Current models I have found are standard at 90 minutes, and may be extended to 3-4 hours at most.  Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The back up lights that you have mentioned are the standard. I have not heard of any back up lights that can keep running for more then 3 to 4 hr. These lights are mainly used for occupants to evacuate a building.
Pgrech


Question #148: Our lease is up 9/30/03. We notified the landlord that we would not be renewing and were told that we must paint the entire apartment, or they would paint and charge us. There is no damage to the paint other than normal wear & tear. We are willing to paint the damaged wall but not the whole apartment. Can the landlord withhold our security deposit? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The landlord CAN withhold your security, the question is can he do so legally? I recommend taking pictures of your apartment. Do the paint touch up that you mentioned. IF he will not return your deposit, then take him to court. Your pictures are worth a thousand words. Make sure they are clear enough and that you use that days front page of a newspaper to proved the date they were taken. Pgrech


Question #147:  What is acceptable to put in garbage disposals?

Answer: A garbage disposal is made, and installed, to give a homeowner an easy way to dispose of foods and food ingredients, and nothing else. If you want more information, the instructions that come with a new one will give you the facts. Also any plumber who has installed one will be able to tell you what is acceptable for disposal. Here's a link to one brand's installation, use & maintenance manual (pdf file).


Question #136: My apartment building entrance door has a spring to shut the door after opening and there are glass panels in the door. The door sprung back at me the other day and in trying to stop the door, my hand went through the glass panel and cut my hand very badly (12 stitches and lots of small cuts). Is the landlord negligent in that, first, he didn't use tempered glass, and second, didn't use a damper to slow down the door, instead of a spring? Is he responsible for my medical expenses? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: We do not dispense legal advice. Consult a law professional.


Question #135: I have heard different numbers given for super requirements. Could someone tell me the rules regarding live-in supers. Is living on-site required if the building has over a certain amount of units? What is the magic number of units. If they are not on-site, they can live a certain distance away from the building? How many feet? Miles? If, in a 80 unit building the super is beeper/cell available 24/7 is that acceptable? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: See the answers to Question # 69, and check out the Housing Maintenance Code online.


Question #131: I’m a Queens co-op apartment owner, and want to get some home improvements done: Kitchen: replacing cabinets with new, removing, replacing & disposing of existing appliances (refrigerator, range, microwave) & adding new dishwasher, replacing floor tiles, installing new countertop, painting walls. Bathroom: replacing medicine cabinet, replacing vanity/sink & painting walls. Super wants $4K including providing countertop & new wood cabinets, providing floor tiles for kitchen, providing paint. I provide appliances. Is (A) $ reasonable; (B) a contract advisable; (C) licenses / insurance./bonds required (D) co-op board restrictions / requirements & (E) other?. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: It's hard to judge without knowing more details, but the price looks reasonable barring complications. You should have a contract spelling out some details, and someone, either you or the contractor, needs to carry insurance (preferably both of you). Most condos/co-ops will let you do very little without their approval, so your first stop should be to contact them to find out what other requirements you will need to meet.

Answer: All that for 4K, give me his name and number so I can use him. Price is good. Contract advisable, for that price you should get the insurance your self don't understand the rest. PGrech


Question #124: I just moved out of a 6 apartment building and my landlord (he owns others) has deducted the cost, $1800.00, to repaint the apartment, which, by the way, hasn't been painted in 7.5 years. Is there any standard for how often a landlord, in an unregulated building, has to repaint? Small claims court -- here I come. Thank for any help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Unregulated means UNREGULATED. While there is no set charge a painter charges, it will be hard to say if the amount you were charged is fair or not. The landlord should have receipts and cancelled checks to prove this amount was the amount charged and that the work was actually done and paid for. You should have done a WALK THROUGH with the landlord before handing over the apartment. In the walkthrough the landlord would have told you that you were going to incur charges. Note that charges should only be for DAMAGES that the tenant made and NOT charges for NORMAL wear and tear to the apartment. PGrech

Answer: Go to www.tenant.net, there is a forum on that site where you can ask your question and get the best advice. Matt

Answer: Unregulated only means that the amount of rent and renewal increases are not subject to government regulations. All buildings with three or more apartments are still subject to the New York state multiple dwelling law and the New York City housing maintenance code. Landlords are required to paint apartments every three years. Your landlord cannot charge you for painting your apartment. He could withhold some of your security deposit, but only for unusual damages, not normal wear and tear. Jeff Eichenwald


Question #120: I have recently hired a mechanic to replace my water heater. He placed the old water heater right outside on the sidewalk. The department of sanitation does not remove the old water heaters! How can I get the old water heater removed now? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: You could try calling a private sanitation company to come and pick it up. Mike MacGowan


Question #119: My apartment is heated by gas and I've discovered that I am also paying to provide heat to the radiators in the vestibule and hallway in my building. My landlord tells me that this is costing me no money and that it is not in violation of the shared meter law. Is this correct? How can it be that two additional radiators are not increasing my gas bill? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I can't answer the question of whether or not it's legal, but it's not uncommon that a tenant would have part of the building, hallway and/or outside lights on his/her meter. Yes it would certainly increase your monthly bill, ranging from a negligible to an outrageous amount, depending on how much of the landlord's electricity or gas you are paying for. PGrech


Question #118: I want to rent a device to measure carbon monoxide levels. I don't mean an alarm that only goes off when levels reach 30 or 50 parts per million. I want a device with a digital display hopefully going down to one part per million. Any information as to where I can get it will be greatly appreciated. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Don't know where you can RENT such a device, but you can certainly BUY one at, among other places, Grainger. Their website is at www.grainger.com. In New York City they have 3 locations in Manhattan (east side, west side, downtown) and one each in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.


Question #112: I manage a 6 unit building in Ridgewood Queens. Lately, tenants have been complaining of mice that they hear in the ceiling and see dead mice under the refrigerator. How can they can be getting into the building and how do we prevent them from entering. How do we get rid of them? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No one can answer your specific questions without actually visiting your building, and a professional can help you best with your pest problems. So first and foremost, immediately retain the services of a reputable, professional extermination service. If they have good training and long experience, most if not all of your questions will be answered (many of the better exterminators take refresher and update courses many times a year), and you WILL keep the mouse -and other pest populations - under control. One of the best we know is a member of the Club: Metro Pest Control, Inc. 718-803-0000. Dick Koral


Question #107: I have been asked, by the manager of a 20 1-bedroom unit low-income not-for-profit building, and has about a 30% turnover each year, who wishes to know how this rate compares to the average for other low-income buildings. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I asked my friend who runs a low income property, and his building has a 22% per year turnover.

Answer: You might try searching for answers to your questions at housingnyc.com. There is much housing research there.


Question #106: Should a non-licensed, non-certified person be repairing C violations (lead paint, cracking ceilings)? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Lead paint is only an issue if there are young children in the apartment, 6 years old or younger. If there are children 6 or younger, then the painter must follow the lead abatement rules. There is nothing in the Codes that I know of, that the painter must have a certification to do the work - only that they follow the rules.


Question #104: I just moved into a new place. The super asked me for $300. I did not say I would pay him that, I agreed to tip. The landlord never told me about this and it's not in my lease. The super has told me "Where is my money?" Yesterday I told him I'd give him $50 but that's it. He got angry and said that if he would have known this he wouldn't have referred me to the landlord. I am very upset because I think am being scammed. Now I am sure that the super is never going to fix anything in my apartment. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Only YOU can really know if you are being scammed, but it sure looks like it to me, from the little you've said. Whatever arrangement was made between you and him, you both are duty-bound to honor it, as long as it's legal. But one thing is certain: IF the super will refuse to fix things in your apartment because you didn't pay him what was agreed on (even if you both agree that the amount was what he said it was), then he is wrong and is behaving unethically. In that case you should report him to the landlord or the managing agent responsible for the building. This is all a very nebulous area, and a true 'he said/she said' situation, but he can and should be fired IF he does not take care of things in your apartment which are his responsibility.


Question #103: I'm moving into an 80 unit building in Brooklyn soon. I found out too late that the landlord threw out the original 1940's / 50's style 30" stove and is replacing it with a new appliance. Does anyone have one of these old 30" stoves? Or could you direct me to anyone who might have any? Thanks very much for any help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I'm pretty sure that several manufacturers still make 30 inch stoves. A Google search will help you.


Question #100: I am moving into a new apartment on 3/22/03 in Manhattan and have found the four pipes running through my apartment from floor to ceiling to be extremely hot. My heater was off all day and it is still about 90 degrees. The pipes (my guess: water pipes) are of course too hot to touch. What can be done to take care of this problem? Will insulating do it? Is the landlord responsible for fixing this problem? It is too hot now to stay in the apartment for any length of time, I can not imagine what summer will be. I would appreciate a speedy e-mail reply. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your super, who should probably attend our meetings to learn a little about his heating system, is the only one who can control the boiler. The city housing code only states that you should have a minimum temperature during the winter and no concern about a maximum one.

Your landlord should be ashamed of himself. With the cost of fuel as it is, he should be trying to conserve fuel use and run his building more efficiently. What's really driving the housing market is the limited amount of housing available in the city. He doesn't care to correct anything because he has passed his inefficiencies on to the renter.

The only solution I see for you: Go to Home Depot or a plumbing supply and pickup fiberglass pipe wrap. It runs about a dollar a foot and is easy to install. It's round and has about a one inch wall thickness around. It has a split surface for wrapping around a pipe. It's the best insulation for your situation. If you have complained to the owner and he hasn't responded or doesn't care, I see insulating the pipes as the only remedy for your problem. I think you may have an issue with the housing dep. if you don't have radiators in those other rooms. I hope I've been of some help. Good luck!


Question #99: Where may I send my doormen for training? Any schools available? Local 32B 32J does not offer any training. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Local 32BJ does offer some training in the form of communication and tenant relations skills. PGrech


Question #94: I live in a tenement downtown. Our building does not have an intercom system. Residents of the 5 floor, 16 apartment building have asked the landlord for one but she says its too expensive to install. Approximately how much do these things cost to purchase and install? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Most intercom installation companies will give you a free estimate. There are too many variables to give you even an approximate estimate without visiting the building site.


Question #93: How does varying the cross-link density affect the elasticity of silicone elastomer? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Varying the crosslinking density decreased smoothly over a distance of 18 microns from a maximum at the outer surface. In another case, the crosslinking density was uniform over a distance of 5 microns and then dropped abruptly. In either case, varying the cross link density effects the elasticity of the silicone elastomer by decreasing its smoothness as its spreads.

Answer: The cross link density affects the smoothness, but not the elasticity. The elasticity is more determined by the ratio of polymer and fumed silica in the rubber base.
Peter Grech


Question #91: Is it legal for the building maintenance person to go through wrapped garbage to find recyclable items such as tins, juice cartons? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Maintenance is supposed to exercise due diligence in ensuring that tenants' recyclable waste is segregated for pickup. (By the way, juice cartons are not recyclable, but the tins are.) I would so much appreciate knowing what it is that bothers you. There might be a solution. Dick Koral


Question #90: Re: exit signs in New York City locations, I have been told by our safety section that we need to install exit signs in our unmanned 12x12 pumping stations, with one door in and out. My questions are as follows: 1) does an unmanned location 12x12 and smaller with one door need a sign? 2)Now that we follow the 1999 NEC does the letters still have to be 8" as per the old City code or can they be 6"? Is there a city building code not allowing just an EXIT sticker placed near the door with an emergency light shinning on it? as per OSHA that would work, but how about the building code or fire code? Can anyone find or help me track in print where I can find these answers. If not just tell me what you think. Thanks in advance. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Check out the Department of Buildings website at: www.nyc.gov/html/dob/home.html. We cover multi-family residential building questions.

Answer: Your question is very complex as it crosses over many government agencies. Your question may better be answered by an architect or engineer. You might also ask the Department of Buildings. PGrech


Question #82: Is there a list or document of all condos with live-in supers somewhere? I am doing research and just need to know which buildings have a super living on the premises. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Call Yale Robbins in Manhattan. They are the publishers of the Co-op/Condo Directory. They sell the list on a CD. From the list, you will have to winnow out what you need.
Dick Koral
Question #76: How can I find a list of available section 8 apartments? I heard your website had it, but couldn't find it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to Google (www.google.com) and put in your search parameters. I found 696,000 sites searching for "section 8 apartment". This site is more for questions related to building maintenance.


Question #75: I just bought a condo in Manhattan and found this site very helpful regarding many questions about supers. Is there a similar site for Doormen of condos and co-ops where I can see similar answers to questions like tipping rules when you move in, etc... Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: No site exists that I know of. Ask your question on this page, maybe we can answer it for you.
PGrech
Question #72: Could you give me a job description of a hotel doorman. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: This website is geared toward multi-family residential buildings. Job descriptions are the duties of the person that hires you. No one job description can be used as a universal job description because each hotel, and even each building for that matter, have special needs. Ask a few doormen of hotels about their job descriptions. PGrech


Question #71: Where do I learn who in New York City needs a Certificate of Fitness? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Certificates of Fitness are issued by the New York City Fire Department for various task, like attending a burner that uses heavy oil. Go to the City's Web site (www.nyc.gov) and follow instructions to get to the Fire Department pages, then look it up. If you post here more precise questions, you will get more precise answers. Dick Koral


Question #59: I would like to know what kind of sprinkler system is used in libraries. Because I will think that the water system to extinguish a fire will damaged the books. I truly appreciate your help. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: A combination wet and dry system. In this system the pipes in the library have no water. In the event of a fire the smoke from the fire would set off the smoke detector, the smoke detector would send an electrical signal that would allow the clapper to open (the clapper is the metal trap door that restricts the water from entering the sprinkler system in the library), the fire melts the solder on the sprinkler heads and the system does battle with the fire. Be aware of the fact that the sprinkler system stays on until the fire department turns it off and resets it, for the simple reason that if the fire is too overwhelming they have to turn the system off and battle it themselves. (If the fire is too overwhelming, then the water from the sprinkler will vaporize and cause severe heat burns to the firemen). This is the reason the emergency shut off is located outside on the sidewalk with a sign indicating its location and function.
Roberto Cardona

Answer: Fires extinguished by sprinkler systems consume, on average, one-sixth the water of fires extinguished by hoses. There are several reasons for this other than the usual blame for macho firemen: Sprinklers respond faster, so the fire gets put out before it spreads very far. Water damaged books can be restored, while smoke and soot and fire damaged books cannot. Therefore, a sprinkler system is the best protection for a library.

Answer: I think that you are right. A sprinkler system would be inappropriate for a library. And I know that there are some very fine special fire protection systems for this situation which use a gas that smothers the fire, rather than water.

Since you have access to the Internet, set your browser to nyc.gov, the City's Web site, look on the left and see "City Agencies" and click on it. A drop-down menu will allow you to find Fire Department, click on that, then search the FD pages. If you cannot find the answer, you will find someplace on that site a way to ask them, either by phone or email.

It may be much easier, however, to drop by a public library and ask to speak to the custodian/superintendent. He will probably have the answer to your question.

Question #53: What does PSI mean for a dish washing machine (restaurant)? How does it hinder getting the dishes clean? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Restaurant dishwashers use water pressure to scour the food off the dishes. If your pressure is insufficient, the dishes won't get clean. If it's too high, you'll use more hot water than the water heater can make, and the electric booster in the dishwasher can cost over $1,000/day for electricity. I suggest reading the instructions that came with the dishwasher and installing a permanent pressure gauge ($30) on the hot water pipe and another one on the cold water pipe near the dishwasher. If the pressures are too high (possible in NYC) you can add a pressure-reducing valve. If the pressures are too low you can add a pump, or better yet, a spray nozzle from the dishwasher factory that accommodates lower pressure. If the pressure is OK but the machine isn't working well, I'd suspect worn spray nozzles, something no "professional" contractor will check for because it's a special order part and just too much trouble to make the phone calls to track it down.

Answer: PSI stands for pounds per square inch and, in this case, the pressure of the water supply. I guess that insufficient supply water pressure (hot and/or cold) would result in failure to be able to fill the machine as designed. Normal PSI, I think, is about 15. Higher would be OK. If, when you open the tap you get a good flow in sink or lavatory, you're OK.
Dick Koral
Question #52: I am a psychotherapist with boxes of sensitive and confidential client papers and notes. Shredding 8 pages at a time has worn down the goodwill of neighbors and my digits. Is there any way I can pay to incinerate this material? Any one know of such a company in New York City? Most appreciate a response. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There is at least one company that sells a service consisting of sending a big garbage truck with a shredder on the back. You call, they come and shred in front of you, and mix the shreds up with a truckload of other shreds.

Answer: There is a document shredding company called U.S. Document Security (USDS), which I believe is in Brooklyn. There are at least three others serving the New York city area. You can find them on the internet. Hanna Edwards

Answer: I note your connection to NYU. I'm sure the University has a ton of shredders and a few, at least, that you could use. Why not inquire at the Business Office? I do not know about private incineration services, but the shredder would save you a bundle, I'm sure!

Answer: If, in fact you are working at NYU then I would definitely contact the university business office. They may have bulk shredded services available. If not then check out the yellow pages as there are several licensed and bonded companies which will do this for you and guarantee security.


Question #49: Where and how do I apply for electrician permit? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to www.nyc.gov, click on NYC Agencies, Click on Department of Licenses. All shall be revealed.
Dick Koral


 
Question #47: Carpet warranties: Has your experience in dealing with claims against carpet warranties been positive, negative, neither? Are warranties worth having? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer:

Question #42: I'm looking to replace my boiler maintenance company with one that is savvy about energy efficiency (tests for firing accuracy, uses modern combustion analyzers, etc.). Any suggestions for an honest and modern company? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I can recommend three companies for you:

  • New York Heating- 718-782-3894
  • Marlande Heating- 718-993-4350
  • High Tech Combustion- 917-750-9357

    Jeff Eichenwald

Question #40: Do you as the Superintendent/Resident Manager let your staff clean the elevator pits? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The elevator company that maintains your elevator service should be the ones that clean the pit. They are insured for that; keep in mind that there are always the possibilities of an accident.


Question #39: With the new recycling rules in place, the super in my building is concerned about the potential dangers of glass items being mixed with other trash in the compactor bags. He reports that, in the past, glass shards were a hazard, even though the trash had been compacted. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I'm the super of a 10-floor residential building in Tribeca, with a compactor. This is what I have done: I bought an extra new container for each recycling spot (in my case, in the compactor/trash room on each floor), so I now have 3 (one for glass only, one for paper only, one for metal only), where before I had only 2 (1 for metal, glass and plastic recyclables, and 1 for paper).

In a form letter, I asked the residents NOT to put glass down the compactor chute, and have labeled all containers for the appropriate materials: Glass ONLY, Paper ONLY, Metal ONLY. I put black plastic liners in the "Glass ONLY" container, since that is now going to the regular garbage and substituted the blue recyclable bags in the old recyclable container for the clear recyclable bags (the same ones used for paper recycling), since that is what Sanitation is now calling for.


Question #38: I was told about a book used for USE and Occupancy inspections. The title of the book is The Book of Proper Maintenance and Code. Does anyone know where I could find out information about this book? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: I searched the web and couldn't find the book title you mentioned. However, I think you might be looking for the NYC Housing Maintenance Code and I have copied the link to the exact location on the net. I'm sure this publication is available in its whole form at the HPD offices. Here's the link: http://tenant.net/Other_Laws/HMC/hmctoc.html. I hope this can help you. Maybe my colleagues can help you further. Thanks for inquiring through the Club.
Gene Marabello

Answer: I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to. There is a book called the NYC Housing Maintenance Code. It is available on the www.nyc.gov website from Citybooks and costs about $15.00. You can also purchase a copy of the NYS Multiple-dwelling Law for about the same amount.
Jeff Eichenwald


Question #35: I have a problem with roof safety. I have a ladder entry to the roof and I currently have eyehooks holding down a roof cover. Does anyone know whether there is an approved roof cover which has an alarm which has a key and/or has a smoke sensitive release? Please help- - with the summer months coming, it is a big problem. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer:


Question #34: What is better to use, mechanical seals versus packaging? What is the new code for NYC? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer:


Question #32: Tenant mixes recycling stuff with regular garbage, and landlord gets the notice and penalty to be paid, from the department of sanitation. Is landlord responsible to pay the fine? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: What I do is after I receive the summons, I send the copy of the summons and the no-recycling item(s) to management and they send the tenant a notice along with a bill added on to their maintenance bill.

Answer: Yes, the owner/management is responsible.

Answer: Unfortunately, unless sanitation personnel witnesses said tenant in the act, the owner will be held responsible.
NATHANIEL

Answer: It is the responsibility of the landlord to do the recycling. However, I have witnessed sanitation going through the garbage looking for addresses and when they find them they mail a summons to that person at that address.
PETER


Question #31: Do you know of any supers in the Brooklyn area whose landlord accepts Section 8 and if there are any available 2 bedroom apartments. I would truly appreciate it. Thank you have a nice day.
Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: The Club does not get into issues such as rental subsidies, etc. Sorry.


Question #30: In the market for a new 1500 rpm burnisher. Which make do you use and are you happy with it? We use Generals which tend to need a lot repairs and seek a new brand. Opinions Welcome
Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: We carry a full line of burnishers. The MERCURY LINE (All metal construction). These are the best American made machines. Steven Kroll THUNDERBOLT PRODUCTS (516) 785-7300


Question #26: Could I get free NYC Electrical Code on-line? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Go to http://www.nyc.gov on the Web. In search box, type "NYC Electrical Code." Note first item and click on it.


Question #25: Do you have an information sheet that is provided to tenants in order to get ready for pest control? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Please provide specifics of your need. The question is too general.


Question #21: How would I get a list of Superintendents and their building locations in Brooklyn? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: If such lists exist, they are at best representative of only a few types of buildings and in any case, are not divulged by the list owners. You might address mail to "Superintendent", then street address from telephone book, then ZIP from PO. You also might look up list companies and purchase. However, we do not know how good these lists are.


Question #20: I just got a job as a building resident super in NYC. I am looking for ideas for recycle separation containers. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Call The Dept. of Sanitation (212-219-8090) in Manhattan and they will send a recycling booklet, as well as self sticking labels to affix to garbage cans. Other than that - what I do is prepare garbage for pickup the night before. Separate cans and bottles from paper and regular household garbage. Call Dept. of Sanitation for pick up of large items or appliances. Use Blue bags for recyclable items, clear bags for loose paper, black bags for household garbage. Flatten and tie up cardboard boxes. Ask Dept. of Sanitation for chart explaining exactly how to recycle; educate tenants about how this is accomplished and what days garbage is picked up.
NATHANIEL


Question #16: I am a licensed real estate broker in NYC. Please help. How can I find a listing of available section 8 apartments? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer:


Question #14: NexTel just finished installing Cell Phone antennas, GPS's, and other equipment on the building in which I'm Superintendent. The tenants have health concerns, and a tenant has handed out data sheets to all the other tenants in the building. I don't know if the data is correct; but I do know it is frightening. How can I get accurate info on this topic? Click here to post your answer to this question

ANSWER: I have been searching for information on the danger of radiation from electronic devices on the room of your building, without success. I do believe, as a non-expert, that, with proper shielding on the roof, the transmission of radiation to tenants below would be zero.

If you have found out anything definitive about the problem, I would much appreciate it and relay it to the housing community.


Question #7: I'm writing an article for the Aug. 13 Daily News "lifelines" section on renting in NYC. One thing every renter hears a lot in NYC is to ask supers about vacancies in their buildings. 

Does anyone out there have experience with tenants approaching you? Is it a worthwhile thing to do? As supers, how would you recommend a relative go about finding an affordable apartment in NYC, with no fee? Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: There are few supers who have not been asked if there is a vacancy in his building. One savvy person told me that the way to find an apartment is to print up cards with name and telephone number and hand them to doormen, supers, etc. in every building in a neighborhood he/she is interested in. However, the method is really not "free" because if you are notified, you will be expected to offer a reward.
Dick Koral


Question #4: How do you keep track of maintenance that has taken place in the building and when services are interrupted? For example, when the water is turned off, when there is no hot water or if the electricity is turned off. Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Keep day to day maintenance log of all work in building including the turning off of water in building. 


Question #3: This is for my own personal use. Is it necessary to run your disposal for a matter of a few minutes when you dispose food particles. I never dispose of peelings or chunks, but only to rinse off dinnerware. My husbands insists I run it a full minute or so. Please help solve this argument.  Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Your husband is right on the one minute rinse of particles - the reason for this is that a clearing time is necessary for a full flush of particles. 

Question #2: For small brownstone buildings, under 10 units, how much responsibility should a super have regarding apartment keys? Would it be appropriate for the super to have access to the keys to let tenants in after business hours for a fee? Please consider that the super does not live in the building. Thank you. -Tony Click here to post your answer to this question

Answer: Many tenants don't want the super to have their key. When they do, the key is inserted in a small envelope, sealed, tenant signs over the seal, so that if there is a burglary, the super can show he is innocent. As for after hours, that's got to be a special arrangement between the tenants and the super. A tip or fee may be called for, unless annual tips are generous. -Dick Koral

Answer: To add to Mr. Koral's answer, a super should always keep in mind the building owner / board / policies. Therefore you should consult the owner or board or agent first, before you seek financial gain from any performance. It can avoid your being fired.

Answer: I think the Super should have access to the Tenant's apartment keys. In his apartment or secure place in the building ( Workshop or basement).

The keys should be coded so that only the super or management can tell where the keys fit. I don't think there should be a charge for this service.
Nathaniel