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My Co-op Is Charging Renovation Fees. Can It Do That?

Category: Finance,Real Estate

Ask Real Estate

No one wants to pay a monthly fee for fix-ups, but the truth is, New Yorkers already face a mountain of charges to renovate their apartments.

CreditCreditNadia Pillon
Ronda Kaysen

Q: Our Upper West Side co-op board has quietly, and without consulting shareholders, implemented a $1,000-per-month fee for every month an apartment is being renovated. The board approved the fee two years ago, and information about it was mentioned in passing at an annual meeting with shareholders this spring. When a shareholder questioned whether co-op buildings in New York could even do this, the managing agent said, “Everyone’s doing it.” But I surveyed friends in other Manhattan co-ops and none had heard of such a fee. Is it true that other buildings are really doing this?

A: As renovations become more extensive and more common, buildings are stepping up efforts to protect the overall property and mitigate some of the neighbors’ misery by adding fees, like the one your building now charges.

These fees are meant to cover the ancillary costs of renovations. Maybe the job is forcing the building to hire additional staff, or pay overtime to existing workers. Neighbors may have to tolerate dust, noise and the general headache of living next to construction. The service elevator may be tied up with crews carrying materials up and down.

“Some alterations go on for a long time,” said Phyllis H. Weisberg, the co-chairwoman of the cooperative and condominium law practice in the New York City office of the law firm Montgomery McCracken. “As alterations become more complicated, you tend to see more of this.”

Such a fee might be flat or it might be monthly, weekly or charged on a sliding scale that increases over time.

These types of fees are levied in addition to the mountain of other charges that apartment-dwellers pay to do renovations in New York. The co-op may also charge cleaning fees, late fees and a security deposit. If the building’s architect or engineer reviews the plans, expect a bill for their time. Same for the managing agent, who probably has to file paperwork. Inspectors may need to be paid. If the work requires city permits, expect to pay for those, too.

The fees the co-op charges should be detailed in every resident’s alteration agreement. Read it carefully, and hire a lawyer to review it if you’re planning renovations. But of course, hiring a lawyer means paying yet another fee.

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A version of this article appears in print on , on Page RE2 of the New York edition with the headline: Wait Just a Minute. I Have to Pay A Fee for Renovating My Own Place?. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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