Q. I live in an enormous co-op in the West Village. The central air conditioning has not been working properly, and the building management turned it off 22 times this summer. One day, the building management gave us only a 30 minute warning. They shut off the air conditioning for good early in September due to damage done to the cooling system, despite high temperatures and humidity. Can we hire a different management company or take other steps? We pay a high monthly maintenance fee and this has been very frustrating.
A: Is the co-op’s management company — also known as the managing agent — aware of the problem, and is it being addressed? If not, the co-op’s board of directors should respond to complaints from the shareholders and take action.
“There needs to be transparency on the part of the co-op board and the managing agent as to why there was spotty service throughout the summer,” said Debra J. Guzov, a real estate lawyer in Manhattan. The board is responsible for addressing any problems that arise. Your managing agent should bring in an engineer or reputable heating-and-cooling company to inspect the air-conditioning equipment and identify the problem.
Meanwhile, you should take a look at the co-op’s proprietary lease, bylaws and house rules, to see if there are any dates listed for when shareholders should expect the air-conditioning to be active. This information will help you to make a stronger case for your board. Ronald H. Gitter is a real estate attorney who specializes in co-ops and condos. He said that finding the right managing agent or assigned property manager can be a difficult task. If a service provider does not do its job correctly, nothing will improve. The building may not have the money to make repairs and investigate the problem. Sign up for weekly emails on real estate news.