Month: March 2015

Where There’s Smoke … Developing Sound Fire-Safety Policies

Where There’s Smoke …

Developing Sound Fire-Safety Policies

By Keith Loria

In January, a couple was caught in an apartment fire at the Strand Condominium on West 43rd Street in Manhattan. One person died, and the other suffered serious smoke inhalation. The tragic situation could have been even worse; other residents complained afterward that they were confused about what to do in the case of a fire in their building.

Sadly, according to a spokesperson at the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), this is not an uncommon occurrence when major fires break out in multifamily buildings. It’s not so much that those in charge don’t have a set of emergency plans in place, but that those plans are often not adequately communicated with residents.

Fire Facts

Improved smoke alarms, mandatory sprinkler systems, and cutting-edge, flame-resistant building materials have all helped to reduce the frequency of deadly apartment fires in the last few decades, but fires do still happen. And whether they’re minor blazes in private kitchens or four-alarm infernos like the one at the Strand, the main concern of anyone in any building is to get themselves, their families and their neighbors out safely.

According to the FDNY, the top five causes of accidental fires are electrical, smoking-related, faulty appliances, careless cooking, and open flames such as candles or matches that get out of hand. Carmelo Milio, director of property management for Trion Real Estate Management in Yonkers says that in addition to the big five that the FDNY lists, space heaters and linty dryer vents are also big fire hazards in condos.

Because of these risks, “In the New York City metro area, we are required to install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in all dwelling units,” he says. “All residents should always have a fire extinguisher and operating smoke detector in their unit.”

Georgia Lombardo-Barton, president of Manhattan-based Barton Management LLC, says that because overheating or obstructed electrical cords are the number-one source of co-op or condo fires, it’s far safer to plug cords directly into outlets, rather than using extension cords or multi-cord outlet expanders.

“Residents shouldn’t use extension cords for hair dryers, fans, or large appliances. Rather, use extension cords or multiple outlet extensions for powering a computer or charging a phone,” Lombardo-Barton says. “Keeping an apartment clutter free, especially near outlets and kitchen areas, is another form of fire prevention. If a fire starts in any location in the apartment, it will feed on clutter and continue to spread. This situation will only impede firefighters from controlling the fire and can spread it to neighboring units.”

Lombardo-Barton adds that management should also contact social services or next-of-kin if certain residents demonstrate hording tendencies, as this type of situation vastly increases both the risk of fire and the damage it can cause to life and property.

A Plan in Place

Enid Hamelin, director of Manhattan-based management firm Halstead Lawrence Properties, says that because of the Strand fire, new legislation is in the works to make stricter mandatory rules regarding evacuation planning and communication but nothing is firm at this time. What is in place is a rule that requires fire evacuation rules to be posted conspicuously in the building.

“What saves people’s lives is reading the instructions that are laid out,” Hamelin says. “If a managing agent should do anything, it’s to make sure that the literature is distributed and indicate how important it is to read it.”

This is not to say that there aren’t any laws covering fire safety. In 1999, the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC) helped enact Local Law 10, which required the Fire Commissioner to promote rules regarding fire safety plans and notification. Rule 3 RCNY Section 43-01 took effect more than a decade ago and it provides detailed instructions and…


Managing Commercial Tenants-Benefits, Drawbacks and Considerations

Managing Commercial Tenants

Benefits, Drawbacks and Considerations

By W.B. King

While having goods and services like retail stores, banks and dry cleaners on-site can be convenient and viewed as a positive by co-op or condo unit owners and neighbors, not every commercial tenant is a good fit for every community or HOA. Leasing space to the right businesses—and really understanding the nature of the association/commercial tenant relationship—is key to a successful, mutually beneficial arrangement between the two parties.

Understand the Basics…

For boards and managers, the biggest issue is often misunderstanding the nature of the relationship between the business owner and the association.

“One of the biggest mistakes I have seen is where boards are so understandably excited about the new revenue that they fail to put the team together and ask questions prior to the tenant being found and instead wait until the tenant is found,” says New Bedford Management CEO Peter von Simson.

Eric Goidel, a senior partner at the Manhattan-based law firm Borah Goldstein Altschuler Nahins & Goidel, P.C., explains that condominiums rarely own commercial space, whereas a cooperative may own or control the allotted space or will own the building and lease the property. If the commercial unit is a common element owned by the association, the association is the landlord; however, a more likely scenario is that the sponsor or developer reserved a long-term master lease of the commercial space.

“If the co-op is the landlord of the property and the sponsor/developer is the tenant—they in turn sublet the space to commercial users,” says Goidel. “In the condominium, the residential and commercial units are owned by a deed and fee and typically it’s rare, if ever, that the condominium controls any of the commercial space.”

The Ideal Tenant

After a board determines its relationship to the space in question, one of the next questions is what type of business will be the best fit. In many cases, five year leases or longer are executed. Therefore if the board does have control over the space it becomes incumbent to not only consider the needs of unit owners, but of neighbors as well.

“An ideal tenant is someone that has a good reputation in their industry, financially qualified to lease or buy the space and a tenant that compliments the needs of the homeowners,” says Carmelo Milio, CPM and director of property management for Trion Real Estate Management, with offices in Yonkers and New York City.

Boards and managers usually look to the perceived benefits that a commercial tenant might offer, which normally has a fiscal implication; however it’s not always a prudent approach. “One of the biggest mistakes is not enough due diligence when screening a few applicant or reviewing the lease requirements,” says Milio. “We recommend that an attorney review the lease and amends it so that the board and management are covered in the event of a loss.”

While banks, drug stores and dry cleaners are usually viewed as favorable tenants as opposed to a bar or restaurant, if a board does have control of the commercial space it’s suggested to not only look at the amount of rent received—but also take a longer view.

“The co-op or condominium will be relying on this cash flow to defray the cost of managing the rest of the property,” says Goidel. “The question is: are they willing to trade income for a tenant that better serves their residents rather than a tenant that is willing to pay a higher rent? Some of these boards get razzle-dazzled by some of the numbers that are thrown around for rent.”

For inexperienced board members, the role of landlord can be vexing, as the nature of a commercial tenancy is different than a residential tenancy. In these cases, having experienced oversight is critical as well as listening to resident concerns, especially those living on the lower floors.

“Because a commercial space is such a large asset for a…

TRION Management Adds Three Residential Complexes to its Westchester County Real Estate Management Portfolio

TRION Real Estate Management Adds Three Residential Complexes to its Westchester County Real Estate Management Portfolio

Trion Adds 40 Townhouse-Style Condominium Units in White Plains, 84 Luxury Condominiums in Bronxville, and 137 Luxury Cooperatives in Peekskill

Trion Real Estate Management, a tri-state area leader in full service property management headquartered in Yonkers, NY, is now managing three new residential complexes in Westchester, bringing its real estate management portfolio to over 1,700 units throughout 26 properties. The Trion team was selected to take over the management of Whiteoak Condominiums in White Plains, Boulder Condominiums in Bronxville, and The Commons Cooperative in Peekskill, NY.
“We’re excited about this growth and expansion and look forward to building strong relationships with all our new clients,” said Carmelo Milio, CPM, President of Trion Real Estate Management.

Trion Real Estate Management was selected to take over the management of the 40 townhouse-style condominium units at Whiteoak Condominium at 36 Greenridge Avenue in the heart of White Plains. The Trion team was selected because of its proven track record managing and improving communication with owners, and with increasing the efficiency of the daily management of housing units.

“We’ve already created a great team environment within the condo board and together, we are on our way to achieving the condo board’s early goals, including plans to increase energy efficiency and to review all current contracts to ensure we are getting 1st in class service at a great rate,” said Milio.

Trion has also taken over the management of the 84 luxury condominiums at Boulder Condominium at 1133 Midland Avenue in Bronxville. The Trion team was selected to improve communications with the owners, board, and union maintenance staff. Trion plans to help guide the board as they improve the rules and regulations of the association, and to implement a work order and a purchase order system to help lower expenses while increasing the level of service for the residents. Trion’s main construction goal for 2015 is to upgrade the landscaping and update the security system onsite.

Trion is also the new managing agent of 137 luxury cooperatives at The Commons at 1879 Crompond Road in Peekskill. The Trion team was selected to improve communications between management and the residents as well as implement policies to help reduce cost and to ultimately create a team environment onsite with the union staff, board members and management

“This growth comes from our track record of successful real estate management,” said Milio. “We’ve recently expanded our main office and grown our staff because of this growth. One of our newest innovations enables residents to make payments and to submit maintenance requests using an online platform.”

Trion Real Estate Management is a leading full-service property management company with a portfolio that exceeds more than 1,700 co-op, condo and rental units under management throughout New York City and the Tri-State area for over 35 years. Trion offers a complete range of services including property management, maintenance and leasing. For more information, contact or visit us on Facebook at