Co-op Maintenance Fees Are On The Rise


Making up 75% of all housing stock in New York, Co-ops are the most common type of housing excluding rentals.  The average co-op maintenance fee in New York City climbed 19% from 2009 to 2010 to $1.76 per square foot per month, according to Miller Samuel, a Manhattan-based appraisal company that tracks maintenance costs.

Maintenance fees  usually cover debt service for the underlying mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, personnel and other items.  These fees are usually apportioned per share of stock in the corporation, and are in addition to the owner’s individual mortage (if any).  A review of a co-op’s financial documents will give you the breakdown on the expenses.

What’s behind this increase?

  • Property Taxes:  New York City Property Tax revenue increased 9.68% in 2009 according to the NYC Department of Finance.
  • Utility costs:  Natural Gas and heating oil costs continue to increase. Water costs are up slightly.
  • Building Staff. Salary and benefits, usually renegotiated under union contracts every two to 3 years. 
  • Insurance Costs:  Varies by building and location, usually covering liability and disaster damages
  • Building upkeep, including major repairs to plumbing, electrical, heating and the roof.

What can the Board do?

  • Cancel or delay discretionary projects
  • Request several estimates for upcoming projects.
  • Refinance underlying mortgages.
  • Impliment a flip tax.

When faced with rising costs, there is little a co-op board can do but pass the costs throught to the shareholders as either increased maintenance fees or temporary (or permenant) assessments.  The decision to raise maintenance fees ultimately rests with the co-op boards.

Inspired by Smart Money article by Annamaria Androitis.

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