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Having It All

So what can the Super Jefe (a.k.a. the sponsor) do that you can’t?  Everything, or at least anything that really matters in High Rise Society.  Whoever said life was fair. While the specifics may vary from building to building depending on what its documents say, in general, the sponsor is exempt from the rules.

  • NO-Rules--300x223It can sell apartments without board approval, in many cases not even telling those directors till after the fact, if then, with the result that the board may not even know how many apartments the sponsor owns.  And since buying from the sponsor is less of a hassle, it’s at a competitive advantage against resident sellers, especially  in this market where buyers hold sway and banks are gun shy.
  • While you can put a half inch classified in the NY Times that readers have to squint to see, the Super Jefe can place a stand alone announcement in the lobby or even plaster a placard on the side of the building so big it’s visible from blocks away without your contacts.  When one Sutton Place Board recently  told the sponsor to take down its sign, the court said the sponsor could keep it up, giving all the directors an inferiority complex.
  • When you go to sell your apartment, you may have to fork over a flip tax of 3% of the sales price, or more, which in this market could turn a profit into a loss.  But the Super Jefe doesn’t have to pay anything, even though it gets the benefit of all the cash you have to pour in on your way out. Why do you think the rich get richer?
  • You have to abide by the sublease rules, limiting how often and for how long you can rent out, which in this market may be painful.  But usually the sponsor can rent to whoever it wants for however as long it likes without the need to obtain board consent or pay any fees.
  • acro43_01Before you can renovate, you have to agree to jump through every hoop in the alteration agreement, then be lucky enough to find a contractor blessed by the Pope.  All the sponsor has to do is haul in its construction crew and start demolition.  The board at an Upper West Side building tried to put a stop to renovations undertaken to turn a unit into a veterinary clinic without its OK, but the court sided with the sponsor, and said go ahead.
  • But maybe the biggest, if not the most obvious, privilege in lots of buildings is the ability of the Super Jefe to prevent any amendments to the building’s documents so long as it retains any ownership interest.  If you’ve been reading, you know that can help extend the sponsor’s control well beyond its expiration date.  (See: In Control, 1/11/10.)

In case you haven’t figured it out, everyone may be equal under the Constitution, but not under the rules of High Rise Society.  The Super Jefe puts even increasingly powerful boards in their place.  As for the rest of you, well, you’re probably not even on the radar no matter how much you paid for your apartment.

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