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Who pays to replaster my ceiling after a leak?

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Q. The recent Nor'easter caused a leak in my bedroom.  Is my co-op responsible for both the plastering and re-painting or only the plastering?

A. The general rule, says Michael Donuk, a property manager at Argo Management, is that under most proprietary leases and offering plans, the building must plaster and prime the walls to “paint-ready” condition.

“The shareholder is usually responsible for the finish, whether it’s painting, wallpaper or tiling,” says Dan Wurtzel, president of Cooper Square Realty.

However, the building might not be responsible for plastering and priming if your ceiling was altered from its original condition—such as by building a dropped ceiling or installing sheetrock, says property manager Michael Wolfe of Midboro Management.

“The caveat to this is if the co-op was negligent and didn’t take action to fix a known leak source,” says Wolfe.

Though “paint-ready” is the operative phrase in most buildings, in practice some co-ops will go the extra step and do the painting too, says Joseph Shkreli, a resident manager who has worked in co-op buildings.

"Most buildings have relationships with painters, so they have them there almost every day and they do it," says Manhattan real estate attorney C. Jaye Berger. 

Upper West Side board member Nadeen Peterson says that in her co-op, “The staff often does the whole job for which the tenant ‘tips’ for repainting and pays for the paint.  It’s less hassle than hirng outside contractors. But tenants with ornate painting/trim etc., go for the pros.”

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