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Our co-op is facing expensive repairs because of damage from tree roots. Are the shareholders responsible for the cost?

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My co-op has discovered tree roots that have breached the roof of our underground garage, and is proposing a five-year assessment to cover the costs of dealing with it. Since these problems are outside the building and are a pre-existing issue, do the shareholders have any options for forgoing the financial responsibility of this assessment?


Unfortunately, since the garage is considered part of the co-op (rather than a separate entity), you and the other shareholders will likely shoulder the financial responsibility for the repairs, say our experts.

"The co-op-owned garage's repairs are part and parcel of the building," explains Douglas Elliman Property Management's Thomas Usztoke, and can be paid by shareholders either through (extra) maintenance charges, special assessment, or financing options.

A possible exception could be if the co-op has retained a third-party garage management company, which has some kind of maintenance provision in its contract with your building. 

Barring that, you and your fellow shareholders will have to grit your teeth and shell out for the assessment. On the plus side, says Usztoke, if your garage has created any revenue stream over the years, that means it may have offset your maintenance charges in some fashion, anyway, (in other words, lowered your monthly costs), so overall, the garage is still financially a net positive for you and the building.

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