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Saving money on a building's legal services.

Routine legal matters such as recouping arrears can eat up the operating budget at your co-op corporation, condominium association, or rental building. To help reduce such costs, we recently established an in-house department that offers a limited menu of legal services. Staffed by experienced real estate counsel, the department is able to produce such items as 3- and 10-day notices to cure and court petitions for about half of what a law firm might charge.

The department has already helped a significant number of buildings in our portfolio. When several shareholders at a 1,150-unit Queens cooperative fell months behind on their maintenance payments, for example, the board first considered contacting its attorney, then found it could achieve the same results for less by allowing Elm to handle it.

The legal department is not intended to replace your building's attorney, but to augment his or her services. We do not propose to take on substantial litigation, and we will always steer boards to their attorneys if there is any question of a conflict of interest.

When it comes to collections and dealing with tenants, however, we offer several advantages. Our intimate knowledge of your building's daily operations allows us to generate creative solutions to some arrears problems. At the Queens building, for instance, we knew that several of the defaulting tenants had parking spaces in the co-op's garage. We sent them letters stating that if they did not pay their arrears, they would lose their parking privileges. The result: They paid.

We also know your building's tenants, and that can help in negotiations. In one building where a tenant and the board had a disagreement, we were able to appeal to both parties and negotiate an out-of-court settlement, saving the: co-op thousands in legal fees.

The lower cost of our service can be a measure of relief to cooperatives, condominiums, and rental properties that send out scores of notices each year to collect chronic tenant arrears. In this tough economy, when some buildings, find themselves sending out several notices a month, savings can add up quickly.

Having an attorney at your command also speeds up the collections process. If a board of directors needs a three-day notice sent, we'll generate one and send it out the same day. Other management companies first have to give the information to the building's law firm, which may have hundreds of other notices to handle, perhaps delaying your efforts.

The department even provides an extra pair of eyes for legal documents and contracts. Rather than taking on the expense of hiring another outside attorney for a second opinion - or calling on a board member who may have legal experience in a field other than real estate - buildings can get a free review from an attorney who specializes in real estate. That can save thousands in legal fees that result from mistakes and oversights.

Arrears and disputes are facts of life in co-ops, condos, and rental buildings. But they don't have to cost you an arm and a leg. And because many law firms would rather not be in the business of doing the routine paperwork anyway, our service works best for everyone involved.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Zabinsky, Arnold
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 28, 1992
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