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HP

Westmoreland Association, Inc.


O RG A N IZED 1917 & I N CO R PO R A TED 1924
nd

251-31 42 Avenue, Little Neck, NY 11363


718-224-7256
www.LittleNeck.net/W estmoreland
westmorelandassn@ aol.com

Walter Mugdan
President
Victor Dadras
Vice President
Gary Savage
Treasurer
Charles Manna
Secretary

January 30, 2016

DIRECTORS:
David Diaz
Peter Reinharz
Robert Timmerman
Philip Toscano

Dear Councilman Vallone:

Hon. Paul Vallone


New York City Council
42-40 Bell Boulevard, Suite 507
Bayside, NY 11361

We are grateful for your efforts on behalf of homeowners associations like ours
that represent neighborhoods protected by restrictive covenants. We applauded
your Intro 280, which would have required the Department of Buildings to
maintain a publicly available registry of such covenants contained in property
deeds.
We were initially pleased by your January 18, 2016 announcement of an
agreement with the Department of Finance to create such a registry. But we were
extremely disappointed when we had a chance to review the proposed DOF form
through which information for the registry would be submitted. The form is so
burdensome as to make the entire process almost useless. Specifically the form
requires documentation which will be very difficult and/or expensive for any
homeowners association to gather and submit.
1.
Section II of the form requires that the Borough, Block and Lot number of
each affected parcel be reported. This is completely reasonable, and is an
eminently manageable burden. However, the form then goes on to require that the
property's "legal description" be attached. We understand this to mean the metes
and bounds description of each affected property as contained in the actual deed
for that property. Gathering this information for the hundreds of properties
protected by covenants in any given neighborhood would be extraordinarily
burdensome and expensive. More to the point, it serves no useful purpose! The
only purpose for the registry is to alert potential buyers or developers or builders
of the existence of the covenants. The legal metes and bounds description of the
property adds nothing of any value to that exercise. All it does is make it nearly
impossible for the homeowners association to populate the registry. In short, this
requirement alone fatally undermines the whole plan, which was very simple in its
conception.

2.
Section III of the form requires the Liber, Reel and Page where the restrictive covenants
for the parcel are located. The same Section goes on to require that a copy of the document that
established the covenants be attached. It appears that what is demanded here is the original deed
for each subject property when the covenants were first imposed. Once again, this requirement
puts the entire process effectively out of reach of most homeowners associations. In our
Westmoreland community, for example, the original subdivision and sale of the parcels in
question took place a century ago. Over 300 properties in our neighborhood are subject to the
covenants. An enormous amount of research would be needed to gather this information for each
such parcel.
I reiterate that this excessive documentation is not necessary to effectuate the legitimate
objectives of your Intro 280. The purpose of the registry is simply to put people on notice that
covenants exist. Their own title search companies should provide them the detailed information.
(Of course, the title search companies should be identifying the existence of the covenants
independent of the registry, but in our experience this does not always happen.) The DOF form
effectively seeks to transfer the burden of doing a proper title search from the landowner or
developer to the homeowners association; this is unacceptable.
One further concern is that the registry would be maintained by DOF, rather than the Department
of Buildings as we originally proposed and as your Introl 280 would require. This, too,
undermines the purpose of the registry. Most would-be developers or homeowners planning
additional construction will necessarily visit the DOB website; they will have far less reason to
visit the DOF website. That is why we suggested that the registry be maintained by DOB, and
that there be a clear, simple flag on the DOB property record to alert persons to the existence of
the covenants. (If the DOF insists on being the agency to maintain the registry, then the DOB
website should provide a notice of that fact and a link to the registry.)
We could not be more disappointed by the City administrations response to your efforts. We
respectfully request that you work further with DOF and DOB to achieve a reasonable, effective
and efficient registry that includes a flag in the DOB database.
Sincerely,

Walter Mugdan
President
cc:

Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association


Douglas Manor Association