Co-Op & Condo Relief

Condominiums and cooperatives are among the largest sources of housing in New York City and even more so in Manhattan.  New York has about 370,000 cooperative apartments (with maybe 1,000,000 or more persons) and many thousands more with shared-ownership (Mitchell-Lama cooperatives, condominiums and similar).  {NYC Cooperative Community Organization}.  Most New Yorkers who live in these apartments are happy and content.  However, for some living in a co-op or condo can become a nightmare.

At the center of this unfortunate reality are wanton abuses by co-op boards.  The victims of this pattern of absurd behavior are co-op shareholders; widespread allegations of fraud, intimidation, embezzlement, and harassment have plagued New York’s co-op board shareholders for years.  Exacerbating this bleak reality is the fact that absolutely no concrete legislation exists to protect co-op shareholders from the whims of their respective co-op boards.

  1. Mandate that co-op boards disclose all pertinent decisions regarding tenants in a maximum of 45 days. There are currently no limits or stipulations regarding how long a co-op board must notify a shareholder of pertinent information regarding renovation requests, requests to rent out their space, sale, etc.
  2. Push legislation which stipulates that, in a situation in which a co-op board forces a resident out of his or her space or does not allow the owner’s beneficiary to inherit, the board in question must monetarily compensate the individual either 10% more than the market value of his or her living space or pay the remainder of said individual’s mortgage, whichever payment is higher.
  3. Dictate that all co-op and condo boards post financial statements on the Internet.
  4. Create a co-op review board panel to investigate shareholder grievances and solve them in an equitable manner. This entity would be composed of three members, one chosen randomly, one by the board, and one by the shareholders, and would change members based upon the issue being investigated.
  5. Push for legislation that states that co-op or condo owners who live and use their apartments as their addresses of record will have their tax rates reduced to the same rates as those that own houses in New York.
  6. Mandate that all co-op and condo boards must have three signatories on any expenses. They shall be the president and treasurer and another rotating board member. This is to prevent corruption from boards that have been controlled over the long term by the same people.  By rotating in a different board member every year, there should be more transparency.
  7. When repairs, new construction, or any other service is contracted by the co-op board by using a company that is owned by a board member or a relative of a board member, then they must have at least three other estimates from other potential contractors in a letter of justification of why they chose a company where nepotism can be claimed.

When our fellow citizens purchase real estate for their primary residence, it is usually the largest expense they’ll ever incur.  It’s incumbent upon our government to protect from unscrupulous co-op boards the homeowners who buy co-ops and condos.