Aug 9, 2019

Statutory Changes Affecting Cooperatives and Condominium Unit Owners

New York rent laws - Condos & Co-ops

The sweeping changes in New York’s rent laws that were passed by the Legislature and signed into law on June 14, 2019, have been widely reported. While these changes will have a substantial, if not drastic, effect on conventional rental housing, they are largely irrelevant as far as the operations of cooperatives and condominiums are concerned.  The legislation that made changes to the rent laws also made a number of changes to other laws that do affect cooperatives and condominium unit owners. Among these changes are the following: Under a change in the NY General Obligations Law, security deposits and rent… Read more

Mar 1, 2017

Cooperative Transfers to Family Members

Cooperative Building

Cooperative Directors and Managers: The New York Court of Appeals recently issued its decision in the case of Del Terzo v. 33 Fifth Avenue, which had been moving through the New York courts for four and a half years. The decision is significant because it establishes statewide limitations on the exercise of board discretion in many cooperatives insofar as reviewing the applications of family members to acquire apartments following the death of a lessee. At issue in Del Terzo was the application of a proprietary lease provision providing that after the death of the lessee “consent shall not be unreasonably… Read more

Oct 25, 2016

Update on Short-Term Rentals

happy young couple opening door and welcoming friends apartment

On October 21st, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that allows fines to be imposed on persons who advertise short-term rentals such as those commonly marketed through Airbnb and similar services. The penalties available are $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation and $7,500 for third and subsequent violations. Airbnb challenged the validity of the law almost immediately in federal court but, unless its enforcement is enjoined or it is struck down, it will remain in effect. As we discussed in our prior memorandum dated March 4, 2015, titled “Occupants”, New York State law bans the… Read more

Sep 2, 2016

Directors and Officers Insurance—Some Pitfalls

Business Meeting

In recent instances, a number of boards that have come to us for representation have been chagrinned to discover that their insurance policies for directors and officers liability (“D&O”) did not fully cover claims by shareholders or unit owners. The result has been anxiety for board members, litigation expense for the building that would have been avoidable, and conflicts with the managing agent who had worked with a broker to place the insurance. It is important for board members and managing agents to understand the terms of D&O policies at the time they are purchased. All D&O insurance is not… Read more

May 3, 2016

Access to Adjoining Property During Construction

Construction Worker

Just about every cooperative and condominium in New York City will at some point need access to a neighboring property to be able to do work on its building or will be asked to provide access for its neighbors to allow them to do work on their building.[1]  The intrusion may be minimal – like putting protective planking on a roof – or extensive and disruptive – such as erecting scaffolding, closing off courtyards or terraces, or causing significant noise or vibration.  What do you do?  What can you do? The basic rules are pretty simple.  The property owner who… Read more

Mar 7, 2016

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke from Ashtray

Over the past few years a number of our clients have asked about the legal implications of secondhand smoke in their buildings. The law on the issue has been largely unsettled.  However, boards and property managers should be aware of a clearly emerging trend of imposing liability on cooperative and condominium boards that permit smokers to subject their neighbors to secondhand smoke.  This trend is highlighted by a recent decision in the case of Reinhard v. Connaught Tower Corp., a lawsuit brought in the New York State Supreme Court for Manhattan. The plaintiff in the Reinhard case had purchased a… Read more

Mar 4, 2015


Packing to Move

Our clients frequently ask questions concerning what occupants are allowed in a cooperative or condominium apartment. The answer is very situation-specific and depends on four sets of rules: (i) the governing documents of the building – principally the by-laws for a condominium and the proprietary lease for a cooperative, (ii) New York state’s “Roommate Law”, (iii) state and city laws involving short-term occupancies, and (iv) federal, state and city anti-discrimination laws. Cooperatives’ proprietary leases usually limit occupancy to the lessee and the lessee’s “immediate family” and domestic employees unless board permission is granted for other occupants. In both cooperatives and… Read more

Aug 7, 2014

More on Mold

man coughing

In a recent decision, the New York State Court of Appeals[1] has resolved conflicting lower court decisions we have reported in previous memoranda[2] and raised the bar for the successful prosecution of claims based on alleged injury from mold.  Although cooperatives and condominiums will still be subject to such claims, the Court made clear that the claims should be judged based on the strict application of the evidentiary rules applicable to expert scientific evidence.[3]  In the case before it, the Court dismissed the claim because the evidentiary requirements had not been satisfied. The decision reviewed the two casual determinations required… Read more

Dec 28, 2012

Is the Board Liable When a Worker on an Apartment Alteration Project is Injured?

OSHA's Silica Exposure Standard

If a worker employed in an apartment owner’s alteration project is injured due to some lapse in safety practices or equipment on the job, is the condominium or cooperative liable under New York’s Labor Law? Unfortunately, a decision of the New York Court of Appeals earlier this month, Guryev v. Tomchinsky, __ N.Y.2d __ (Dec. 11, 2012), addressed this issue by distinguishing between cooperatives and condominiums in a way that makes little intuitive sense. New York’s Labor Law, §241 requires, generally, that “All contractors and owners and their agents, except owners of one and two family dwellings who contract for… Read more

Nov 7, 2012

Hurricane Sandy – Do you need a public adjuster?

Damaged Hardwood Flooring

If your building suffered significant damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the Board should consider whether to engage a qualified “Public Adjuster” to assist it in compiling and settling any resulting insurance claims, such as claims for property damage, lost business or damages arising from equipment breakdowns or failures. Any decision to utilize the services of a Public Adjuster should be made and acted upon as soon after the loss as possible. Public Adjusters represent insureds, and are to be distinguished from an adjuster hired by an insurance carrier, whose principal responsibility is to represent the carrier in dealing… Read more