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Adding A Name to A Lease

Holly: Our lease allows the apartment to pass – or be gifted – to a family member without any approval. I am wondering about just adding a name – i.e., if two parents own the unit and want to add an adult child to the lease and stock certificate. Anyone know about this? The lease does not restrict this but there may be another reason we do not yet know about. (And yes, we asked a lawyer, but the answer was vague.)

Dax: I can empathize with your attorney for being vague. Much depends on what the cooperative documents say or don’t say. For example, if the cooperative documents are silent about adding a co-member, the cooperative may take the position of requiring any person applying to be added to an occupancy agreement (proprietary lease) and share to pass the same requirements as any other person making an application for membership.

On the other hand, we know one co-op that adopted a simple and expedited application process for adding a person to the occupancy agreement/share if that person lives violation-free with the current member’s household in the respective unit for a year or more.

To obtain clarification on the issue, would discussing this matter with your board or management firm be appropriate?

Holly: They may take a position, but I think it may be ambiguous. Family members do not have to be approved. Thoughts?

Dax: If family members don’t need approval, and unless there is some other procedural obstacle involved, shouldn’t your request be placed in a formal writing and submitted to your board? Do you or your attorney anticipate a problem or potential problem with such a request?

JG in NYC: In my co-op, we vet the person as if they were looking to purchase. In the event the current shareholder should pass away or move out, we need to know that this person can carry the mortgage, maintenance, etc., in lieu of the current shareholder.

Steve-Inwood: I am a co-op president in Inwood, in Manhattan. I would never just add a name to a lease. There are too many kooks out there. Let me turn this on the other foot – would you want to live in a building where screening procedures were relaxed? Would you want to raise your family there? I would think most co-op buyers would say no. Just have them apply like everyone else does.

Holly: Hi Steve – the lease allows the apartment to be passed to a family member without any vetting. Also [to] a domestic partner. This question was specifically in regards to adding an immediate family member like an adult child – in this case, the family member has been living in the apartment a long time.

Chartles Harper: If the parents want to add their child to the stock certificate, it would have to go through the building’s attorney, who would have to issue a new stock certificate with the names of all parties on the stock certificate. As for the lease, if they are a shareholder, their proprietary lease only has the head of household on it. I don’t think the board can do anything about who the shareholder puts on their stock certificate.


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