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Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

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When Entering an Apartment …

When can a board gain access to shareholders’ apartments? Under the laws of New York, the standard is a reasonable one. In essence, that means if a co-op gives 24 hours’ notice for an inspection or a week’s notice for repairs, the shareholder is obligated to provide access.

This standard is supported by case law. While access is normally not a problem, you often find that it becomes an issue when coupled with other things, such as hoarding, a leak, or an illegal sublet. But it is a problem around which both boards and management need to be very careful. Under the law and the terms of most proprietary leases, a co-op has an absolute right to enter apartments.

However, just like a pedestrian with the right of way, this is a right you should exercise with some caution. I advise clients that forced entry into an apartment should be a last resort. The co-op should make every effort to provide 24 hours’ notice for an inspection or a week’s notice for repairs whenever possible.

However, just like a pedestrian with the right of way, this is a right you should exercise with some caution. I advise clients that forced entry into an apartment should be a last resort. The co-op should make every effort to provide 24 hours’ notice for an inspection or a week’s notice for repairs whenever possible.

The issue to remember when a co-op accesses an apartment is a claim of stolen property. It is not unheard of for people to claim a Rembrandt or a gold coin collection is suddenly missing. So I advise all my co-op clients to have a basic protocol about access that includes having at least two co-op representatives in the apartment and exercising a high level of caution when gaining access to people’s apartments.

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