Moshe Bobker, Partner, Tane Waterman & Wurtzel
The backstory. An elderly shareholder was causing safety and nuisance issues with her hoarding, and neighbors were complaining about odors and infestation. The board tried to resolve the issue by getting her permission to have the super come in to help her clear things out. But after making some progress, she became unwilling, and the problem continued.
Taking a hard line. The board was trying to avoid litigation but realized it had to be more aggressive and sent a notice of cure, which got no response. We commenced a holdover proceeding to terminate the lease, and the court referred the case to various city agencies to help the woman resolve the problem so she could stay in the apartment. This situation has been pending for a very long time — and in the meantime the neighbors are still complaining — but we finally reached an agreement where she will have someone come in to clean regularly and allow us to inspect the apartment to ensure that it’s being kept in good condition.
The takeaway. Unlike other breaches of the proprietary lease, such as subletting, where it’s a default that’s either cured or not, hoarding is its own kind of animal. Boards should be cognizant that even when the situation seems to get better, the problem is very likely to pop up again. It’s not something that is going to be resolved quickly in a one-time deal. Hindsight is always 20/20, but if the board knew what was going to happen, it might have gotten into litigation much sooner.