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The Roommate Fee

May 30, 2012 — On today’s episode, our attorney panel investigates an innovative attempt at creating a new stream of income for a co-op: charging shareholders a fee if they want to bring in roommates. Our questioner, Harlem co-op board vice president Gerry Magpily, is weighing this option in his building and comes to Habitat’s podcast to ask if such a fee would be legal.

Well, it turns out that the answer to the question of whether a board can charge shareholders for having roommates depends on whether the shareholder is allowed to have a roommate in the first place – but not in the way you might think. To sort out this deceptively complex matter, our attorneys wade into the surprisingly murky issue of what a roommate actually is in the eyes of the law, when a roommate becomes a subtenant (or even something else entirely), and the similarities between having a roommate and getting away with murder. On the panel this week are Marcie Waterman Murray of Tane Waterman & Wurtzel and Joel Miller of Miller & Miller.

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