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Co-op Admissions: An Attorney Gives 5 Quality-of-Life Questions You CAN Ask

Arthur Weinstein in Board Operations on March 28, 2013

New York City

March 28, 2013

 

Do you intend to see patients/clients in our building? 

Probable intention: To find out if you will be operating a home business that will increase commercial traffic in the property.

Supposed subtext: "You're a shrink. You're going to inundate us with crazy people, aren't you?"

Weinstein's approval: "That's a fair question. If somebody is a psychiatrist, you're entitled to say, 'Do you intend to see patients in our building?' because that is a commercial use of the property and that commercial use is properly regulated by the board of directors. I know of one building where a psychiatrist believed in primal scream therapy. The therapy scared the heck out of the neighboring apartments."

 

Do you have a studio in which you practice? Do you intend to practice your instrument in the apartment?

Probable intention: To find out if you will be practicing loud music and disturbing the peace.

Supposed subtext: "You're a rock 'n' roll musician and we hate you."

Weinstein's approval: "You can't discriminate against a musician just because he is a musician, but you can say, 'Do you have a studio in which you practice? Do you intend to practice your instrument in the apartment? Can you show us what your practice schedules are and where you do your practice? We've had tremendous problems with opera singers or even pianists who practice, practice, practice sufficiently to drive their neighbors nuts.'"

 

What are your musical tastes?

Probable intention: To find out if the potential buyer likes heavy metal or classical.

Supposed subtext: "Are you going to be loud? Will you disturb your neighbors?"

Weinstein's approval: "That's a legitimate question. You should follow it up with, 'Tell us about your sound system.' I think you are entitled to know if they have a 300-watt woofer and multiple tweeters that can penetrate the walls of your building and those are not grounds for discrimination claims. Perhaps somebody could argue that he is hard of hearing and therefore requires 300 watts of power, but I don't think that's very likely."

 

Are you a smoker?

Probable intention: To find out if you smoke. 

Supposed subtext: "You're a smoker and will pollute our building." 

Weinstein's approval: "So far, the courts have not said that smoking is a protected addiction or handicap, and many of my buildings are now trying to exclude applicants who are smokers. You may ask the question, 'Are you a smoker?' And even reject on those grounds and say the rejection was based on an accommodation to your residents who may have asthma or other sensitivity to secondhand smoke."

 

Do you think you're going to be getting a storeroom?

Probable intention: To find out if the potential buyer has been misinformed.

Supposed subtext: "You know nothing."

See also 

Three Surprising

Admissions Questions

Boards Can't Ask

Weinstein's approval: "It's critical to try and find out what the buyer thinks he is getting in the building. We find all too frequently the contract between the buyer and seller includes stuff that is just not true. 'Do you think you're going to be getting a storeroom? Do you know that there is a storeroom application list or waiting list of 40 names?' If you flush out and correct those misrepresentations early in the game, that can be helpful. The admissions interview has several functions. One is for the board to find out about the prospective shareholder, and another is to inform the prospective shareholder about building issues and policies that he or she should be aware of. You're finding out about the shareholder and you're letting the shareholder find out about the building."

 

Attorney Arthur I. Weinstein is a solo practitioner and a founder and the vice president of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums.

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