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Nassau County Could Require “Timely” Action on Co-op Purchases

Bill Morris in Board Operations on December 13, 2019

Nassau County

Co-op purchase applications, time limits, fines, co-op boards, co-op buyers.

If Nassau County law passes, clock will start ticking on co-op purchase applications.

Dec. 13, 2019

Here we go again. The ongoing battle to speed up the purchase of co-op apartments – fought repeatedly at the local and state levels – will move to Nassau County on Monday, Dec. 16, when the county legislature is expected to vote on a proposal that has a familiar ring to it. 

The proposed law would give co-op boards 15 days to acknowledge the receipt of a completed purchase application, or notify the prospective purchaser of any defects in the application. Boards would then have 15 days to acknowledge receipt of the resubmitted application, or notify the prospective purchaser of any defects. Once a successfully completed package has been accepted, boards will have 45 days to accept or reject it. Boards that fail to meet the deadline will receive a written warning for a first offense, a $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a $2,000 fine for each subsequent offense. 

Similar rules exist in Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland Counties, but attempts to pass statewide legislation have repeatedly failed. 

The Nassau proposal has met with stiff protest from co-op advocates. “This legislation serves no purpose whatsoever and will have a deleterious effect on co-op boards in Nassau County,” the President’s Council of Co-ops and Condos wrote to Nassau County legislator Ellen Birnbaum. The council represents more than 100,000 residential units in metropolitan New York. 

The letter continues: “A vast majority of co-op sales are brought to consummation without any major problems. Perhaps co-op boards do not work fast enough for the brokerage industry, but there are many considerations in the processing of a co-op application, including the interests of the shareholders of the co-op… The co-op board is performing one of its most important tasks – vetting applicants to ensure the quality of life in the co-op.” 

Birnbaum, whose district includes Great Neck, tells Habitat: “As a former co-op resident and board member, I am aware of the procedures related to applications. Following the introduction of this proposal, I have heard from many people who are adamantly opposed to this legislation and deem it unnecessary.” 

Marc Schneider, managing partner at the law firm Schneider Buchel, says, "There's no reason for this bill. We can surmise it's being backed by Realtors, but this is actually going to hurt the people they're tying to help. If a board can't meet the 45-day deadline, it will reject the applicant."

But Arnie Drucker, one of the bill's co-sponsors, counters: "We think it's necessary because co-op boards wield power to impact transactions. In my experience as a real-estate attorney, I've seen transactions delayed by co-op boards. We feel it's not unduly burdensome for boards to operate under certain time constraints."

The Nassau County legislature is scheduled to vote on the matter at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, at 1 p.m. The legislative offices are located at 1550 Franklin Avenue in Mineola.

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