Bill Morris in Co-op/Condo Buyers on December 17, 2019
The power of co-op boards just took another hit. By a 15-1 margin, the Nassau County legislature voted Monday to impose a 15-day deadline on co-op boards to acknowledge receipt of a completed purchase application, then a 45-day deadline to accept or reject the application. Boards that fail to meet the deadlines will be issued a warning for a first offense, a $1,000 fine for a second offense, and a $2,000 fine for each subsequent offense. The new law, which goes into effect immediately, does not require boards to reveal their reasons for rejecting purchase applications.
Ellen Birnbaum, a former co-op board member who represents the Great Neck area, was the lone legislator to vote against the proposal. “The dozens of co-op boards I heard from were all in opposition to it,” Birnbaum tells Habitat. “They felt it doesn’t fight discrimination, and it imposes unrealistic time restraints and onerous fines. They felt the 45-day deadline was too short. I wanted it increased to 60 days, which is what it is in Suffolk and Westchester Counties.”
Her argument failed to sway her colleagues.
Marc Schneider, managing partner at the law firm Schneider Buchel, spoke at the public hearing before Monday’s vote, along with managing agents, another attorney, and half a dozen real estate brokers. “There was no reason for this bill,” Schneider says. “Co-op boards and purchase applicants did not need this legislation. In my opinion, the decision was made to approve it before the public hearing. Where did this bill come from? Of course we know it came from the Long Island Board of Realtors.”
Schneider speculates that the next step will be for Nassau County legislators to demand that co-op boards give their reasons for rejecting a sale. Birnbaum acknowledges, “I have heard people saying they want to include that.”
Before Monday’s lopsided vote, Arnie Drucker, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said: “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 clock is now ticking in Nassau County.
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