New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
Ideas don't get much more evergreen than this perennial staple: a new bill before the New York City Council would strip co-op boards of one of their most cherished powers — the freedom to reject potential buyers for "any reason or no reason" — and would instead require them to spell out in writing their reasons for rejecting a purchase application.
The bill, introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, requires a co-op that rejects a buyer to produce in writing each element of the purchase application that was deemed deficient, as well as the source of any negative information that led to the rejection. "The statement must convey sufficient information to enable a prospective purchaser to take specific steps to remedy any specific deficiencies in that application," the bill states. Boards will have to produce the written statement within five days of the rejection. Penalties for violations will range from $1,000 to $25,000.
The pushback from the co-op community has been as predictable as the filing of the bill. "The legislators are treating the co-op volunteers as if they were paid landlords," Marc Luxemberg, president of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums, tells Brick Underground. He calls the proposed changes an "outrageous intrusion into the functioning of boards" that's designed to "discourage co-op boards from turning people down."
Geoffrey Mazel, legal counsel for the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council, adds that the proposed fines are "punitive" and "outrageous."
Williams has introduced two related bills. One is designed to ensure timely action on purchase applications, by giving co-op boards 45 days to notify potential buyers of the success or failure of their application, with provisions for a 14-day extension if necessary. The second bill would require any cooperative corporation to disclose its finances to a prospective purchaser whose offer to purchase an apartment has been accepted. The financial information would have to be provided within 14 days of a request by the prospective purchaser.
Mazel notes that there's a lot of momentum in the current city council for progressive causes. But, he adds, "the people they'll be hurting — the co-op owners of New York City — for the most part are working- and middle-class people."
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