In a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, a consortium of New York City co-op advocates has urged her to sign a bill that has been sitting on her desk since he assumed office on Aug. 24. The bill, passed by heavy majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, would carve co-ops out of the Tenant Protection Act.
The letter, signed by nine groups and the bill's two sponsors, states: "The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act (HSTPA) of 2019 has had a profound negative impact on co-ops, which were not the intended target of the Act. The egregious error in the original legislation is that it conflates 'commercial landlords' with 'co-op boards'." The letter continues: "Under HSTPA and without the clarifying language offered by this bill, co-ops face new expenses and restrictions that will continue to negatively impact those whom the bill was meant to protect. For example, previously, cooperatives could admit more financially marginal applicants by asking for escrows, which the co-op relies on to protect itself if these new shareholders could not meet their monthly maintenance obligations.... The bill similarly restores the ability of cooperatives to charge application fees, late fees, attorney fees, etc. so that these costs do not fall on the backs of families in the co-op."
The consortium of nine organizations banding together is the latest example of New York co-ops flexing newfound political muscle. Last year, a vigorous grass-roots lobbying push led Congress to modify the Paycheck Protection Program to include housing cooperatives, which were originally excluded from the pandemic relief package. It was seen as a major victory.
The bills to carve co-ops out of the Tenant Protection Act were sponsored by two Queens Democrats, Assembly member Edward Braunstein and Sen. John Liu. The letter to the governor was signed by them and by the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums; the Cooperatives and Condominiums Advisory Council of Westchester; the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums; the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives; the New York Association of Realty Managers; the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council; the Queens County Bar Association; the Real Estate Board of New York; and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board.
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