New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
Even now, a quarter-century after the fact, the name Nick Biondi can still strike fear in the hearts of New York City co-op and condo boards. That's because in 1997, when Biondi was president of the Beekman Hill House co-op board in Manhattan, the board rejected the purchase application of an interracial couple. The couple charged racial discrimination, and a federal judge awarded them $640,000 in damages — $410,000 of which came out of the board members' pockets.
So when a Queens co-op board recently turned down the application of a potential purchaser named Mark Rueda — claiming his financial profile was unsatisfactory — board members surely suffered some anxiety when Rueda filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights (DHR), claiming he'd been discriminated against on the basis of his race.
Then came the sigh of relief. In the case, known as Mark E. Rueda v. Kaled Management Corp. et al, the DHR ruled that the board and its management company had done nothing wrong because their decision was based on financial considerations and on the applicant's failure to provide adequate documentation. The DHR also ruled that Rueda had provided no evidence that his denial was the result of racial discrimination. The board was defended by the law firm Romer Debbas, which wrote that the DHR also held that "speculation, without some evidence of discriminatory motive or intent, cannot support a finding of probable cause."
"The co-op board followed all the rules," says Emil Samman, a partner at Romer Debbas who represented the board. "They studied the applicant's financials. The message here is to do everything as per the governing documents."
Engage, enrage, ask questions and give answers with your community of board members. Submit your questions and comments here!
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.
Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments
Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise
Got elected? Are you on your co-op/condo board?
Then don’t miss a beat! Stories you can use to make your building better, keep it out of trouble, save money, enhance market value, and make your board life a whole lot easier!