New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



To rewrite the old saying, there are not only two certainties in life, but three: death, taxes and shareholder / co-op board apartment-alteration disputes. 

Shareholders are too often self-interested and push alterations beyond the scope approved by the board. That was the recent experience of one of our co-op boards, whose cautiousness throughout the alteration process is a good example of how a board can effectively position itself to defend against alteration disputes when they inevitably arise.

As a board member, I think a call should go out to New York City co-op and condo boards for great ideas that buildings left without power came up with to help cope with their situation. Superstorm Sandy hammered home the point that every board ought to have an emergency preparedness plan. Your ideas will inform such plans and enable us all to be better prepared.

A 70-unit, eight-building condominium complex faced the issue of a board member's personal involvement in its decision-making process. The backdrop was cigarette smoke flowing from one unit into other units — including one owned by a condo-board member. You can probably see where this going.

A co-op board client had an issue regarding radiator leaks. Under the proprietary lease, the cooperative was responsible for maintaining and repairing all pipes and other utility conduits located inside the walls. Additionally, I noted that most cooperatives also take responsibility for the repair or replacement of any radiators located inside apartments since they are usually considered to be standard building equipment. Accordingly, I advised the co-op board that it has the responsibility to maintain and repair the radiator.

However, I pointed out that this responsibility does not automatically make the cooperative responsible for paying for repairs to apartment interiors and furnishings that may be damaged by a leaky radiator valve.

Board 101: What Are the Duties of a Condo or Co-op Board Secretary?

Written by Tom Soter and Bill Morris on September 20, 2012

New York City

Sept. 20, 2012 — Time to do the minutes. See? Bet you didn't know there were board-secretary jokes! What else do co-op / condo board members and residents not know about the position of board secretary? For one thing, he or she is responsible for a lot more than just the minutes. How much more? Hours' worth!

In the third and last part of this "Board 101" series that distills the cogent facts from legal and management experts, Tom Soter and Bill Morris explain the basics every board member and even co-op and condominium resident ought to know about their board secretary's responsibilities.

It seemed routine. A prospective buyer wanted to know what sort of building he was considering buying into, and what better place to find that out than in the co-op board minutes? Consequently, he sent in an attorney to read them. At another building, he sent a paralegal; somewhere else, a broker.

It was a cloak-and-dagger operation that within the last eight months saw board minutes copied without authorization by a company purportedly representing a buyer. It call came to light when a major New York City property-management firm discovered this buyer's representative, without authorization, feeding full sets of minutes into a portable scanner.
Why? One theory is that it could have been to create a library of minutes from a group of buildings. That way a company could advertise itself to prospective buyers as being the only one with the "inside scoop."

May 14, 2010 — A shareholder or a unit-owner has requested a copy of your co-op / condo board's meeting minutes prior to the minutes' formal approval. Do co-op / condo owners have a right to these unapproved minutes?

The answer isn't as cut-and-dried as you may think, cautions Matt Humphrey, president of, an organization devoted to what its tagline calls "practical advice for condominium and homeowners associations" and co-op boards. The question brings together several difficult issues, including who's entitled to see minutes when and what should — and definitely shouldn't — be in meeting minutes.

New Board Members' Common Rookie Mistakes and How to Avoid them

Written by Amelia J. Adair on November 09, 2012

New York City

Many articles talk about how to handle the tough stuff that may come up during co-op or condo board meetings. But sometimes it's the easy stuff that can trip you up. Here's a handy list of  "rookie mistakes" — oversights that new or inexperienced condo / co-op board presidents or committee meeting chairs often make.  Keep this with you and you’ll be more confident and professional while you preside over your first meetings.

A large cooperative development with multiple buildings and a no-pet policy found itself with many shareholders who had acquired pets. Given the size of the development and the fact that it contained a significant number of rent-stabilized tenants who were entitled to harbor pets, the board and management had difficulty in determining, even when a resident was observed walking a pet, whether the pet was permitted.

We represented a co-op board for which illegal sublets were becoming an increasing problem. The proprietary lease for this cooperative corporation stated that all sublets must be made only with board approval. The cooperative was fairly large, and some shareholders were subletting without board approval and without even notifying the board. The board decided it was time to take some action.

Ask the Experts

learn more

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

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?