New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Bylaws can be tricky things. Most boards believe they can only be amended by, depending on the governing documents, a majority or a supermajority vote of the co-op shareholders or condo unit-owners. But depending on how your co-op propriety lease or condo articles of incorporation are written, boards may actually have the power to amend bylaws on their own, without a homeowner vote. The tricky part? Boards themselves can't remove amendments that homeowners approve — they can only remove amendments that a board approved.

Such was the tricky nature of bylaws in the case of a Manhattan cooperative trying to collect a sublet fee from a commercial tenant.

Legal Case Notes: Can Boards Charge a Commercial Tenant a Sublet Fee?

Written by Richard Siegler and Dale J. Degenshein on July 30, 2013

136 Greene Street, SoHo, Manhattan

Co-op shareholder Thomas Campaniello owned the shares of a commercial unit at the cooperative at 136 Greene Street in Manhattan. In 2006, he signed a lease with the co-op board. Four years later, when he sought to sublease the space for $60,000 a month, the board refused to give consent unless he paid what his lawsuit called an "exorbitant sublet fee" of 10 percent of the monthly rent, based on a bylaw amendment that the board — not the residents — had adopted. Campaniello asserted he was forced to sign a written agreement consenting to pay the fee as well as $3,000 for the co-op board's legal costs, and was told if he didn't sign, he would have been denied permission to sublet.

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