New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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What does a cooperative need to prove when it sues a shareholder in landlord/tenant court for non-payment? These cases go to trial so rarely that people may not look at the proof the co-op must proffer.

But in 300 East 85th Housing Corp. v. Dropkin, the court considered the co-op's proofs and rendered a decision that is worth examining for several reasons.

Frieda and Howard Dropkin, shareholders at The America co-op at 300 East 85th Street, owe $13,000 in maintenance-payment arrears, the co-op board alleged in a court case decided late last month. Given the arrears and a couple of related issues, the board had moved to evict the couple. But, as the New York Law Journal reports, Judge Jack Stoller wasn't having any of it once he found the board couldn't explain how it calculated any of its shareholders' maintenance charges, let alone the Dropkins'. He also rejected the board's argument that the calculations didn't matter since the "voluntary payment doctrine" would have established the maintenance charge, noting the Dropkins had paid different amounts each month. The board's attorney told the Law Journal it was reviewing the decision to determine how to proceed.

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