Currently, state law in New York addresses condominiums and cooperatives with the following legislation:
- The Condominium Act regulates condos.
- Business and Corporation Law addresses co-ops.
For the most part, these laws relate to how legal documents for co-ops and condos are drafted. Such documents are written with the intention of clarifying how a condo or co-op will be controlled and how much say a resident can have in the way a building is run. However, there isn't yet a body of law that specifically addresses resolving conflicts between unit owners, condo or co-op boards, and other owners.
There is a push now to pass such legislation. In particular, there are three bills before state lawmakers that would change the way condo and co-op conflicts could be resolved. One piece of legislation would establish a part of the attorney general's office called the Cooperative and Condominium Ombudsman, which would provide services for dispute resolution and other services to help ensure fair board elections.
That office, if created, would also provide materials to educate people about various issues related to condos and co-ops.
Another bill would establish a part of Housing Court devoted specifically to hearing co-op and condo disputes.
The third bill would give the attorney general the power to appoint an officer to hear appeals in disputes between co-op boards and shareholders.
As with many areas of law, specialization is often a key component in creating an effective strategy to achieve a favorable outcome. It remains to be seen whether legislators will pass the proposed bills, though disputes between residents and boards are bound to continue. Anyone seeking a resolution in such a dispute would be wise to seek help from an attorney with specific experience in real estate litigation.
Source: Brooklyn News Corp, "Ben Akselrod Calling On Co-Op/Condo Legislation To Be Passed," Feb. 20, 2014