Condominiums have become a popular form of residential real estate ownership for many New Yorkers. In a condominium, residents have separate ownership of their individual units, and an undivided interest, shared with other residents, in the common areas such as hallways, elevators and building lobbies.
Condominiums are governed by a board of managers. The board members are typically residents of the building and are often serving without pay. Ideally, they should try to resolve any issues amicably and maintain good relations with residents. Unfortunately, with some boards this is not always the case.
A condo board is legally obligated to follow the internal rules and procedures found in the condominium declaration, the by-laws and the house rules. Like the board of directors of a corporation, they are obligated to act with prudent judgment in making business decisions. Boards are also bound to comply with the New York Condominium Act.
If you believe your board is not acting in compliance with internal rules or the law, your first step should be to speak to a board member, explain the problem and request that it be remedied or corrected. If that does not resolve the issue, you should write a letter to the board and keep a copy for your records. Your request will carry much more weight if you have the support of other residents. Condominium boards are elected by the residents and will be more responsive to an organized group.
Litigation should be a last resort in a dispute with a condo board. Litigation can be expensive and you should keep in mind that you have to live in the same building with the people you are suing. Nonetheless, in serious cases where the board is not complying with the law or the internal rules of the building, it may be necessary to go to court.
Source: New York Office of the Attorney General, "How to Handle Problems with a Condominium's Board of Managers: Question And Answers," accessed Nov. 24, 2014