Q&A: Do Unenforced Bylaws Become Void?

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Q. If the particular bylaws of a condo community are continuously not followed, does the bylaw that is continuously misused become a LEGAL bylaw? Do we have any legal precedence here?

                       —Concerned in Chelsea

A. “The bylaws of a condominium are a legal document and are an exhibit to the Declaration of Condominium,” says Eric M. Goidel, a senior partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Borah Goldstein Altschuler Nahins & Goidel, P.C. “The Declaration is the instrument which forms the condominium and is recorded in the real property records of the county in which the condominium is formed. In New York City, the Declaration is filed with the New York City Register. Bylaws can only be amended by requisite vote of the unit owners. Typically an amendment requires a supermajority vote of the common interest (and on occasions also a supermajority of all units) in the condominium. The fact that a Board of Managers has ‘not followed’ a particular bylaw provision does not serve to void that provision. Nor does it mean that a practice of the Board of Managers taking some action contrary to the bylaw provision would somehow make that practice legal.”

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  • I own shares in a coop. The by-laws say to be on the board you have to own shares. It also says, to be the board president you must be a board member. The president of our board, W, transferred his shares to a trust FOUR months before he was elected president of the board. W should have NEVER been president of the board because he should have resigned months before the election. I found out that W transferred his shares by searching county records. I have written W and the rest of the board and have received no response. Are there criminal charges I can file against W and possibly the rest of the board for their failure to act?
  • If W is the trustee of said trust, then he is still a shareholder, making him eligible to be a board member.