Q&A: Foaming Over Washing Machines

Q In our Queens co-op (containing 68 apartments) we do not allow laundry washing  machines. A few owners have had them from years back, others have recently  renovated and installed washing machines in their apartments.  

 This causes unacceptable foaming and backed up pipes in units above and below  and bad bleach and chemical odors. The actions we have taken so far have not  produced the result of getting them removed. So far we have sent a letter from  the Board of Directors, instituted a $500 fine per apartment, and added this to  the owners’ maintenance bills. We also have sent the management company in to apartments to  report back to us.  

 Subsequently, these owners tell us that they do not use their washing machines.  What can we do to have these owners remove this violation? Or can the Board of  Directors go in and remove it?  

 —Washed Out in Queens

A “Assuming that your cooperative documents permit the prohibition of washing  machines, and the rule has been properly adopted and codified, the cooperative  can commence eviction proceedings against the violating shareholder in Housing  Court,” says real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.  

 “Unless emergency or exigent circumstances exist, most governing documents and  New York law prohibit the entrance of a shareholder’s unit without permission or a court order. At the same time, most cooperatives’ governing documents require a shareholder to provide reasonable access to  inspect a unit and you can enforce the right to obtain access in court or  through fines as well.  

 “However, if the occupier is not a shareholder-owner but is a rent-regulated  tenant who moved into the unit with the washing machine, he or she would likely  have the right to keep the washing machine—as long as it didn’t cause a nuisance to other owners or tenants in the building.”      

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