Q&A: Seeking Stimulus

Q. The government has provided relief for renters of cooperatives. Is there any relief for cooperative shareholders? I’m told by the building manager that the relief fund provided was for management. How can everyone get help and not the actual owners of shares?

                —Where’s My Rent Relief?

A. “While the structure of a co-op and its shareholders creates a lessor/lessee relationship, the federal stimulus that was issued was created with the intent of assisting actual renters of residential properties that are below a certain threshold of median income in their areas as well as having have suffered a financial detriment due to the pandemic,” explains Pierre Debbas, partner at New York law firm Romer Debbas. “The lessor/lessee relationship does not negate the fact that shareholders own actual shares in a co-op that are appurtenant to a specific apartment. Technically, shareholders in a co-op do not own real property, but for purposes of the federal stimulus and taxes, their ownership of shares in a co-op is treated as owning real estate. If it is an individual wanting to qualify for the $2,000 stimulus, they should reach out to their accountant to see if they qualify. [Such federal stimulus is] unrelated to the funds allocated for rent. The corporation itself may be eligible for the PPP program to assist with payroll and other permitted expenses.”

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