Shareholder Rights What Your Board Must Disclose

Shareholder Rights

Whenever a resident, board member or building owner gets frustrated by inaction or the process of wading through the bureaucratic red tape of board politics, it's hard to know where to turn for a solution.

Hostility accomplishes little, however, and lawsuits are expensive; in matters of group living, diplomacy, mediation, and compromise are always preferable to bringing out the big guns and going to court.

"Lots of stuff just should not be litigated," says Michael Horwitz, a principal with Horwitz & Zim Law Group, PC in Manhattan. "People shouldn't have to run to court all the time for every little thing - more use should be made of mediation and binding arbitration."

Even those less-litigious options might not even need to be explored if both board members and shareholder/owners are made aware of the primary state statute that spells out the finer points of running a fair, functional, and financially transparent building. That statute is New York State's Business Corporation Law, or BCL.

Understand Your Governing Documents

The first step to understanding the intersections between board operations and shareholder/owner rights is to understand that the decisions a board makes are guided by a hierarchy of governing documents that includes the building's Certificate of Incorporation, its proprietary lease, its house rules, and its bylaws. This interlinking web of papers and protocols must in turn comply with the BCL, which lays out the duties and responsibilities of directors and officers and outlines shareholder/owners' rights to information and participation in the running of their building.

In today's climate of corporate shadiness and financial mismanagement, practicing disclosure and fairness can foster open, productive communication between boards and residents and save both parties a lot of potential legal headaches - regardless of whether your building has 14 units or 414.

At a Glance

The BCL, according to the state Attorney General's office, is the main New York state law, which governs how co-op corporations must operate. The decisions made by courts in cases involving BCL provisions are the case law, which interprets the statute.

Typically, the bylaws and proprietary lease will let residents and board members know when annual shareholder meetings and elections to the board of directors are held, and how notice is given; the rules governing sponsors and how many seats they may be allotted on the board of directors; when a special meeting can be called; the specific procedures for amending the bylaws; the quorum for voting and holding a proper meeting; and sublet provisions. The BCL also spells out provisions for holding annual meetings; voting by proxy; allowing shareholders the right to view copies of balance and loss statements and other financial documents; and removing directors with or without cause.

The BCL, as should the co-op's governing documents, require that at least one annual shareholder meeting should be conducted, even if no one complains. Even if the residents of a small co-op opt to re-elect the same handful of directors year after year, the law is satisfied. According to Horwitz, regular meetings and votes are crucial: "When you've got people who've spent millions on an apartment, they should have a say - or at the very least, an opportunity to be heard."

And residents should protect their interest by using a proxy, according to Marc Schneider, of counsel to the law firm of Rosenberg & Fortuna, LLP in Garden City. "You can give a proxy to anybody to vote your interest - though it's usually better to designate another unit-owner. The original proxy form must be submitted to the manager prior to the vote, or presented to the board at the meeting before the vote is taken."

The board is also responsible to keep and maintain an updated master list of all shareholders' names and addresses. According to Horwitz, a co-op board is no different from the board of a regular corporation. "Shareholders are entitled to a list because they're shareholders," he says. "If residents are concerned about privacy and security, affidavits can be drawn up to protect their privacy."

Keeping Minutes

It's also a board's responsibility to keep accurate, complete minutes of shareholder meetings, which, under BCL Section 624, boards must "make available for inspection by a shareholder or the shareholder's agent or attorney." It's important to realize, however, that there's a distinction between shareholder meetings and board meetings; while records of shareholder meetings must be kept and disclosed, the BCL makes no such requirement for the minutes taken during closed board meetings. However, this does not prevent the co-op's bylaws from requiring such minutes. More often than not, board meeting minutes taken behind closed doors must be subpoenaed by a judge in the event of a lawsuit.

"Everyone's scared to death of litigation," says Horwitz. "I've seen minutes get shorter and shorter, to where they consist of a single line - "˜approved buyer so-and-so', for example. It's understandable, but communication is then a real difficulty - and it's a disservice to shareholders."

Bad Boards

The BCL also provides for removal of an inefficient or inept board of directors. But, of course, things have to deteriorate pretty badly before full-blown litigation or the removal of an entire board becomes a serious consideration. Any reputable attorney will nearly always advise diplomacy and mediation before recommending that a suit be filed.

Schneider urges disgruntled shareholders to remember that "boards have to abide by bylaws, and the BCL, but they don't have to do everything you ask. Make sure you're familiar with your lease, your bylaws, Offering Plan, and house rules before you start firing off letters - and make sure your request is reasonable and proper."

But say a shareholder hasn't been notified of an election in three years, or that nobody in a given building has any idea what kind of financial shape their co-op or condo is really in - what's the first step in rectifying the information gaps and seeing to it that the board isn't operating in a sealed environment? New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer's office recommends the simplest approach first: a tactful verbal mention of a board's non-compliance with its bylaws, proprietary lease, the BCL or other governing documents is often enough to do the trick - sometimes the problem is lack of awareness on behalf of the board, and the directors simply need a well-intentioned wake-up call.

Failing that, Schneider recommends that concerned shareholders should always put their grievances in writing and deliver them not to the board, but to their managing agent via registered or certified mail. Once the agent has the document in hand, he or she will present it at the next board meeting.

"Most boards meet once a month or so," says Schneider, "so give them 30 to 60 days to respond - unless your issue is urgent in nature. If you're injured and need a ramp installed so you can access your building, then set forth that urgency in your letter, and the board must address it in a timely manner."

If the issue is one that impacts more than just one or two residents, united shareholder/owners can lobby for reform as a bloc, or band together to vote in new, more progressive directors at the next annual election.

Schneider also points out that if a coalition of residents requests a meeting, they must also specifically call for a vote at the same time, or the board can "just sit there, thank everyone for coming, and go home" without taking action.

If a building-related issue goes beyond the friendly-conversation phase, it's a good idea to keep copies of any letters sent - as well as records of phone conversations - with the date, time, involved parties, and general thrust of the communication spelled out, in case the issue isn't dealt with immediately and past efforts to correct it need to be referenced.

Only after talking, writing, and mediating have failed to produce results should anyone consider retaining private legal counsel and launching a lawsuit, says the Attorney General's office. The reasons for this are obvious: lawsuits are expensive, they can drag on for years, and they can make for a very uncomfortable - even hostile - living environment for both plaintiffs and defendants. Far better for directors and shareholders to avoid them in the first place by familiarizing themselves with their bylaws and offering plan, and for shareholder/owners to take a productive, cooperative role in the governing of their residential community.

"In this climate of corporate fraud and irresponsibility," says Horwitz, "There's a need for transparency [with boards]. Otherwise, you're living in a dictatorship."

Hannah Fons is Associate Editor of The Cooperator.

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  • Good general information. Question - How long does it take from the time the AG is contacted for a response?
  • Many shareholders in my Co-Op have not received copies of Bylaws and the Amendments. Question: What are shareholders' rights on this issue? Can Board President or Board Members or the Management Company refuse a shareholder's request to a copy of the Bylaws and Amendments when they never received copies of the same when they bought their shares in the Co-Op apartment?
  • Where would I look for approval of alterations to commercial space in my coop. I am a shareholder experiencing loss of heat due to alterations of a professional ofiice below my partment. The board had already refused my request for board minutes and I have written numerous leeter to the managing agent regarding this issue.
  • When two shareholders are in dispute (personality/noise issues), is there any president for the Board to evict one of the shareholders in order to provide reasonable quality of life living condition for the other shareholder. Note - One party being senior citizens living in the building for more than 30 years (original inside punchers) when building converted in 1983.
  • I have been experiencing discrimiation at my Coop. My noise complaints were not answered by the Board, yet they respond to other shareholders' complaints. I got cited for alleged violation, but my neighbors, who store large items in the hallway, do not. I was sent a Notice to Cure from the Coop lawyer regarding bed bugs, even though I was fully cooperating with the Proprietary Lease regarding extermination. Other residents who had bedbugs were not sent such notice. I am routinely harrassed in Board Minutes, which are distributed to all shareholders. What should I do? Thank you.
  • is there anything that can be done to alleviate a noise condition under my apt. i.e. 24 hr laundry room----365 days of the year, and an intolerable heat situation, winter and summer, especially summer....even with air conditioner set at 60.2
  • My Board is making it impossible for me to sell...what are my rights as a shareholder for being able to sell?
  • the board of our building is controlled by the sponsor and the president who are both buying and renting apartments. they vote as a block and provent anyone else from becoming a board member. They also control who can sell and/or rent apartments. Also the building has allowed dogs. I have had a dog in this building for over 20 yrs. My dog has died recently and I would like to replace her in the spring. Am I grandfathered to be able to have another og?
  • I have a few answers to prior questions on this thread. Here we go! @sofia: Regarding your issue with not having the Bylaws / Amendments, it is really a part of your due diligence when your purchased the apartments to have sought them out for the closing. The Managing Agent shouldn't turn down your request to purchase a new set of docs, and they should also charge you for it, which you would then pay. I can't think of a reason that they would hold back. I'm a managing agent, and I'll often give the Shareholder the option to receive a copy via PDF'd e-mail which we don't charge for since we're not standing over the copy machine and wasting paper. Perhaps you can try that route as well. @Jane: Board minutes, as per your corporate docs, should be available to review, at least in the Managing Agent's office with reasonable notice given. I never fully trust a Board that won't let their minutes be read in a controlled environment. You might want to draft a formal letter with the exact paragraph where it is stated that you have the right to review the minutes. CC your attorney and the building's attorney as well. If that doesn't work, I would talk to your legal representative to review your options. @Leonard Gonsalves: Your building docs should have a rule on this regarding some sort of warrantee of habitability (check them as the wording is probably different). If a Shareholder is a nuisance and is guilty of "objectionable conduct" that does not allow anyone to quietly enjoy their home, then the Board could initiate an eviction process and force the sale of those shares. @Fatimah: Depending on the nature of the descriptions in the minutes and the Board's attempt to tarnish your reputation / good standing in the building, you might have a libelous issue on your hands. I would speak to your legal representative for a formal opinion, but a legal letter to the Board might be warranted at this least a cease and desist to try and calm things down. @unkonwn (unable to sell): The Board can really only legally prohibit a sale for financial reasons (i.e. the prospective buyer can't afford the debt service that his mortgage and maintenance will bring). There are many protected classes with regards to real estate transactions (race, class, family status, disabilities, etc.) I always tell my Boards that to prevent a lawsuit, never invite someone to interview who can't pass on financials alone. Every other rejection is an invitation to a lawsuit. If you feel that the Board is passing on buyers due to reasons other than economic, ask your legal representative for their opinion. @concerned: If the building now has a no dog policy and you were grandfathered in, the usual rule is that you can not replace that dog once it dies. If your building has no restrictions on pets, I would safely assume that you'll be allowed to get another dog. If your building only allows pets after approval by the Board, then approval you should seek. Hope that helps a bit! Mark Levine ( Excel Bradshaw Management Group
  • may help "concerned" " In 511 West 232nd Owners Corp. v. Jennifer Realty, the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling and held that the sponsors failure to sell unsold shares constituted grounds for a breach of contract proceeding." source:
  • I also have a question. In coops, does the management have to give advance notice of non-emergency repairs in your apartment. I found that the law is 7 days notice for rentals, but I do not know if the same law applies to coops in nyc.
  • Recently our Board gave us a financial statement that simply didn't add up. A friend went tothe Town and School District to get the proper numbers and we found out that we were NOT given the proper information. We met with the President and Treasurer and a few other members and all seemed well. At the next full membership meeting the President fined the retired person who had gotten the information $1,000 for going out side the Co-op without permission! Is this legal? What can be done?
  • I have been living in my co-op for the last 7 1/2 years and never had any problems with my neighbor below. Recently my husband was approached by the doorman telling him our new managment wanted to speak to us about a complaint,. My husband approached the super who claimed to have a letter but never showed it to us. We verified with the neighbor who assured us she never send such complaint but thought it came from her renter who is not on the lease. I like to say that I have a 7 year old who suffers from sever allergies and asthma inclusive I had carpeting in my apartment up until he cough Kawasaki and we almost lost him ~that is when the doctor asked us to remove it. But we keeped it in his room and he sleeps with us. Can magament force me to put them back? also according to procedures I should have gotten a letter regarding this complaint and I didn't. What is your advise... I feel this is a personal attack as we are both at work and my little one is in school during the day we don't get home till after 6:30pm then we are in bed by 8:00PM
  • Does anyone have any information about how shareholders go about forming a Shareholder Association in order to organize and be a bloc in case we have to remove the Board of Directors?
  • I am certain that my managing agent and board is misappropriating funds and not going into the proper accounts or even being deposited to begin with. the treasurer recently rallied for me to be off the board because of my constant questioning of the finances. To me, this spoke volumes, especially when I was the one who came up with plenty of ideas on how to bring in extra money so to build our reserve. I never see the reserve account growing and our maintenance has gone up over 25% in the past 2 years, with a rise on verge again. I want to know what my first step would be in getting the board to explain where all the money is going and account for every dollar that is brought in by the building.
  • Our Co-op has a grandfather clause for current dog owners. Current owners, or anyone who has moved in prior to 2006 (and does NOT own a dog) may continue to have or purchase a dog. Upon permission from the board. My husband and I moved in after the grandfather date and have requested permission in writing to be allowed to own a dog. As expected, we were denied. We have started a petition to overturn the dog ruling, and have more than half of the shareholders signatures in favor of overturning the ruling. We would like to present this to the board at then next meeting...can the board ignore this petition signed by a majority of the shareholders??? Isn't this considered a vote by the shareholders?
  • While staying temporarily with a relative at an HDFC, I had to report some nosey neighbors to authorities after all else failed. They said I had no right to ask or demand anything because I was not a renter or shareholder. Is this true or are they full of hot air. Also, they have decided to retaliate by gang stalking me, harassing, assaulting & defaming me. I intend to sue but need their full names for court summons. How can I get copy of the shareholers list. Asking my father is out of the question. So what other options do I have. I asked President of the board but proved fruitless. Please help me out with the info & I'll take it from there. Thank U & God Speed !!!
  • we are shareholders in our coop. we bought our apartment because of its skylight. it's leaking and the board refuses to repair the skylight. it rules that if we insist on a repair, the coop will just cover the skylight with wood because it would reduce the expense for the coop. that would reduce the value of our coop. does the board have the right to cover our skylight with wood?
  • A leak in the plumbing in the wall behind the tub in my coop caused my newly custom stained floors to buckle. The board sent engineers to assess and their report and building's insurance confirmed the damage was to be covered by the building. This was end of august. The floor company that the building uses and that I use came out and confirmed a section of the hall floor as well as a large section of floor extending into dining/living area would need to be replaced. But then entire apartment would need to be resanded and restained to match the color given time and oxidation. To build a platform and temp roof, wrap and move all my furniture to my deck and then put it back into place and dismantle, my contractor quoted a bid for 2200. President of the board did not reply to any emails requesting response, although he had okayed moving ahead with the replacement, resanding and restaing. I called and he said it was too much and wanted me to find a stain that could be put down on half the room and then the other half. I spoke with the floor guy and the only stain that can be put down in a start stop manner is a natural stain nowhere near my color, which is my designed color for my dream apartment. I emailed the president of the board that this was not a possibility and that my color would need to be restored. To that end requested he approve my contractors fair and reasonable quote and give the go ahead to move forward. No reply. Two voicemails. No return calls. Is he waiting for some sort of time limit to expire where he is no longer responsible or am I being paranoid? What rights do I have to communication and timely response? What's my next step? Thanks
  • how do i get in touch w the BCL if i can
  • Unreasonable Pricing on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 1:51 PM
    I am trying to sell my coop, and the board has expressed they will not approve a purchase under $145k. The market comps are $140 (high end) $120 (low end), and I sold mine for $136k. We have a viable purchaser who has already been approved for a mortgage. What are my rights, if the Board is being unreasonable and reject this sale becasue it does not meet their desired $145K?
  • There is a current board member in our co-op building, which is a Mitchelle-Lama building in The Bronx, that this is NOT his legal residence. It appears he is using a non New York City address in order to avoid paying NYC income tax. Is this legal? Also should he be removed as serving as a Board of Director?
  • Unreasonable Pricing 2 on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 9:47 PM
    I was in contract to sell my co-op. The contract was completed, and then I receive a letter from my co-op that I have to sell it for a minimum price. That means that I have to sell it for 40% higher than fair market value. My real estate agent recommended that I take it off the market because absolutely no one will buy it. I have to continue paying the maintenance fees for the co-op, and the co-op is not allowing me to rent it either. I can't sell and I can't rent.
  • Being Harassed by Super on Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:12 PM
    We are sub-tenants and have recently started being harassed by the super who is also the President of the Board. The super has a personal problem with us and it all started when our toilet overflowed, he became very annoyed with us. We paid for the repairs for the apt below us and a few weeks later he sent us House Violation fee of $350 dollars saying we neglected our bathroom and we should have known there was an issue. We contested the fine and since then the harassment has started. He is not trying to have our landlord evict us because he claims we are "undesirable tenants". Can i sue him for harassment and Libel. I have all his slanderous words in writing.
  • do shareholders have a right to see all bids for work that seems like just kickback work. can we see all bills paid
  • A shareholder verbally abused me in Dec. of 2010. He physically assaulted me in Feb. of 2011. Both events took place on Coop property. I reported both incidences to my Board and Managing Agent (several times). 6 months later, I have had NO response from either of them. The shareholder who assaulted me made a noise complaint against me two weeks ago. Yesterday, I received a nasty letter from the Coop lawyer. My complaints have not been addressed at all; his complaint received response within 2 weeks. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder (14 years). Stress resulting from discriminatory treatment can cause me to relapse; I would have to be hospitalized. In addition, I don't feel as comfortable living here as I did before these occurrences. Please advise. Thank you.
  • my co-op board denied my perspective buyer to buy my home can they legally keep the reason why from me. He had 80% as a down from his own real estate sale and a full time job
  • My sister died last Thanksgiving day 2010 her husband died 7 weeks after. She brought the co op herself, only her name is on the deed. In her will she left the co op to her husband but the co op dose not recognize that. The husband's son has the key to the property & feels he's entitled. Co op management does not honor or recognize that. What they acknowledge in the will is the executrix which is me. Co op management said that I am the one with the rights to the apartment shares. Could this information be correct? Please help
  • my co-op will be paid off next year. We resently, have new development in our area. Roomers say they might buy us out! I was wondering if we are on subsidied Hud is it a cut for us, recently management say, we will only get what we put down. I am sure we get more than that plus interest. and what about the other half of the money going shares eventhough I get subsidy help. I live there 15plus years. only 2yrs on help when my husband died.
  • concerned for added charges to maintenance bill on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 1:48 AM
    my co-op board sign a 4 year contract with Cablevision/Optimum to have every apartment in every buidling of the co-op use Cablevision. The Cablevision charges will be set and willl be charged to our monthly maintenace bill. My problem is that currently I don't have a TV, I don't watch TV, and still I will be charged this additional monthly fee for a service that I don't have and use. Can the co-op board force this service to the shareholders and tenants, and if not what do I have todo to remove these charges from my maintenance bill.
  • Hello: I am an American with a diagnosed disability - Bipolar disorder. I receive disability payments from Social Security: Problem. My Coop Board is discriminating against me & harassing me. Problem: I have an ongoing noise issue with my upstairs neighbors (apt. 9/10). Most recently, the Board sent me a warning letter(from a lawyer), threatening me with eviction. On this and other occasions, the Board did not arbitrate. The Board did not contact me to get my statement. The Board has proceeded against me based solely on 9/10's allegations against me. In addition, Mr. 9/10 - the husband - screamed obscenities at me and orcefully shoved me in the building hallway. Please advise. Thank you.
  • How Can A Mother And Son Who Live In The Same Unit Be On The Board. Also How Two Brothers Be on The Same Board Also. And With That Beening Said There Mother Have Not Paid Common Charges For A Long Time Whisch Is Just Found Out. HOW PLEASE HELP ME IN THIS MATTER.
  • Does the Shareholder have the right to have all Board members names and contact information?
  • E. Sot While staying temporarily with a relative at an HDFC, I had to report some nosey neighbors to authorities after all else failed. They said I had no right to ask or demand anything because I was not a renter or shareholder. Is this true or are they full of hot air. Also, they have decided to retaliate by gang stalking me, harassing, assaulting & defaming me. I intend to sue but need their full names for court summons. How can I get copy of the shareholers list. Asking my father is out of the question. So what other options do I have. I asked President of the board but proved fruitless. Please help me out with the info & I'll take it from there. Thank U & God Speed !!! Umm... you are not the shareholder, so no, you don't have any say, in anything in a cooperative. Your father - or whomever was / is the shareholder for that unit is the only person who can do anything regarding the board. No, you do not have rights to the names of the BOD. My suggestion to you would be to either get out of there if it's too much of a problem, or, if you are already out - which is what it sound's like, forget it. You have no basis for a lawsuit. Mr. L.K.Johnson - Two people who are living in the same unit cannot be on the board at the same time. That would be like saying that my hubby and I can be on the board at the same time. It's one person per unit. When in doubt, read your prop lease and your bi-laws. Karen - Shareholders DO have the right to have all Board members names, but not contact information unless they supply it. People, read your bi-laws and your prop lease. I'm seeing so many of these questions that would / could be answered by just reading that packet of information that you received when you bought the unit. Keep in mind is that the BOD answers to the shareholders. Let the BOD get out of control, and there is no one else to blame other than the BOD AND the shareholders.
  • Executer of Estate on Friday, January 6, 2012 3:11 PM
    My grandfather passed away in january 2010, I lived with him along with my disabled mother for a year before his death. I was in contact with the vice president who was happy at the time to grant me succession rights or to become the new shareholder as my grandfather had lsited me as his beneficiary. Over a year later, out of no where - the president now says I am to be evicted because the shares should have went back to the building? I'm still here and don't know what to do.. I am sure that there is NOT a full board of members. Repairs and maitenance do not exist, I have heard many rumors of drug use from the vice president and his girl friend whom is the "administartor" They refuse to talk to me.. What can I do?
  • I live in an HDFC building,the Management/President,& the Treasurer,seem to state that the bylaw,allowed them to take 8% of the intake of the other Shareholder Monthly Maintence,they're getting paid way more than their own maintence/rent,& their not paying their own rent(so their living for free.)their always paying the bills of the building late,and the total intake of the building is always short,the building is a real slum,even the Super doesn't do his job or any work,(He sell Drugs from his Apt) the building is in need of many repairs,he like taken his pay but doesn't do the work,then it found out that he also not paying his maintence,he does it whenever he feels like it,cause he the Brother of the President, most of the other shareholders,haven got a clue on how they took over,If there was ever a meeting of shareholder,nobody knew about it,I didn't vote fot these slum people to take over,they just did,now the shareholder are asking stepdown (But they won't)they don't even want any of the other shareholder to see the books,there was a building violation about the FireEscape,where another shareholder had to take care of it cause mainagement didn't care to take care of,our building is really becomeing a Real Slum building there even drug user hanging in the building,we need help,maybe even get an outside Mainagement to take over,I don't know who to talk,tried to ask help from an HDFC,rep,
  • I have my apartment shared with my friend ten years ago up to the present. I don't want her to pay me anything except for the maintenance, I don't live in my apartment ever since she move in to give her privacy. Am I allow to do that? second I have my parking spot used by her since she lives there, and recently the board reboked my spot they said that i have it used to unidentified person. How can I take my spot back? Third they are on the process of getting rid of her on the building after ten years of her stay?? I want her there until I retire that I can use it for myself. Please help!!
  • leave the shares in his name. As an immediate family member you are allowed to live in his apartment with no board aproval, there is nothing they can do about it. Unless he was the owner of unsold shares, then I do not know the answer. I'd ask for a copy of the document that says the shares should go boack to the co-op. Do it in writing, then sit back and relax....
  • I would like to know where I need to go to see the answers to these questions ?
  • Are there any statutes that govern what rules cannot be in bylaws? Could co-op bylaws stipulate that if any shareholder fail to pay maintenance, then electricity shall be denied to all shareholders?
  • My fellow Co-op Shareholders recently requested and conducted a Special Meeting to Remove the current entrenched Bd. of Directors. In our By-Laws, we do not need to show cause, although there are many reasons that are valid. A core group hired a lawyer to assist with this process and the Board was voted off by an overwhelming margin (over 57%). The Board Attorney used balance forward items that were either inaccurate or the result of the Management's errors in Cable billing ($.44!) to disqualify the votes of 10% of the shareholders. I found a Resolution that was prepared by same Attorney and approved by the then and present President, et al. which allows that the right to vote, in addition to pool, garage, amenities privileges, be denied AFTER 60 DAYS. We just received a response sent to our lawyer that the Board refuses to acknowledge their Removal! Our lawyer assisted for the past 4 months for only $1000., and has been working basically pro bono since, but has to charge $7500 to $10,000. to take this to court. Are there any other options? At this point, they have been legally removed according to our By-laws and there own Resolution protects votes they have sought to disqualify. We are in New Jersey and wonder if Prosecutors can get involved to recover our control. Please advise! Thank you.
  • What about bad (i.e nasty, incompetent, lie's, asks/looks sceevy, we're in a lovely building, abusively yells at wife, (I'm the lucky next door neighbor) and when he finally does arrive with his probably illegal crew, to whom he also speaks extremely abusively to but sucks up to the board members so they have never had a problem with Mr. Wonderful
  • i own a coop in dutchess county ny i purchased directly from the sponsor over 20 years ago. i am allowed to sublet. today i received a letter that my tenant is being evicted due to a domestic dispute incident that happened over a month ago. they want me to evict the tenant by may 2 (today is april 10). I am fine with removing the tenant but I am concerned with the short time frame requesting her eviction. are coop evictions subject to any new york state laws in terms of notification, length of time.
  • For a loft building of 44 apartments is it required or a law that we have a Super with certificates. Our super was replaced with a custodian/handyman with no certifications.
  • Is anyone in here thinking to constitute an association with the scope of protecting shareholders against increasing cases of abuses from mismanagement and breach of fiduciary duty noticed in so many co-op association BODs? I experienced a façade restoration work project, combined with lobby remodeling (caused by installing an adequate A/C system for our doorman). As a former project manager in construction business I know that under general condition, every DOB approved work project specifies the work conditions and the timeframe the work has to be done, and the management could inforce more restriction in order to assure the safety of the residents.. While the board of directors approved to update the A/C unit in the lobby, they also approve the Façade restoration contractor’s solution to protect the windows by sealing them with low transparency film, effectively blocking us to open the windows and use the AC units (causing to us an increase in electricity consume and obstructing our access to fresh air, estimated for a period of 8 weeks). If we try to bring to super, manager and BOD this issue remains ignored. Air quality standards and noise pollution is regulated by DOE, and as constructor I know we have alternative solutions to successfully do the job our building needs, but from contractor’s cost effective perspective their way of work is the best. Could I consider that the efforts to make sure that in the lobby the doorman has proper fresh air while at the same time the BOD and Management restrict to more than 60 shareholders the access to fresh air without any concern for their health is a breach of fiduciary duty?
  • I was cited, they board lawyer is tring to collect $60,000 and said I outhorised the entire building to have energy plus comp and that I own the building energy and attorney fees
  • My neighbor makes noise all day long and makes my life miserable. She is a member of the Board and I have spoken to the President of the Board but she refuses to take any action. What is my next step?
  • im a shareholder in a coop building and my fellow share holders would like to change management due past issues,also one of the board share holders teams up with the management company inwhich voting always falls in there favor. all the share holders voted for a replacement but the management team votes for the individual and represent the owner as proxy and they always win. What can we do to get rid of this management?
  • My maintenance has gone up quite a bit in the last few years - is it legally possible that the Board is charging me more per share than other shareholder?
  • So basically one should never invest in a co op, too much of a headache, and financial burden, one may as well buy a home with the mortgage and maintenance fee one has to pay and put up with juvenile behavior, corruption, mismanagement of shareholder's funds. Seriously not worth it. There are no laws to protect the shareholder, a board can pretty much do as they please, especially if the majority are corrupt. I guess hire a private detective.
  • I followed your information and requested the master list in writing and a notarized affiidavit. I was told that the coopertive attorney told the property manager that I should hand write the entire list of 480 shareholders. Is this ethical since I offered to pay to copy it. The attorney denied it but I haven't gotten the master list yet.
  • Are Shareholders allowed to see an itemized list of what a project in a Co-op is costing? I.e I would like to know how much a specific project was allocated, and how much in actuality it cost? I live in NYC.
  • i am a shareholder of a limited company which was incorporated to provide affordable housing to its shareholders via an occupancy agreement. the building operation is controlled by one person who is a president, board member, property manager, administration, internal accounting and procurment manager...........etc he is dominating the board of directors and he is owning, buying and renting apartments without disclosure. he prevents anyone else from becoming a board member. he also control the building solicitor to act for his benifits I am certain that president who is also a manager is misappropriating funds and not going into the proper accounts or even being deposited to begin with......i need your help to guide me on which documents should i be examining to discover their liabilities for negligence, fraud, professional missconduct.....etc
  • I have been on the board of our co-op and there has been the usual tensions between the board, the management, and the shareholders. Recently two board members held a 'Special Meeting' with a ballot to vote two board members off. They claim that they got the votes, offed two members, became President, offed the board attorney and the management company. Unfortunately, the by-laws were not adhered to leaving the co-op in disarray. There is a provision in the by-laws to remove members with a majority vote. I feel it is time to exercise this right although it will most likely generate a lot of animosity against the existing board it will show that it has strength to make a decision for the health of the co-op.
  • I found this article very informative and helpful.
  • Great article. unfortunately in a co-op where the shareholders vote by proxy have no clue what is going on or if the person with the proxy voted for their interest. People are lazy or too busy to attend shareholders meeting until something that affects them personally. They hand in their proxy, ask the doorman, management or super and leave blank proxies. The proxies are collected and given to whomever that person they trust would vote in their interest. The power struggle is evident and that these people actually have a conflict of interest. No matter how nice they may seem, no matter how long you've known them, you should question the motive for proxy solicitation. Consider it as giving your bank safety deposit key to someone you don't really know. The other issue that no one discusses is that voting should be private and should be handled as such. Management companies never suggest that, the Board members like to know who voted for them and it makes people uncomfortable to stand up for themselves. There are serious consequence. Board members should work for the best interest of the shareholders but if shareholders do not participate in the annual meeting and get involved in the process, then they deserve what they they get. Outside observers not connected to anyone who live in the building management, staff or Board members should counting the votes and the voting privacy should be protected.
  • I'm a shareholder and have a small dog for two years and a few months. There was never a issue with her making noise or any other concerns. The President on the board never approach us concerning our quiet dog. Since my dog have establish her residency there was recently two additonal small dogs from shareholder. I just received a noticed that we have to start paying fifty dollar and register our dog. Please advise...
  • We have an unelected BOD, appointed by the lawyer for the building and the management company we the shear holders have no say in our affairs because the BOD have no lawyer to represent our investment so it's what ever the management want's what can we do about this.
  • We are a group of 22 homeowners owing stock in our co-op and we a corporation. We now have some stockholders in arrears, 1 in foreclosure & 2 in short sale. If those in short sale are also in arrears does the corporation get its money owed upfront before the arrears stockholder if their is a sale? For those in foreclosure, if the bank now owns the house who owns the stock and can vote at a stockholder meeting? Thank you.
  • My coop is a mess the board of directors is making an apt for a friend at the cost of the share holders to make matters worst he made him a second superintendent taking away a storage room and converting it in an apt, They went as far to start the work with out a permit or on electrician the one who been doing the work is the same person who is getting the apt. After many complaints to the DOB they were served with a Stop work order. What gets me is that he will charge all of us with the bill. Who can I contact in my district is there any one that takes care of the coop boars?
  • Coop By-Laws state Elections should be held annually. What if a Board does not have annual elections and continues to act as a Board by making decisions and signing documents. Can their decisions be challenged in Court?
  • My coop is insisting that I have my through the wall AC sleeves (fabricated, installed and approved by the board, over 25 years ago), inspected because of getting a new through the wall AC unit. And, they want me to use their inspector and be changed for his service? This demand is not documentated in any building rules. What can I do?
  • I live in a co-op loft in Soho that my husband bought in 1971 for $10,000. My co-op is harassing me, verbally, physically, and their negligence in maintaining the roof (leaking since 2003, seriously. I have one of the dangerous toxic black molds at levels so high they are not able to read them, and my coop refuses still to repair the roof. I have been seriously ill 24/7 since last summer and in hospital emergency 3 times for excruciating pain + cognitive decline, 13 nose bleeds in less than two months, 24/7 severe abdominal pain, etc. My husband died of lung cancer. I have learned today that I have high levels of lead in my home, in the room that I work in, sleep in (I had to move out of the bedroom because of the toxic mold), and eat in 24/7 (I do not go out much; I have asthma, and am on disability for chronic lyme's disease which has left me with a compromised immune system). The lead inside my home is the result of facade work - the grinding or sanding of the late 1800s paint. The coop covered all windows with plastic and sealed them with tape. At the end of that work, which took 5 months, I wanted to remove the plastic, which had been installed and then my opaque window shades put back on top. The window shades covered the top half of all of the 3 very large windows. I discovered that under each window shade there were one or two large holes (not slits - open holes) which had let all of the ground-up lead particles into my room, three feet from where I slept and spent every evening. Acceptable levels of lead are between 40 - 250 (depending on where they are to be found). The results of the lead tests in my room were 16,000. The other co-op members want to sell the building and need my vote. Their actions I am not mentioning herein are many, many times more than I can write; I have written probably over 1,000 emails in the last year and a half asking for my rights. The co-op knows I am going broke as I have many debts incurred from my husband's illness (last year I had negative income, this year also or near that) and that I must sell 1/2 of the floor which is my right; they have effectively stopped that sale by refusing to take care of the mold. My previous rental tenant moved out last year because of the mold. They know I have no money for a lawyer (I hired one who called the co-op's attny to call a meeting and to get management & co-op to come and see the current leaks - they had not come to see them once in one year. That cost me $1,700. At the meeting I showed the co-op eleven different areas of leaks, many of them from ceiling to floor - 13' - with ten or more water stains. The co-op said they didn't see anything, or that the stains, which were not wet, did not prove anything) The co-op "expert" roofer destroyed my air conditioner pipe penetration into the roof and says that is my responsibility, despite the co-op's own architect writing that this was causing leaks. The co-op has not followed their own architect's, previous roofer's, previous engineers 3 separate reports dating from 2005 making recommendations to stop the leaking. I stopped paying rent under the Warrant of Habitability and the co-op was beginning to seize possession of my loft; I don't understand the co-op's Offering Plan, Proprietary Lease, & By-Laws as to my rights about this. I have no money and am going under financially very quickly. I am an artist and my work is in MOMA but I have no support and no legal help. I beg anyone who might be able to give assistance to please do so. I am a senior citizen and can not take this much longer. Thank you.
  • Mr. Schneiderman, Are we kidding? Honestly, boards should know when they are violating rules/laws, giving them a reminder that they are deviating is not likely in my community. They will harass, stalk and resort to criminal activities to violate, intimidate and bully a shareholder to maintain full control. Shareholders are in fear of this board and what is the shareholders recourse, to hire expensive attorneys? What if they cant afford to do so, most cant. Then they are subject to criminal activity, a rogue board, above the law? And who on a board would be combative and resort to such activities if they were doing the right thing for the community, their fidicuary duty. With no laws and oversight, well then, y not, most people will become embellished with such power and indeed, money is the root of all evil. So what is the hold up here with co op laws? Yep, I said it and say it again, money is the root of all evil, otherwise Congress would have long passed overdue laws, knowing this. Thanks for the advice, but it doesn't work with criminals. That's just like telling a criminal who comes to rob someone, "please don't rob me". The person with the power can say these ludicrous things cause they don't have to worry, isn't that so.....
  • Is it legal for the Property Manager to take the minutes and then leave out most of what was discussed? He never copies the board on any complaint letters that he responds to. Shouldn't he copy he board on all correspondence?
  • To Claire: Your situation appears to be a Police matter and should be addressed to the Police accordingly. Anything that is beyond civil such as crime in the case of assault, the Police will handle. The board and managing agents handle only civil cases except for fraud which can also be a crime.
  • I recently moved in to a co-op in NY, outside NYC. Within days of moving in, plumbing within the walls leaked, causing damage to the tenant directly below. It appears the previous owner of my co-op had done sub-standard plumbing work. This violated board rules of using licensed/insured contractors. The management company recently attached a large sum to my maintenance. I assume it's for plumbing and damages. I've asked for an itemized bill several times, but no response yet. Do I have any recourse or am I liable? Does the management company have any responsibility?
  • It is the attorney general sat up a office that Wii represent the shareholders in cooperatives. Not everyone is ran according to the bylaws and proprietary lease. The losers are the investors who cannot sell and stuck between a hard place and a stone. Illegal subletting is rampant, board is corrupt not intentionally but because of poor advise from legal. Shareholders feel neglected when attending annuals and no quorums for years. What can we do to turn it around before we become a rental property by default?
  • Am a shareholder in a Queens, New York co-op and in the by-laws it states a shareholder has access to the shareholder's "stockbook". I was told that I could only look at my own and no one else's apt. in this "stockbook". I understood the entire information in the stockbook is open to any shareholder in that co-op. What recourse does a shareholder have in this situation?
  • I have a board that had recently allow my next door neighbor to sell her coop during the same time I had decided to sell mine this year 2014. They are leading my selling agent and lawyer astray and rejecting my offers so far. I have yet another offer on the table where the board is now not responding. I have also contacted my Housing Preservation Department building manger on numerous occasions and he is basically saying that it is nothing he can do or is willing to do. I have a special needs child that has to be in school where we plan to relocate and he needs his special services that has been cancelled because we was mislead by the board. I had even gotten rid of a lot of our furniture in the process. What can I do?
  • I moved into my co-op apartment several months ago. They are now telling me my check for my property taxes should be made out to the name of the co-op apartments that I live in, as "they can't do anything with the check". Until now I have been making the check out to the county treasurer as this is who my taxes are paid to and they have been cashing this check with the county treasurers name on it or the bookkeeper has. This sound very fishy to me as they have 2 large loans now, I am wondering if they are getting me to write the check to them instead of the county name that receives my taxes as they want to take my check and use it for themselves instead of paying my taxes. This just doesn't seem right, I wonder if they are trying to steal from me? Any advice no this matter? Further they have not changed the name on my unit from the past owner. I don't trust them. Please offer your opinion on this matter. Thanks.
  • I have a big problem with constant noise from apartment below, since the person living there is a board member I can not get them to stop and the rest of the board just doesn't care. I own my apartment is there anything I can do ? Any legal rights ?
  • I've been over charged by the co-op for and made by fees and repairs/ damages. Do I sue the Management company or the Board.
  • I have a problem, please help me...I was looking to buy a coop and after three months I was called without a day in advance that my Board Interview is that day. After the interview, I must call the office to find out what happens. I did call the office and she told me from the coop management that I was denied. No reason at all and on top of that they even took my $500.00 for Coop Tenants / Administrative fees. I signed a contract which is not mentioned that they cannot disclose why I was brass-off regarding my application. Is it fair that the coop management takes the administrative fees without telling you why I was denied? I could just understand if only a few dollars, but $500? I think they are making money with other applicants who are also like me. I don't see any disclosure that they cannot tell me what is the reason for rejecting my application. Thank you and I hope someone there can explain to me.
  • My mother has been living In her apartment for over thirty years it's HPD / Co op and she own shares I am the only son left of 5 all are disesed I grew up here in NYC and moved to l.a. I work in both cities and reside in my moms apartment when I here. she would like to and me to her shares but the members are making it very difficult. What are my moms right as a share holder and how should I proceed? I already have a POA and a living will and I went to HPD gave them a copy the POA can you suggest anything else that could help me make this happen please. Thank you
  • Our by laws states to be an officer of the board of directors, you must be a shareholder and occupant. The president moved two months ago and no longer resides in the building. The president states it open to interpretation and he refuses to step down. What could be done to remove him as president?
  • I have a question and I am not sure if anyone can answer this but I live in a particulary small co-op, only 4 units. Our co-op was built in 2009 so the same 4 tenants have been there the entire time. One tenant has been deliquent with her maintenance payment for the past 6 years that we have been there. The management is constantly taking her back and forth to court for non payment. And they are very large amounts, $3k-$4k at a time. She normally doesn't paym for about 6 months and then after she has to go to court, pays the balance by the time she gets her tax return in March. She has been doing this same routine for 6 years. When will it be possible to get her out of the building because it is not fair to the other tentants who pay there rent on time. If the management didn't take her to court, I don't believe she would ever pay the rent at all. It has become a terrible pattern. On top of that, she makes the most complaints and tries to run the building to her liking. If anyone has any advice or a professional that we can speak with to get her out of the building, please let me know.
  • I live in a co-op in Westchester County, NY. We were told in October/November that a new boiler would be installed during the winter which would affect the heat and hot water. As far as I know everyone was pretty patient considering the weather conditions. The heat was not a problem as much as the hot water which is still a major problem in a large number of apartments but not all. I have sent many emails to complain about the water being cold - in order to get it hot it needs to run for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes (what a terrible waste of water). Nothing has been done thus far (5 months). Can I open an escrow account to deposit my monthly maintenance fee until something is done?? Thank you for your help.
  • in a coop where you don't pay your annual maintenance can the board forcelose on your coop/shares? This property has been vacant and shares have not signed over to coop association. 30 day notice letter sent already
  • My neighbor has been harassing me for about a year now. He's called the police on me on random times, punches his ceiling, curses at me and blasts his music. He's basically harassing me. He's been known to deface our property as well. The Board and Management are aware of this and think he's nuts. They don't want him there, but they don't do anything about it either. What gives? I can't enjoy my home the way I should, because I don't know what this person is capable of next. What gives?
  • First I am currently a tenant in my building and I want to buy my coop. Everything is almost done. Except bank is asking the last 3 years of financial statement and amendment. We got amendment thru AG. Now final step is Fin state. Management keep saying on progress , filing amendment, previous accountant made mistake and recently they said they are filing extension. So my bank asking 1120 but they said last 3 year was mistake. Can I get transcript from IRS? What my seller can do as a shaheholder in this case.
  • Do they have the power to summons or find about a pet any shareholder or senior citizen
  • I am a shareholder for 25 years and I would like to know if I have the right to know the name of a shareholder that made a complaint about me so that I can proceed with having my lawyer send them a cess and desist letter?
  • I live in a coop and we're are going to have a board election. I want to know if it is legal for the superintendent to ask for votes to the shareholders.
  • I am a coop shareholder, uninvited for ten years now in annual shareholders meeting and required to pay a monthly sublet fee for ten years now without any board resolution, a copy of which I have been asking many times for a long time now. Can I retrieve the sublet fees - they sent me an annual financial report two years ago, and only me was paying the sublet fee even if so many other shareholders were renting their apartments to other people - only the whole year total of sublet fees paid by me appear in the annual financial statement two years ago. I What justice can I get out of this situation?
  • My parents are shareholders of the apartment I currently reside. In February I had received notice from management that I had 15 days to either put carpet/rugs or padding. I complied and got padding on the floors (Quietwalk- installed by a GC). The problem I've been having is the tenant under us. She bangs on my floors at all hours in the night stating that she hears us walking and we wake her up at 7am every day (I work). I email management every day letting them know of her constant harassing and all they say is "We're going to call her". Management came into my apartment and went into hers and the noise level is minimal (something tolerable as per what management witnessed). The tenant below is demanding that I install carpets in my bedroom because I wake her up. I don't know what to do anymore. I have kept notes of all the times she's banged on my floors and recordings of them too. I've come to the point that I want to proceed legally against the board and the tenant. What should I do?
  • When our building first went co-op in 1983, there was a no pet rule. In 2009, the board voted to allow dogs. Can the present board change the rule back to no pets, grandfathering the ones that are now in the building? Can the shareholders request a referendum of all shareholders on this issue, if the board does not want to change the rule?
  • Coop sold air rights 2016 (we have 26 apts) Gave tenants 6 months free maintenance Doing major construction which is taking longer but will give no update on what they are doing. Decrease maintenance than 6 months later raised it We paid off mortgage but haven't not received any paper work for taxes(property taxes we paid) Presidents will not speak No minutes of meetings Should we get a lawyer?
  • I had a accident on the property,which i had to settle with the insurance adjuster. Since then any problem i have from maintaince to complaints about above neighbor i have to have a board meeting and nothing is ever done about it. What should i do?
  • Can the board of director alone change the voting bylaw by a resolution to allow proxies?
  • I stumbled across your website seeking a solution to my particular coop problem. It seems like a wonderful tool. However, Checking the dates of all of the inquiries I see thst there are no recent inquiries and/or responses. Are you still up and running? If so, How do I sign up as a coop owner? Thank you. Walter
  • I own a top-floor coop unit. When I bought the place, the coop board promised to repair a hole in the roof above. They've been stalling ever since and we now live in an apartment that is a health hazard, with water running down the walls into electrical sockets, black mold on the walls and in the air, and completely saturated walls that will have to be replaced. However, after close to a decade, the board has done almost nothing and the problem has gotten worse. I got a lawyer to write them a letter urging action and they lied in their letter of response. The lawyer told me it will cost me a lot of money I may not recoup if I take the board to court to get the repairs. I've also tried calling 311 and even contacting the mayor's office but still no action. The board president also told me they can no longer communicate with me because I sent a lawyer's letter. The building management company tells me they have been pushing for repairs for a long time. The board says building management didn't do that. But the board also doesn't mind that building management didn't tell them (if there's any truth to that). How can I get them to fix the leak in the roof? I feel I'm out of options. Can the board really refuse to communicate with me - doesn't that infringe my rights as a shareholder? Considering the board and building management have allowed the problem to exacerbate over many years, are they not accountable for being negligent? Aren't there any laws protecting the environment I have to live in? If I was a renter, leaking water and mold would be grounds to withhold rent. But as an owner, I can't find anything legally protecting me. Any advice you can provide would be most appreciated - thank you!
  • anonymous: if im trying to sell my coop apartment and based on my agents review and requirements of the boards, the buyer passed all the requirements and yet rejected by boards. What can I do? I have been told that Boards will not give any reasons why. Is that true that shareholders has no right to know whats the reason?
  • I live on the fifth floor of our COOP - under the roof. I had several extensive leaks which damaged the ceilings and walls of three rooms of my apartment. Our roof is 18 years old and initially was done very cheaply in comparison with the neighboring roofs done in the same time. I invited our COOP President to see the damages in my apartment and we proceeded to the roof to see the places from which a water was entering my apartment. Since invited roofer repair job, done before over my portion of the roof consisted only from very thin layer of tar, was not effective but very expensive - I offered our President to do repair myself. I done it in March-May 2019 using: 5 Alluminum W-P Repair Tapes(each $16.45),Rusto Spray Aluminum $4.27,Caulk – PL375 Heavy Duty 10 oz $2.77 and DAP Roof Water Sealant Black 10.1 oz $5.28. Totaling with the tax $102.95 I was waiting for 6 month to see - if my repairs stopped new leakages from places I repaired and in November of 2019 I asked our COOP President about reimbursement for material I used ($102.95). I provided him with the original checks from Home Depot. I offered him to send the pictures of repaired portions of the roof. He even can observe the roof repairs by himself - because he lives on 3rd floor of the same building. But I did not get no reimbursement check from him and no reply ( even I emailed him twice). What can I do if anything? If you can give me your advice please? I can not seek for professional attorney advice because his fee will be much more that $102.95 our COOP owns me, and I am 74 old citizen after all. thank you,
  • Does owner of coop have the right to get response as to why the board turned down buyer they accepted offer from. iN this instance the buyers offer is a cash deal and the beer has strong financials. Does owner have a right to know why reject occurred. This is th 2nd time a beer has been rejected by th board
  • Can the doorman (staff worker) be on the condominium board if he works in the building that he owns two apartments?
  • Owning a coop in New York is a ripoff. When your neighbors cause you damage over and over you foot the bill. Your rights are violated daily. Corrupt coop board and property manager. I hope I can sell and buy a house!!
  • On July 2019 I bought a Co-Op unit located at Jamaica, NY. As directed by NYC DOF, I've notified managing agent and Coop Board via email to include my unit as primary residence in the Change/renewal form due by February 15, 2020 so that, unit become eligible for Co-Op/Condo tax abatement credit for Tax year 2020-21. However, the eligible list provided by management my unit was not included in the eligible list. When I inquire the management about this, they informed NYC DOF didn't approve my unit to get primary residence abatement credit. I've contacted NYC DOF in person and online about this matter. NYC DOF confirmed via email that, Management didn't include my unit in the change form submitted electronically for 2020-21 tax year. Later on Coop Board approved a special assessment for capital improvement and adjust the abatement benefit. As I didn't get abatement benefit because of Management negligence I informed management that I'll only the difference between special assessment and abatement credit. Unfortunately, I didn't get any response from the management after several attempts. Can anyone suggest what I can do to get that abatement credit? Thanks in advance for help.