Cooperative and Condominium Law

Weiss & Weiss has extensive expertise in the area of Cooperative and Condominium Law, a specialized area of Real Estate Law that is in many ways unique to New York State. A cooperative is a corporation formed for the purposes of common ownership, where the New York State Attorney General has accepted the relevant Offering Plan for filing. An owner of a cooperative apartment owns a particular number of shares in the corporation and is designated a proprietary lease whereby the shareholder may occupy a particular unit in the building. A condominium also requires that an Offering Plan be accepted for filing with the Attorney General of the State of New York. However, a condominium is legally considered real property, whereby a unit owner obtains a Unit Deed identifying a particular unit to be occupied and a percentage of common interest (i.e. common areas of the building such as the lobby, hallways, roof, etc.) in the building that is owned.

Those who own a cooperative or condominium unit have common legal responsibilities, such as payment of maintenance or common charges, adhering to house rules, compliance with renovation and subleasing restrictions and the like. In the event that a unit owner does not abide by the rules and regulations of the organization, our firm has broad experience in responding to defaults and enforcing compliance, by the issuance of the proper legal notices as required by the relevant Offering Plan. Said procedures may lead to litigation or auctioning of the units, depending upon the development of the case. The procedures for prosecuting default procedures differ, depending if the building is a cooperative or a condominium, and even vary building to building. We carefully review the governing documents to confirm that we are proceeding in compliance with the legal notice and other requirements of any particular building and in compliance with current caselaw.

Our Cooperative and Condominium practice comprises advising clients on their governing documents, drafting revisions to same and facilitating their enactment. We also provide legal advice with respect to situations arising between shareholders or unit owners with the cooperative corporation or condominium board of managers or as concerns third parties with which the cooperative or condominium deals such as vendors, lenders and the municipality in which the property is located. Our partners have drafted and negotiated vendor contracts, such as for the installation or improvement of elevators, laundry room appliances and other equipment servicing the building, building improvements such as common area renovations or contracts with managing agents and other building vendors. In addition, we have attended and conducted annual shareholder and unit owner meetings on behalf of our clients.

We are available to assist our cooperative clients when the underlying mortgage on the property is being refinanced. We will collect the documents required by the lender to complete its due diligence and obtain the payoff letter and the title report. Our attorneys assist in the clearance of title issues and providing documents from the cooperative as required by the lender. We also review and negotiate the loan documents prior to attending the closing. If requested, we represent the cooperative or condominium as the transfer agent in transactions between shareholders or unit owners and purchasers.

Our attorneys are uniquely qualified to navigate difficult relations between the sponsor and the board of a relatively newly developed cooperative or condominium. Disputes may arise with respect to board governance, construction defects, and noncompliance by the sponsor as to its obligations, potentially leading to litigation. We have prosecuted actions against sponsors, so that the building can run effectively. At times we partner with the Real Estate Financing Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office in order to insure the sponsor’s compliance with legal requirements.

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