Co-operative and Condominium Law
The Co-operative and Condominium Practice Group draws on the knowledge of seasoned real estate and commercial litigation attorneys who have represented co-op and condo boards, owners, shareholders, property management companies, developers and other professionals and entities involved with co-operative and condominium properties in Westchester, throughout the Hudson Valley and New York City.
Bleakley Platt is distinguished from other co-op/condo practices by our strong team of counselors and litigators known for effective representation in the areas of commercial finance, insurance, landlord-tenant, construction, housing discrimination, tax certiorari, labor and employment law.
The firm’s litigation and insurance coverage attorneys work closely with the co-operative and condominium attorneys to resolve client problems in a cost-effective manner.
We serve as general counsel to co-ops/condos and are familiar with all processes required to establish new entities, assist with financing through our well-established network of financial and banking sources, and serve any and all legal and transactional needs specific to co-ops and condominiums. In addition, we provide all the specialized services any co-op/condo will need.
We frequently prepare and serve notices to cure lease defaults, either for non-payment of maintenance, violations of the house rules or other objectionable conduct and prosecute eviction or enforcement proceedings.
We have counseled numerous co-ops and condos that fell into financial distress and helped set the co-op/condo back on sound financial footing, working closely with financial institutions and other interested parties.
Counseling boards to achieve a financially healthy budget, including refinancing high-interest “junk bond” mortgages with more favorable and reputable financial institutions.
Represented several condos and co-ops in need of funding for major structural repairs, negotiating financial packages to meet their short and long term needs.
The firm works regularly with several financial institutions, including National Cooperative Bank to refinance co-op’s underlying mortgages to reduce interest costs, increase reserves and provide funds for capital improvements.
Bleakley Platt attorneys have effectively handled, mediated and resolved various common complaints in co-ops and condos, including noise, smoke/odors and other complaints, as well as complaints related to violations of house rules. We obtain results for the community with an understanding that the ultimate goal is to restore a harmonious environment.
A 200 unit co-op retained Bleakley Platt to sue the sponsor and former managing agent for financial and asset mismanagement. We went to court, and obtained a settlement of $442,500 for the co-op.
A fire devastated a pre-war White Plains co-op that had been built with craftsmanship and period details that greatly enhanced the co-op’s aesthetics and market value. Bleakley Platt worked diligently with the managing agent, members of the board, the architect and the reconstruction contractor when the insurance company determined it would only provide coverage at the cost of a building of medium quality. We fought to protect the special quality of the co-op and have the building reconstructed in accordance with the quality craftsmanship as originally built. We assisted the displaced residents and their individualinsurers, fighting with the co-op’s insurer and the insurers of the persons responsible for the fire. The total recovery to the co-op was $1.7 million, and the co-op retained its architectural beauty and market value.
The firm represented a 78 unit co-op in obtaining a much lower interest, fixed rate mortgage, eliminating the nearly “junk bond” mortgage the co-op had been forced into years earlier. Considerable attention was paid to cleaning up the co-op’s finances, carefully planning capital projects and implementing cost-saving measures wherever possible. The results were a lower interest rate, a fixed interest rate, lower monthly payments and several hundred thousand dollars deposited into the reserve fund.
We helped a 200 unit co-op refinance its mortgage, which allowed the co-op to purchase the sponsor’s unsold shares, thus eliminating a sponsor from the co-op.
We represented a 54 unit condominium in need of funding for major structural repairs to balconies, courtyards, exterior walls and the roof. We negotiated a financial package, working closely with the board and our network of banking clients. We designed a plan whereby the mortgage would be paid with a five year assessment, which allowed the condo to start the work before the mortgage was closed.
We defended a Condominium Board of Managers’ decision to approve the installation of a cellular tower to the roof, which generated more than $60,000 per year for the condo. We vigorously opposed litigation brought by a handful of residents and won a dismissal of the case under the “business judgment rule,” which protects most business decisions by condo Boards from judicial review.
Noise complaints are a common occurrence in buildings of any kind. For one 120 unit co-op, two conflicting lifestyles created a situation that was handled badly by both parties. After two incidents when the police were called, our firm was retained to mediate a peaceful arrangement. Despite an initial refusal to cooperate, the parties agreed to split the cost of carpeting and have resided peacefully as neighbors ever since.
We worked with the board to create successful strategies to amend by-laws and proprietary leases to impose a flip tax on sellers. We organized and ran of a series of small group meetings to educate shareholders about the benefits of a flip tax, combined with narrowly drafted amendments to the by-laws and proprietary lease. The amendments were successfully incorporated into the by-laws and proprietary lease.
The firm has experience in advising condo boards on how to amend by-laws to improve residents’ quality of life and to remove onerous regulations created in the sponsor’s initial declaration and by-laws. These amendments included limiting the number of rentals permitted, placing additional screening requirements on tenants, establishing a new definition of what constitutes the condominium “unit” and what is “a common element,” placing responsibility for damage claims on the unit owners rather than on the condominium and changing the process for collecting delinquent common charges.
The above is a small sample of representative matters. The coop/condo practice has experience in all aspects of co-op/condo law including:
- Board of Directors and Shareholders Disputes
- Buy/Sell Agreements
- Boards of Directors and Shareholder Disputes | “Business Judgment Rule”
- Condominium Association Law
- Co-Operative Corporation Law, Including Proper Organization and Filings of Entity
- Construction and Contractor’s Claims
- Conversion from Rental to Co-op/Condo
- Discrimination| Fair Housing | Human Rights Disputes
- Drafting Amendments to Bylaws
- Employee and Union Issues
- Environmental Law
- Eviction Proceedings
- Fiduciary Issues | Board of Directors
- Financing for Purchase, Improvements, Refinancing
- Homeowners Associations
- Holder of Unsold Shares/Sponsor issues
- Human Rights/Discrimination/Fair Housing Act
- Insurance Coverage Issues
- Labor Laws | Scaffolding Issues
- Landlord/Tenant Issues
- Leasing, including Lease Terminations
- Licensing Agreements and Regulatory Agencies
- Noise Claims
- Parking Issues and Agreements
- Shareholder Disputes
- Smoke/Odor Complaints
- Sponsor Issues, Disputes and Litigation
- Summary Proceedings
- Water Leak Claims
- Tax Certiorari
- Union Staffing Levels, Negotiations and Disputes
- Variances | Municipal Applications
- Violations of Local Municipal Codes
- Zoning and Land Use | SEQRA
Bleakley Platt is committed to our clients’ success and believes that in some instances, an alternative fee arrangement may be preferable to a traditional hourly fee structure. Such arrangements require approval by the Firm’s management. To learn more about the Firm’s policy regarding alternative fee arrangements, click here or speak with a partner.
For questions regarding our Co-operative and Condominium Practice Group, please contact Partner James Glatthaar at (914) 287-6159.