LIEB BLOG

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Showing posts with label cooperative apartment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooperative apartment. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

New Law: Co-ops under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019

As of December 22, 2021, cooperatives have received 8 exemptions from the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which otherwise restricts landlords' rights as to their tenants.


When the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act came out, we repeatedly tried to explain to co-op boards, property managers (managing agents), real estate brokers, local NAR boards, and courts, amongst others, that this law applied to co-ops regardless that it clearly was not the intent of the legislature. To a non-lawyer intent of the legislature matters, to a lawyer the rules of statutory interpretation matter and you never get to the intent of the legislature if the statute is clear on its face, which the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act is. You see, co-ops are landlords and their shareholder-owner-occupiers are tenants. This is longstanding settled law, which  created a huge predicament for co-ops. 


Thankfully, roughly 2 years later, the law is finally fixed as follows:

  • GOL 7-108(1-a), the deposit or advance limit of one month’s rent will no longer apply to owner-occupied cooperative apartments;
  • RPL 226-c, the notice requirement for rent increases of 5% or more / non-renewal will no longer apply to owner-occupied cooperative apartments;
  • RPL 238-a(1)(a), the preclusion of charging fees to review applications will no longer apply to  compensate managing agents and/or transfer agents for the processing, review, or acceptance of such prospective tenant’s application to become a shareholder of such co-op; 
  • RPL 238-a(1)(b), the cap on fees for applications of $25 is inapplicable to applications from prospective shareholders to co-ops, but the limitation of only charging up to the actual cost remains;  
  • RPL 238-a(2), late fees are now permitted on owner-occupied cooperative, but only up to 8% of monthly maintenance fee and only where the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement is updated to reflect such percentage;
  • RPAPL 702(2), the limited definition of rent for purposes of a judgment in a summary proceeding is inapplicable to owner-occupied cooperatives to the extent that the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement is updated to reflect a different definition;  
  • RPL 235-e, the 5-day non-payment of rent notice does not need to be sent by certified mail to co-op owner-occupants to the extent that the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement is updated to reflect a different method of serving notice; and 
  • RPL 234, attorneys’ fees may be awarded to either party in the event of a default judgment concerning a co-op owner-occupant to the extent that the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement is updated to reflect the availability of such fees. 

We can't stress enough that half of these new updates require an updated proprietary lease / occupancy agreement to become effective. As to the other half, co-ops would also be wise to expressly provide for their rights under an updated proprietary lease / occupancy agreement. That all being said and even if a co-op does update its proprietary lease / occupancy agreement, it will remain a landlord and subject to landlord / tenant laws for every other law that restricts landlords' actions in NYS.




Friday, June 11, 2021

NYS Bill Exempts Co-Ops from Certain Landlord-Tenant Laws

On June 10, 2021, the New York State Legislature passed Assembly Bill A350 / Senate Bill S5105C (“Bill”) which set forth exemptions for cooperative housing corporations (co-ops) in relation to their tenants who are unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders. Once signed by the Governor, the Bill takes effect immediately.

While unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders of co-op units are generally considered “tenants” under their respective proprietary leases or occupancy agreements, if the bill becomes law, co-ops will be exempted from the usual landlord-tenant requirements and prohibitions set forth below:

  • Security Deposit or Advance (GOL §7-108): A co-op will be allowed to collect more than one month’s rent for a deposit or advance from tenants who are unit owners, purchasers, or shareholders of owner-occupied units;
  • Notice of Non-Renewal or Notice of Rent Increase (RPL §226-c): A co-op is no longer required to provide the RPL §226-c Notice of Non-Renewal or Notice of Rent Increase to tenants who are unit owners or shareholders of the co-op;
  • Application Fees (RPL §238-a): A co-op may demand any payment, fee, or charge necessary to compensate a managing agent and/or transfer agent for processing, reviewing, or accepting a tenant’s application where such tenant would become prospective unit owner or shareholder;
  • Credit and Background Check Fees (RPL §238-a): A co-op may charge more than $20, but such fees should not exceed the actual cost;
  • Monthly Maintenance Fees for Late Payments (RPL §238-a): A co-op may charge up to 8% of the monthly maintenance fee for the late payment of such fee if provided for in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement;
  • Rent” in a Summary Proceeding (RPL §702): A co-op may demand more than the rent in a summary proceeding against a unit owner or shareholder provided that the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement allows for the recovery of other fees, charges, penalties or assessments in a summary proceeding;
  •  5-Day Notice of Non-Payment (RPL §235-e(d)): A co-op may provide another method of sending notice by mail other than certified mail as long as it is set forth in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement; and
  • Attorneys’ Fees upon a Default Judgment (RPL §234(2)): A co-op may be awarded attorney’s fees in the event of default judgment against a unit owner or shareholder if the recovery of such fees are set forth in the proprietary lease or occupancy agreement.

Essentially, the Bill aims to correct the unintended effects of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 towards unit owners or shareholders of co-ops who are “tenants” only because of their proprietary leases or occupancy agreements.

Do you agree with the Legislature’s corrections? Is it too little, too late?

For pending litigation, it sure seems that this new law affirms that co-ops that previously breached the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act as applicable to tenants, are liable, no?




Thursday, June 03, 2021

Co-op Loans At-Risk Based on Legislation that Passed the US House

A law that passed the House in May and is before the Senate (The Comprehensive Debt Collection Improvement Act or “CDCIA”could force lenders to slam the breaks on issuing mortgages to co-op purchasers.

This law reverses a 2019 decision from the US Supreme Court, Obduskey V. McCarthy, and would cause the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to apply to businesses engaged in non-judicial foreclosures, which applies to co-op mortgage loans.

In other words, the CDCIA would hamstring co-op lenders' ability to utilize third-parties to collect their loans (e.g., the law limits the number of times a debtor may be reached, it requires that contact be ceased when the debtor so requests, it creates tons of exposure to damages and attorneys' fees, etc.). It would also suppress important information from a credit report, such as forbidding credit scoring models from using medical debt as a negative factor.

As you can certainly deduce, if the CDCIA passes the Senate and is signed by the President, lenders will likely have stricter qualification terms and may even raise rates on co-op mortgage loans that qualify.

Are the protections in the CDCIA worth the law's chilling effect on co-op loans? Should the Senate change the law? Should it just vote it down?


Do you think the CDCIA will lead to fewer co-op transactions?




Monday, January 20, 2020

Eye on Real Estate Q&A: Co-op Disapproval of Sale and Suing the Board

On this week's episode of Eye on Real Estate, January 18, 2020, we were asked about suing a cooperative board for refusing a sale by creating an absolute floor price, which unit owners had to obtain in order to sell units to third-party purchasers.

Initially, we discussed the business judgment rule, which generally protects boards from lawsuits as long as the board acted in good faith and in accordance with it's power. 

However, there can be a case against the board where the board created an absolute floor price in bad faith or if the board created the absolute floor price beyond its powers as set forth in the bylaws. 

As the courts explain, the test is whether the board's floor is "a provision merely postponing sale during the option period," which is permissible or, if it is, instead, "an effective prohibition against transferability itself," which is impermissible. 

So, if you are being blocked on price, consider a lawsuit after you obtain and review the bylaws. 

For a great explanation of this issue, see Oakley v. Longview Owners, Inc.