Alteration Agreements The Do's and the Dont's

No one likes it when a neighbor has an ongoing renovation project that lasts for months on end, especially when the renovations may cause damage to your own apartment. Luckily, most buildings have a mechanism in place to fix this: the alteration agreement.

Starting the Process

When shareholders approach the prospect of a large-scale renovation, they should be prepared to meet with board members and building managers to negotiate the terms of the renovation as well as the plans themselves.

“If it’s major, you would consult with an architect or engineer first to draw up plans, then plans and specifications become guidelines for what needs to be done,” says Geoff Mazel, a partner with the Manhattan-based law firm of Hankin & Mazel, PLLC. “Then they are reviewed by the board, which may have their own architect or engineer make sure the plans don’t compromise anything in the building.”

Once plans are presented to a board, usually a contract called an alteration agreement is signed between the management company and/or the board and the shareholder.

“Alteration agreements are contracts between the shareholder and the building in which the shareholder is promising to do everything according to the law and code, and that building will not be damaged by the renovation,” says C. Jaye Berger, an attorney and principal with the Law Offices of C. Jaye Berger in Manhattan. “The shareholder cannot begin work without approval.”


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  • How does the 30-day response rule work? Does that mean the Board has give final yes/no within 30 days, or is it adequate if the Board simply responds but says more research (legal and architectural consultation, alterations agreement drawn up, etc) before final approval?