Although the budget and tax cuts occupy the public agenda in these recessionary times, housing is still as big an issue as ever. Many housing-related bills, including those specifically related to co-ops and condos, have been introduced at both state and local levels. Some of these bills are new, but others have been reintroduced. Here's a look at some of the pending legislation working its way through the hallowed halls of governance in New York.
Up in Albany
Large numbers of housing-related bills are introduced in Albany every year. “There are presently over 200 bills in Albany right now that deal with real estate,” says Greg Carlson, the executive director of the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives & Condominiums (FNYHC) and head of Carlson Realty in Forest Hills. “About 66 deal specifically with condominiums and cooperatives. Perhaps two or three [of those] may see the light of day.”
A search of the bills before the Assembly in early April revealed a cross section of bills, such as A02163, which would require boards to act on applications to purchase condos or co-ops within 45 days, with failure to do so resulting in automatic approval; A00797, which would create a special sub-part of the housing part within the civil court system to handle cases involving co-ops and condos; and A02195, which would “extend the requirements for property certification condition disclosure statements to sales of condominiums and cooperative apartments.”
For Carlson, the bill to watch in Albany is S00395, which would “create the Office of the Cooperative and Condominium Ombudsman, authorize the residential unit tax, and establish the Office of the Cooperative and Condominium Ombudsman Fund.” The office would educate co-op and condo owners about their rights and responsibilities, mediate problems, conduct hearings and monitor elections.
Some people in the co-op and condo community welcome such a bill, believing it would be recourse from abusive boards; but others fear that it would just create another layer of state bureaucracy. There are already offices of condo/co-op ombudsmen in several states.