With a worldwide fiscal crisis in full swing and many New Yorkers more stressed than usual over lost jobs, pay cuts, and dwindling assets, the last thing any co-op or condo community needs is the additional expense and acrimony of a lawsuit—especially when both can often be avoided.
According to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (NYC Bar), alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is “a voluntary approach to settling disputes instead of going to court. A neutral person—a trained mediator—facilitates negotiations between participants in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute.”
To this end, the bar association established the “Co-op and Condo Mediation Project,” a program designed to help shareholders, managing agents, boards of directors, and others settle residential disputes without drag-down, drawn-out court hearings. The service is available in situations where all parties to a dispute are prepared to seek mediation.
“Although the program is not designed or intended to resolve all such disputes, it is ideal for what are essentially quality of life disputes that, for lack of a quick resolution, too often escalate into lengthy and contentious litigation,” according to bar association member Michael T. Manzi, who is with the Manhattan law firm of Balber Pickard Maldonado & Van Der Tuin, PC.
The “Co-op and Condo Mediation Project” is a joint effort by two bar association committees—the Cooperative and Condominium Law Committee and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee. “Neighbors may find themselves involved in conflict over any number of concerns, including the need for quiet or the use of common space,” said Dan Weitz, chair of the association’s ADR committee. “This special program offers neighbors (and the boards they often ask to intervene) a fast, inexpensive and confidential process through which to achieve durable solutions to their conflict.”