Creating Sound, Legal Community Rules Staying Within the Law

Every co-op or condo has rules and regulations that have been put in place to define the board’s authority and limitations of power, as well as outline the rules for the community, residents or shareholders. And although the governing documents are intended to work in the best interest of everyone in the building, they sometimes pose problems. Especially, when rules are amended or created and they conflict with each other, create problems for residents, or are against the law.

Where Rules Come From

Before a community has a set of rules in place, they’ve likely evolved over time. Many rules are somewhat standard, but some are created in a response to the unique needs of the building or HOA. In drafting a co-op or condo’s original rules and regulations, most developers and sponsors rely on their attorneys.

In New York, Attorney General regulations require that an association’s rules and regulations be included in offering plans. These regulations do not require a specific format or content however, according to Stephen M. Lasser, Esq., of Stark & Stark in Manhattan.

“Even though a specific format is not required, the rules and regulations contained in most offering plans are very similar,” says Lasser. “This is because many lawyers have an ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude. In other words, many lawyers copy the rules and regulations from prior offering plans rather than starting from scratch. This works out well most of the time, but can be problematic if the form they copy is not updated to address issues that are unique to a particular association or changes in laws and technology that may affect an association.”

For example, the rules and regulations might have been drafted prior to cell phones, and therefore fail to address an issue which might affect a particular building, such as talking loudly on a cell phone in the lobby.


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  • I was recently at our shore cono in NJ and was yelling for about 2 minutes at my kids. Then later in the day at my husband for spraying bug spray onto the windows( he thought it ws each time it wasonlya few minutes and i recieved a complaint notice. Can they really tell me how loud to talk??
  • yes they can
  • You state that a two-thirds shareholder majority is required to amend a proprietary lease. Could you provide the authority for this requirement?
  • Hello. i am suffering harassment and discrimination at the hands of my Co-op Board. I have a disability - Bipolar Disorder. I am on Social Security disability. Can you help me? Thank you.