Unlike co-ops, which are governed by the business corporation law and the common law with respect to cooperative housing corporations, condominiums are really a creature of statute. The statute that gives authority to create condominiums is article 9-B of the Real Property Law, which is commonly known as the Condominium Act.
The New York Condo Act is to condominiums what the Business Corporation Law is to co-ops: a set of rules by which the boards and developers must abide in order to run their buildings fairly and legally.
“What the Condo Act does is, in it’s essence, is it sort of comprises the skeleton of what the condominium can be and what the limitations are in what a board can do and what a condominium’s governing documents can and should include,” says Robert Braverman of Braverman & Associates PC in Manhattan.
“It is a framework for the establishment and operation of condominiums in New York State,” adds David Berkey, an attorney with Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP in Manhattan. “It is not a common law type of a creature but one that can only be created pursuant to statute. You have to follow the provisions of the Condo Act and include in the declarations and bylaws those sections that must be required in 339-F and provisions concerning the bylaws are laid out in the act.”
While a lot of what the Condo Act spells out has more impact on new construction than existing condo communities, even the most long-standing New York City condos can benefit from understanding the act and the ways in which it affects them.