Understanding the Condo Act Governing By the Book

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.

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26 Comments

  • We are a group of majority unit owners in a condominium in N.Y. having problems of removing the Board of Managers, due to the Board of Managers failing to function the operation in the right course: lack in compliance with the By-Laws. We, as the majority owners , have signed a petition to vote them out. We did everything necessary in accordance with the By-Laws. However a few members tried to influence the other board members to refuse the resignations collectively. We also send the Board of Managers another petition to call for a special meeting for such action within certain period of time, according to the By-Laws. Again, the Board has ignored the petition so far. The Board has also tried to get the Management company to be on their side. The management company tried to get a lawyer, claimed as one of the Condominium, involved with this case. In anyway, they tried to stop the removal of the Board of Managers. We are only unit owners, not rich people, and can't afford to get a lawyer to help us. It could cost a fortune to do that. Please kindly give us some advises. Thank you in advance.
  • I also Live in a condo in NY and experiencing the same problems, were you provided with any information about ho to handle this???
  • We have a Board of Manager, who is not following the laws within the offering plan and the Condo act. No one else in the building wants to get involved, and I need help in bringing this person to justice. Who should I turn to first..before I turn to a lawyer?
  • Are there any upcoming courses in New York State for lawyers regarding Condo law? Thank you.
  • is the resident of the Board of Managers required to vote on issues that come before the Board
  • I live in a 72 unit condo. We have major leaks in our building mostly around windows and air conditioner sleeves. The board hired an engineer that some unit owners heard from other buildings in the area, to stay away from. The engineer wants to re brick the whole building, change windows and sleeves, and re construct our terraces. We have a block and brick construction and very private terraces because of the brick wall and railing. He wants to change the terraces by taking down the brick wall and putting up some kind of railings with a panel instead of brick. The Board of managers never asked the unit owners opinion on who to hire and what the scope of work we can afford. We do not have a reserve fund and the cost of this restoration will be about 4 million dollars. I was told we have to come up with the money, which will be from 60 thousand to 80 thousand a unit within two years. Is this legal? Can the board of managers make this decision without homeoners approval?
  • Does a small condo (14 units) have to hire a management co. or can it be self-managed AND with managers paid, definitely less than management cos.? I've been looking for a definite/authoritative answer to this question for a number of years. Anyone? THX all.
  • SAME QUESTION AS LP ANY WAY TO GET HELP WITHOUT GOING LEGAL AND MAKING IT HARDER FOR US TO SELL HOMES
  • how can condo owners contest a condo board without hireing a lawyer? are their rules inpeachable?can we contest a fine? They asses owners to pay legal fees if we start procedings. that's us paying their legal fees.
  • I have been frustrated by my condo boards inaction on my requests. They requested an engineers report on my rennovation, and I have submitted to them as well as their engineer for review...but can't get them to sign off on it. I am wasting precious construction time and dollars. what can I do?
  • Can the management company for my condominium legally refused to tell me what company insures my building?
  • OUR BOARD MEMBERS ARE ALLOWING RESIDENTS TO BUILD ON COMMON PROPERTY. THEY ALSO RAISED OUR CHARGES 10% SUDDENLY. IS THERE A CAP ON THE PERCENTAGE.
  • We are experiencing many of these same issues. The management company is in cohoots with the non-resident building manager (who should be a resident), the non-resident president of the board and the union rep. They are harassing the good staff and rewarding those who do as the super directs--such as collecting proxies for the board. What can we do? Who can we get to help us. They are also mismanaging funds and not maintaining the building.
  • One of our condo Board members refuses to divulge the contents of a long-term garage lease that the Board entered into....This Board member is a lbanking awyer and many of us suspect wrongdoing....what can we do to obtain this information
  • can the condo board change the reserve fund while the home loan i was closing with a fha failed because the reseve was suspebded
  • Perhaps a unique case worthy of legal assistance on Wednesday, February 08, 2012 9:09 AM
    I am not certain where to stop managing this matter and seek professional help. I believe that the case is worthy of significant publicity and could have impact on the way's condo boards abuse foreclosure actions. It is also important because the board is using said action as a form of harassment dating back (and documented) over two years. For over 2 years we have requested access to the books and records of the association as the special assessment legal fund was still being collected after the legal bills were paid in full. The board has never replied to the over 25 emails sent to each member and the management company requesting examination. Said examination would prove that the special; assessment was used for general operating expenses, transferred without member notification or votes to other accounts- basically not returned to members as the law requires. I believe that the board owes us around $7,000. Additionally, by resorting to retaining counsel to file a foreclosure action against us - without following the law regarding inspection- was a breach of fiduciary responsibility knowing that the expenses would be passed on to the members while a free alternative was available to close the issue. This is part of a long history of harassment, withholding FEMA insurance reimbursements after singling us out for 'special work inspections" and multiple submissions of paid invoices. We were the only unit which had to go through these hoops. This is one of many actions which fall outside 'true business judgement rule' and are actionable against the board as individuals. Afte receiving notice in November, I have asked they the 'debt be verified' as foreclosures are considered an act to collect a debt and are therefore subject to Fair Debt....Act. My requests to validate the debt included inspection of the funds where our payments were entered into (special assessment and monthly fees) and were only offered the management companies internal payment runs- not the records and receipts called for under the condo act. For over 2 months they have failed to respond to my continued requests to arrange inspection of the materials so we can move forward and sort this out. There are more details, but I could use some advice on how to proceed or where to find an atty who would like to correct and receive a part of the award from litigation against the board and the individuals (whose actions fall outside the business judgement rule)
  • I have a condo, building old, early 1900’s. HOA covers common area, heat and water and maintenance. Building is being worked on during the summer months and the road behind the building by the city which is having excavation work done as well. The work in the building I do not know why but the water is shut down various days, not continually but different days in a week and minimal seven times within a six or eight week period and each time for 8 hours. A "unit" owner calls management that possible running water is heard from somewhere and it might be from my unit. This is July 25 which so happens to be one of the days the water is shut down for the 8 hours. I got messages over the weekend with request from the management to check my unit. I got the messages on Monday and called the management. Had a plumber go to the unit on the 27 to check for issues. No running water but found clogging an issue. Again, another call to association from the same anonymous unit owner concerning the same issue, and I had a plumber go back out Aug 1 no running water. Due to the calls and concerns of my unit with water and they assume the water was running for 9 days that the water bill is my expense. Of course after the bill was obtained they tried to figure out what or who could cause the billing to be so high. By the time they figured out they should check the building it was at the end of September and of course all of the complaints happened in the end of July and first of August. Building in the mean time was still shutting down the water for various days. The building inspection included checking all plumbing in every unit and common areas which they state they found no water issues which included my unit. So since they could not pin point where the water usage or where it might of come from it was then decided by management the bill would be responsible by me and charged and added o my condo fees over and above my monthly fees. Now if water was running for 9 days in any unit of the building and they have a plumbing service don’t you think it should have been a reason to call the contracted service to address any such claims? The Management made assumptions and with process of elimination they decided it was my unit’s cause of the excessively high water bill and that was that. No further decision or proof needed and it was now mandatory I had to pay it or they would put a lien on my property by the by law “Delinquency and Pursuant to Mass General Law 183A Section 6 and 6c”. The Building has 62 units and is a high-rise. Now they have taken the total bill and subtracted out the overage and came up with a balance of a little more than 10,000 and of course legal fees attached to the balance. Question: Is this legal for them to take a bill that is from a common expense for the entire building and place responsibility of the bill payment to one unit if they have no actual proof or even a visual or any verification from the plumbing service contracted for the building? Upon immediate decision form Management that I would be responsible for payment they sent a letter requesting payment immediately and in full. After 60 days of non-payment of the bill they sent it into collection to be pursued on legal ground with no identification of what the charges were for and the demand payment letters reflected it to be just typical condo fees that I was not making. What is the real kicker is just recently a general letter came in from management informing everyone the info from the annual meeting for the association. The decision was to increase everyone's condo fees for a percentage which was reasonable. The reasons stated were for building maintenance and pointing all the corners of the building structure, replacing laundry room floor and this is the kicker, "REPAIRING WATER LEAKS IN COMMON AREAS". I do not think they realize how this sounds when they previously stated that the entire building was inspected and they found no water leaks but now they
  • HUD has jurisdiction over these condos, so a good place to start would be reporting the problem to HUD
  • I requested a copy of the annual report of the receipts and expenditures of the condominium. The President of the association ( we are a 13 unit self-self managed building) informed me that he is waiting for the bookkeeper to prepare the document. Is this acceptable ? According to the By-Laws is states by a CPA.
  • NEVER BUY INTO A CONDO AGAIN!!! on Saturday, June 08, 2013 3:13 PM
    Heated in NYC....we get the same answer from our manager, and have been getting that answer now for 2 years. Finally I wrote the CPA and he gave me some monetary info that made it clear our manager was stealing. So, she sent a list of numbers, no back up, purely fabricated. Now what, can we sue, or just fire her? Funny thing is, people don't want to fire her, they are afraid of making waves. I guess they figure the next person would steal as well. NEVER BUY INTO A CONDO AGAIN!!!
  • Are there any guidelines as to whether the Monthly Board of Managers Meeting is open to the homeowners?
  • Offer Letter clearly states that unit owner may decorate and make changes to condo unit provided that one does not affect the building's electrical and mechanical controls. Our Board and Management Company will not allow painting or any work in the unit, including decoration, if one does not pay a deposit of $500 as security and hire only a contractor that has liability coverage for at least $1M. I, myself, am not authorized to paint my own unit. This appears to be encroachement and abuse of authority,
  • DOES ARTICLE 9-B(NY CONDOMINIUM ACT) SPECIFY THE NUMBER OF VOTES REQUIRED TO AMEND THE BY-LAWS, DECLARATION, RULES & REGULATIONS OF A CONDOMINIUM ??
  • We own a condo on the east end of Long Island, the condo board and the management have been tampering with elections to do away with board members that rightfully challenge their actions. One board member ran against another board member before her term was even up to knock him off the board. In addition to this there were brand new owners on the ballot that never even showed up for the meeting. None of the homeowners knew them yet somehow they had all these votes. The management company is running their real estate business out of the office and they are negligent in managing the property. Their priority is to buy and sell. Some of the board members like this because they get their units rented, however it is a true conflict of interest, for instance if a renter is not observing condo rules it is forgiven because she is making a profit. So the homeowners lose and the management profits. In addition to this the management hires her boyfriends son, her son, her son's best friend to work, and brings the baseball team of her son to stay on our property and use the facilities. The list goes on..... Please help!
  • I live at the Greenhouse condo and I am new elected as well as four other members. Recently we tried to change the signatures in bank accounts, but wasn't able to. According to the bank manager we need a certificate of unincorporated in order to do anything. We are a nonprofit building established in 1980. A declaration and an amended declaration was sent to the bank manager that we are a condo and not a co-op. My question is do we need to obtain a certificate of incorporate/unincorporated? If so, what does this do for our building?
  • where are the answers to these questions??? my board does what they want with our money, constant assessments, common charge raises and no longer sends out minutes or budgets to us as past members have. where do we get help???