Q & A: Dealing with Criminal Elements

I am president of a co-op board in Queens, NY. It has come to my attention that a sexual predator moved in with his son, who owns the apartment. I informed my security team and they are watching him very closely since there are children living in this co-op. He is still on probation. I’d like to know if there is anything that we can do to legally remove him from the co-op.

—Concerned in Queens

“I will assume two facts in answering this question: First, that the cooperative in question has a proprietary lease or occupancy agreement containing standard language allowing members of a shareholder’s family to reside with him/her, and second, that the “sexual predator” referred to has not broken any rules of the cooperative and has not engaged in any illegal conduct or violated any restrictions imposed as a result of his criminal conviction and/or his release from prison, e.g., not living in proximity of schools, not registering, etc.,” says attorney Abbey F. Goldstein, who is with the law firm of Goldstein & Greenlaw in Kew Gardens.

“The answer, if those assumptions are correct, is “No.” There is nothing to be done to remove him from the premises so long as he resides with his son, who is a shareholder. Should the shareholder vacate, he would not be permitted to continue his occupancy.

“While the question does not address it, an often debated issue among board members who become aware of the sexual offender status of an occupant is whether or not to notify the residents of the buildings. To do so allows individuals, particularly parents, to exercise vigilance, but such notification can cause a high level of anxiety and potentially affect the marketability of apartments. (Some even believe it is unfair to the offender who has paid his debt to society.) Boards of Directors sometimes consider the seriousness of the underlying offense in deciding how to proceed. It is a matter within their discretion.”

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