Q&A: Buyer Beware

Q I recently bought a co-op in Kew Gardens, and I am now living what is starting  to seem like it will be a nightmare. When it came to the closing, I was only  told of an assessment of an extra $60 each month, and, while this was a  complete shock, my lawyer was able to come to an agreement with the sellers to  split the cost of the remaining months. There seems to be a lot of problems  that the seller never told me about, in regards to the co-op being behind with  their mortgage and a lot of general animosity among the people living here due  to the fees.  

 I have now received my October statement requesting my co-op fees, in addition  to my regular (agreed upon) fees of $664.40, which I had thought was a little  excessive to begin with. And there is the assessment of $60.80—that I found out about at the closing, plus an additional co-op abatement  assessment of $308.11. I never received any notice of this assessment. It was  the first I had heard of it. What are my rights here? Can I refuse to pay this?  Is there any way of getting it reduced? I have no idea what this money is for  and why I'm expect to pay so much more when I only moved in here three months  ago.  

 —Caught Unawares  

A “This issue is one by and between the buyer and seller and not the co-op,” says attorney Al Pennisi of Daniels Norelli Scully & Cecere, P.C. “If the co-op has a proprietary lease, which grants the board powers to pass an  assessment. The tenant shareholder that signed a lease at closing is bound to  pay all maintenance and assessments. The contract of sale by and between buyer  and seller should contain representations as to the maintenance and assessments  and therefore the buyers remedies are against the seller. The only liability of  the co-op to the buyer would be if specific questions were asked to the co-op  by the buyer as to the assessments or finances and the co-op did not give the  buyer the information.”  

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