Q&A: Co-op-Run Sales Office

Q I am a shareholder in a co-op that has 400-plus units in our building. We have an outside management company that has an office in our building and handles the general operation of the building. I would like to know if there are any legal ramifications if we, the co-op, opened our own sales office inside the building and handled only those shareowners that wanted to sell their apartments, and we would only work exclusively with our building. The shareholder/owner would have the option to use us, or go to any outside broker if they prefer.

—Curious in Brooklyn

A “There are several issues which are involved in determining whether it is legally permissible to have the co-op operate a ‘sales office’ for the sale of the stock and proprietary leases attributable to specific co-op apartment units,” says Marc H. Schneider, Esq., an attorney based in Garden City.

“At your co-op, you must first refer to your co-op’s governing documents (i.e. bylaws and proprietary lease), to ensure that the operation of a sales office does not violate any of the provisions of said documents. Generally speaking, it appears that performing this service would be permissible under the New York Cooperative [Business] Corporation Law, subject to there being no prohibition in the co-op’s governing documents.

“In addition, you must look at the building’s certificates of occupancy and review the local municipalities building code to insure the space where the sales office will exist can be occupied for said purpose.

“There are also licensing requirements of the New York State Department of State, Division of Licensing Services, which must be complied with. You must speak to your co-op’s attorney with respect to the licensing requirements that must be met in order to provide the services required to sell the shares and proprietary lease attributable to co-op apartment units at the co-op.

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