Q&A: When Someone Is Refused Ownership

My son-in-law inherited his father's co-op in Manhattan. For two years he's been paying the upkeep charges without being able to live there, yet has been refused "ownership" by the co-op board. He has a considerable amount of cash available, owns a co-op in New Jersey and a house in Greenport, New York that has no mortgage. However, his income, combined with his wife (she is a social worker, he is a luggage designer) is under $100,000 a year. What are their options?

—Concerned Father-in-Law

“Many proprietary leases provide that the board of directors will permit the assignment of the proprietary lease and transfer of the appurtenant stock to a member of the decedent’s family who is financially responsible,” says Peter G. Goodman, partner at the New York law firm of Smith Gambrell & Russell, LLP, formerly with Hartman & Craven. “In this case it appears either that the proprietary lease did not have this provision or that the board of directors of the cooperative corporation did not deem the son-in-law to be qualified for ownership. The result is that the son-in-law is the equitable owner of the cooperative apartment and is entitled to the net proceeds of the sale of the apartment by the estate to a third-party. Under these facts, the son-in-law is not entitled to be the record owner of the apartment nor is he entitled to occupy the apartment.”

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  • People who are finally approved to buy into a co-ops are stupid. Buy a condo people you do not need to be board approved and own it and can sell or leave it in a will to whoever you want. Co-ops boards are very discriminating people look at one person the wrong way and you can forget about buying no matter how much money you have