Everybody sometimes disagrees with the decisions of their co-op or condo board. Maybe the choice to rearrange the garbage receptacles out front seems ridiculous, or the ongoing clattering of machinery on the roof is driving the top-floor residents nuts and the board seems determined to let it fix itself. These are the kinds of inevitable complaints that every board has to deal with sooner or later, and most manage to handle such issues with prudence and aplomb.
But what if the board does things that seem to be beyond the pale—perhaps even illegal? Where do boards’ powers end? And how do co-op and condo boards differ in this respect?
Apples and Oranges
To begin with, there are substantial differences between co-op and condo boards. One major difference, according to experts, is that co-op boards generally have a greater power over things like sales and sublets, since the board’s approval is required for applicants.
“Condo boards generally have only a right of first refusal in such matters, which they rarely exercise,” says attorney Stephen W. O’Connell of the Manhattan law firm Hartman & Craven LLP. Co-op boards, he adds, must also deal with underlying building mortgage financing, whereas he says “Condo boards spend more time on assessments, since that is the usual way boards raise money for capital improvements.”
But it’s not that simple. Even between one co-op and another, or one condo and another, the powers given to the board may vary.