LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Westchester Co-Op Transparency Law in Need of Improvement

Philip Weiden | September 2020

In December of 2018 the Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed legislation into law to guarantee a measure of protection to prospective co-op purchasers.

Thus far, more than 300 rejections of prospective buyers have occurred since the co-op law went into effect. This is an inordinate number of rejections. and there are many questions that remain unanswered regarding the reasons for the rejections.

So far only two fines have been issued for violations. In many cases the Human Rights Commission did not receive contact information, such as a phone number or e-mail address when they received a rejection notice from a co-op board. They do not have stats on an actual rejection rate. They do not know how many acceptances there have been.

There are significant changes that both HGAR and the Human Rights Commission support. HGAR, and the Human Rights Commission support a mandatory standardized form for use by all co-ops. Both support a mandatory reason in writing that specifies why a person is being denied be provided by the relevant co-op boards. Many Realtors have also stated that the co-op board should be mandated to tell the prospective purchaser the specific financial reasons why they were denied.

Another component of any additional legislation that we support is a mandatory acceptance of an offer after the 60-day timeline (from the time the offer is presented) if the board has not given any response to the prospective purchaser in that time frame. This is viewed as the best way to force the co-op board to act in a timely manner.

Some legislators are suggesting they would support this while other legislators suggest they would not and instead support major fines if the board does not act in 60 days. In every jurisdiction where a co-op law has passed, it included automatic acceptance of the offer if the board did not respond in the time frame that the law mandated, with the exception of Nassau County. Stay tuned for updates as legislation moves forward.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.