LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Co-op Reform Passes in Rockland, Westchester is Next
Philip Weiden | February 2018
Co-op boards have had unlimited timeframes in which to give an answer of acceptance or rejection to prospective purchasers. That may now end in Rockland County. A new bill, if it becomes law, will mandate that a co-op board must accept or reject an applicant in 45 days or less from the time that they receive an application. They must also notify an applicant within 10 days of receipt of that application that they have said application. If the prospective purchaser does not receive an answer in the requisite 45 days, they will be automatically accepted into the co-op.
Westchester County is also working on a bill that is similar to the Rockland county legislation. The big difference being that the Westchester bill calls for a reason, in writing, stating why the co-op board is denying the applicant. This would allow fair housing agencies to then begin testing to see if the decision by the co-op board is discriminatory.
There are two bills currently in the New York State Legislature regarding this issue. One bill would allow for a time period, similar to the Rockland bill, the other requires a reason in writing. Components of both bills have been law in Suffolk County and in the Village of Hempstead since 2009 and 2012 respectively and there have been no documented lawsuits against co-op boards in those areas related to the new laws. Previously, votes for passage have come close in both houses of the State Legislature, but the bills have never passed both houses in the same session. Urge your State Senators and Assemblymen to pass this legislation and make it a reality.
In the New York City Council we have actually made progress on a time limit bill in conjunction with the co-op boards. However there are members of the City Council who have a different version that seeks to punish boards, which is not our intent. We seek an honest and fair process that facilitates assisting more people in achieving the dream of home ownership.
This is an exciting time for this issue. If it becomes law in Westchester and Rockland, then we are one step closer to making this a reality in the State of New York and it puts more pressure on state lawmakers to pass these bills. Stay tuned for future updates.