LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Realtors Speak Out at Co-op Reform Legislative Hearing

Philip Weiden | March 2020

Realtors gathered at the Westchester County Board of Legislators to advocate for a mandate that a co-op board must provide a reason in writing stating why someone is being denied.

On Monday, March 9th approximately a dozen Realtors spoke at a general meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators considering co-op reform legislation.

Leah Caro, HGAR’s Legislative Council Chair, testified about the importance of transparency in the co-op process. Caro pointed out that we now have almost 300 rejections of prospective purchasers despite the co-op legislation passed last year and that co-ops are among the most affordable form of housing.

Another speaker in favor of reforming the current law was HGAR Treasurer Anthony Domathoti. He talked about discrimination cases in New York City where he practices. He stated that discrimination is still rampant and has not changed all that much in the past few decades.

Barry Kramer, a past HGAR President, spoke about the need for a reason in writing stating why a purchaser is being denied. As a co-op board President himself, he has had vast experience in the co-op purchase process. Theresa Crozier, HGAR Regional Director for Westchester County, testified that agents have to follow fair housing laws, but that some co-op boards currently do not.

The other point made by several of the speakers is that the nearly 300 rejections are just the ones the Human Rights Commission has been made aware of. We do not know how many applicants may have been rejected with said rejections not reaching the desk of the Human Rights Commission.

It was also recommended that a uniform application for all co-op boards be required. There have been many complaints of boards requiring different things from different people and burying prospective purchasers in paperwork.

Another component not in the law that must be added is an automatic acceptance into the co-op if the board does not respond within the mandated 60-day time period. Currently there is not a requirement of automatic acceptance, which makes it difficult to enforce even under the current law. If the board exceeds the 60-day time period there is no recourse to keep the co-op sale from stalling.

Finally, the human rights commission needs more investigators to pursue co-op rules abuse. The complaint from the human rights commission is that they are under staffed. More money needs to be appropriated for them to carry out their mission. Stay tuned for updates on this issue.

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