LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Time to Pass the Next Stage of Co-op Reform in Westchester County

Philip Weiden | February 2020

The Westchester County Legislature will soon be considering a bill to mandate that co-op boards provide a reason in writing stating why the co-op board is rejecting a prospective purchaser. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors has long advocated for such transparency when a buyer is rejected. This is a much-needed modification to the current law wherein a board need only provide a notice of rejection to the Human Rights Commission of Westchester County if the prospective purchaser is denied.

The current law thus far resulted in approximately 300 rejections of prospective purchasers of co-ops that we know of in just over a year’s time. This indicates, that at the very least, an investigation is warranted and a reason in writing should be sent to buyers stating why they are being denied.

If the co-op boards are upholding the law then they should not be concerned regarding the consequences of their actions. This, unfortunately, is an area of housing where there is very little transparency.

The current time lines are 15 days from receipt of application to notify a buyer that the board is in receipt of their application and an additional 60 days thereafter to decide whether or not the applicant has been accepted. It may also make sense to make this timeline shorter since 60 days seems an inordinate time frame for an applicant to be in limbo.

The one component that would also improve this law, and is not currently included, would be to mandate that a co-op board automatically accept an applicant if they have not provided a reason or have not notified the buyer if they have been rejected within the legal time limits. This would provide more certainty to the market. Stay tuned for updates on the legislation at the state and local level.

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