When you purchase a condo unit, you agree to take on specific duties, such as complying with the bylaws and paying association dues. In exchange, you enjoy ownership rights. Condo owners don’t have to endure injustices or unfair practices. Understanding your condo owner rights in New York will help you protect yourself.
Contact an NYC Condo Owner Rights Attorney
Condo owner rights give condo owners the authority to use their unit in a way that affords them a high quality of life. You have a right to speak your mind and enforce your rights as a condo owner. Going against a condo association or board can be intimidating. If you have questions about enforcing your rights as a condo owner, contact Woods Lonergan today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Difference Between Condo Bylaws, Regulations, and Declarations
When trying to understand your rights, It’s essential to understand the different by-laws and rules that govern the condo association. When a person purchases a condo unit, they agree to comply with the governing documents. Condo bylaws outline how the board of directors must run the condo association. The bylaws typically state the number of board members, their duties and responsibilities, the frequency of board meetings, and the length of board member service terms. Most condo associations also have a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions called the CC&Rs.
These documents establish the ground rules for how the condo association governs. They also establish the duties of condo owners. Finally, condo associations will typically have rules and regulations. Rules and regulations usually have more flexibility and can be amended according to a procedure established in the by-laws. Every condo association has its own unique rules and regulations, but condo owners always have the following rights.
The Right to Access Condo Governing Documents
As a condo owner, you have the right to request and view all of the following documents:
- The condo association’s governing documents
- Financial reports
- Annual budgets
- Board meeting minutes
- Vendor contracts
- Reserve accounts statements
- Insurance policies
You have a right to inspect these documents and make personal copies to keep yourself. After you submit a written request, the board must provide you with these documents. The only exception would be confidential information such as information on delinquent payments from other condo owners.
The Right to Non-Discrimination and Equality
Condo associations cannot discriminate against condo owners on the basis of their membership in a protected class. As a result, condo associations can’t discriminate based on a condo owner’s:
- Race or ethnicity
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Familial status
The Right to Reasonable Accommodations For a Disability
Additionally, condo associations have to abide by other federal anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Fair Housing Act. If you are a condo owner with a disability, you have the right to reasonable accommodations such as handrails and ramps so you can fully access the condo’s facilities. Even if your condo association has a no-pet policy, qualified service animals and emotional support animals must be allowed as a reasonable accommodation.
The Right to Notice and Meetings
All condo owners have a right to adequate notice of upcoming board meetings. The notice needs to be placed on common areas or announced through email, text message, the association’s website, or social media. Condo owners are free to attend board meetings and have a right to speak when the board has opened the floor for discussion. Condo owners can also ask for an item to be placed on the board meeting agenda.
Condo Owner Rights: The Right to Protest
Condo owners have a right to expect that the board will perform their duties to the condo association. When board members fail to meet their fiduciary duties, condo members can remove the board members who are abusing their authority. Condo owners also have the right to protest any regulations that are discriminatory, unfair, or onerous.
Condo Owner Rights: The Right to Run for Office and Vote During Elections
Condo owners have the right to run for board positions and vote in annual board elections. They can vote by proxy or in person as long as there is an authentic authorization. Condo boards must allow elections as outlined in the association’s bylaws. They need to give condo owners adequate notice of upcoming elections. Candidates must meet the candidate requirements, and all other regulations need to be followed.
The Right to Arbitration and Disciplinary Hearings
Condo boards need to remain fair when arbitrating disputes or imposing punishments. Unfortunately, some condo boards give out fines or other punishments that aren’t warranted against condo owners. As a condo owner, you have the right to a disciplinary hearing before the board imposes a punishment or fine upon you. You can provide evidence showing that the violation you’ve been charged with never happened or explain the situation better. If you’re in conflict with another condo owner or a board member, you have the right to ask for mediation or arbitration to resolve the dispute.
The Right to Take Legal Action Against The Condo Association or Co-Op
Finally, condo owners have the right to take legal action against other condo owners or the condo association itself. When board members or condo owners fail to comply with the bylaws, regulations, or state or federal laws, you have a right to bring a lawsuit against them for damages or injunctive relief. If you know that the condo board or another condo owner has violated the regulations, it’s important that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time to bring a legal claim against a condo owner.
Discuss Your Case With a Condo Owners Rights Attorney Today
If you are a condo owner and need to enforce your rights, Woods Lonergan is here to help. We will carefully review your case and help you understand your rights as a condo owner. Our attorneys can assist you in writing a demand letter negotiating with your condo association board. When necessary, we can take your case to trial. Contact Woods Lonergan today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Woods Lonergan PLLC helps clients with condo and co-op law throughout NYC including the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.