New legislation to control co-op boards

Recently I’ve been reminded of the arcanity of the New York entity called a “co-operative corporation,” i.e., a co-op.

I was trying to describe how a co-op works to a couple of intelligent lawyers from another state. I was struck by how difficult it was to distinguish the complexity of the co-op from the simpler entity that seems to dominate throughout most of the country, the condominium.

It may be that only New Yorkers can fully understand the co-op. And it may also be true that once you achieve that understanding, you forget how miserable the learning process  was in getting it.

Understanding co-op law is similar to a writer’s experience: by the time you read your own work in print — how brilliant! how clever! — you’ve entirely forgotten the agonies you went through in writing the thing.

Well, anyway.

I have mixed feelings about this guest post from real estate broker Malcolm Carter’s Service You Can Trust blog. For one thing, it’s a brutal reminder of my abject failure as a co-op board member to interview my own co-op’s prospective buyers, my failure to require a background check, to review their finances. Et cetera.

Norman Schreiber, the writer of this post (and of a novel, Out of Order, about a murder in a co-op), lists the qualities in a prospective buyer that any co-op seeks to uncover and reject. He particularly analyzes a proposed statute, Intro 188, that our City Council is considering to establish stricter rules for co-op boards.

For anyone who has never been a shareholder in a co-op or on the board of a co-op, Mr. Schreiber’s diagnosis of Intro 188 will be eye-opening. To put it mildly. And for everyone who has been or is on a board, it might worry you — especially if you combine Intro 188 with recent court decisions that have already caused anxiety in the board of directors community.

Mr. Schreiber, though, is occasionally funny when he describes what boards can go through when interviewing prospective buyers … and their dogs.


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