Queens officials announce new bill clarifying rights for co-op owners

Photo credit: Senator John Liu’s office

Queens legislators and community leaders announced a new piece of legislation which seeks to differentiate co-op owners’ rights from the rights of those with traditional landlord-tenant relationships.

On Nov. 7, the group introduced the Co-op Clarification Bill following the passage of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act in June 2019.

The act extended certain protections to traditional renters, including eliminating sunset provision of the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, stabilizing units rented by nonprofit organizations for homeless individuals and limiting security deposits to one month’s rent.

But the new bill made clear that these provisions do not apply to co-op owners. Those who have co-ops or cooperatives purchase shares in an apartment corporation. Ownership in these shares entitle buyers to a “long-term proprietary lease” to an apartment.

Under this unique form of homeownership, purchasers are essentially tenants in the co-op and their own landlords.

“The Tenant Protection Act, which extends important protections to tenants, was not meant for tenant-shareholders,” said state Sen. John Liu. “I represent a district with one of the largest concentrations of co-ops. The dynamics of coop ownership cannot be compared to the landlord/tenant relationship on which the housing laws were based.”

According to Liu’s office, some of the provisions listed in the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 conflicted with co-op owners’ proprietary leases and potentially increase the costs of cooperative management.

“Despite the legislative intent that the new Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act should only apply to landlord/tenant relationships, there is concern that some provisions could potentially be interpreted as applying to proprietary leases,” said Assemblyman Edward Braunstein. “To clear up any confusion, Senator Liu and I introduced this legislation to clarify that the new rent laws do not apply to co-ops and condos.”

Others in attendance at the Nov. 7 press conference included Assemblymembers Daniel Rosenthal and Aravella Simotas, Warren Schreiber, co-president of the Presidents Coop & Condo Council and Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village.

“Cooperative ownership in NYC represents one of the last bastions of affordable housing for middle income New Yorkers,” said Schreiber. “Certain provisions of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 make it difficult for co-ops to operate efficiently while continuing to provide shareholders with a comfortable, safe and affordable place to live. In order to maintain a high quality of life for all residents, co-ops must be exempt from the prohibitive requirements of the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019.”

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