Guest post: Former co-op member on Intro 188

To writer/editor Norman Schreiber, co-op boards engage in “bloodlust psychodrama.”  He is the author of what Schreiber describes as a “fun novel,”  Out Of Order, about murders in a co-op.  It is available on Amazon.

by Norman Schreiber

Awesome and awful is a bill under consideration by the New York City Council.

The Council, that bastion of reform, hopes to transform the co-op sales process, though the effort faces a hard road.

As recently reported here, the pending bill (Intro 188) obviously views co-op boards of directors as  evil and discriminatory.  The measure would mandate transparency and accountability via 45-day time limits, explanations for turndowns, retention of documents for five years and board member certification that no discrimination occurred in rejecting a shareholder application.

Intro 188 puts the burden of proof on all co-ops to show that they don’t discriminate, instead of proving a pattern of discrimination in those that actually do so.  I’m not sure if the bill could work; more likely, it would change the way in which discrimination is covered up.

Still, a better co-op sales choreography is good for everybody.

The co-op admissions process is bloodlust psychodrama.  I know: I served on the board for several terms at my previous residence.

I recall when one prospective buyer —  a mild, pleasant, retired lawyer —  came to meet the board on which I served; he  received the full Arizona trooper treatment as the board peppered him with “gotcha” questions.

The idea was to elicit some gasp-worthy answer that revealed a fatal flaw showing how unfit he was to dwell with the angelic likes of us — not because they sensed anything unseemly but simply because this was how we did things. I tired of the silly game.

“Sir,” I asked, “do you have a gruesome ax murder in your past?”

“No,” he replied.

The co-op’s president shot me a look that mingled serious pity for my mental state with the threat that I had better get my affairs in order real soon.

After the lawyer was well moved in, I apologized for my levity.

“Oh no,” he responded. “I found it amusing.”

As he should have.

Still, I confess that my fellow board members, though clumsy, got the big picture right.  Hypervigilance Is required.

Each buyer admitted to a co-op will do one of three things — improve, keep stable or worsen the co-op’s finances, property values, community and/or quality of life. While racial, sex, disability and other forms of discrimination are despicable and already illegal, other biases are quite in order.  Here are a few.

  • Deadbeats;
  • People who sue at the dropping of a hint or a raising of the eyebrow;
  • Adults, children or pets that make public messes;
  • People who make too much noise;
  • People who don’t intend to live in the building;
  • People planning to rent out rooms, especially to wandering bands of graffiti artists.

I doubt whether we can foresee or forestall all nuisances and corrosions and connivances heading our way.  It is the job of co-op boards to wade into the muck and to find red flags and unknown unknowns.

Anything that speeds and clarifies the application process is a boon to all involved.  The prospect of moving maddens both seller and buyer.  Each is in a rush and resents anything that feels like bureaucratic foot-dragging.

Buyers and sellers need clear instructions about what items the board requires and, at least, an approximate timetable.  When should documents be filed; how long it will take for a review of these documents; when can a decision be expected?  Building some wiggle room into this timetable (in deference to Murphy’s Law) naturally would be wise and welcome.

Keeping records for five years is a good idea, too. The co-op’s files should be archived in a central, neutral space —  not just with the management and not in a shopping bag in the current president’s apartment.

Calm, professional screening protects the co-op from potential risk. It does something else.: The smoother the process, the better the welcome you offer to new co-operators.  It’s a great way to say “hi” to your new neighbors.

Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you have the option here to search all available properties privately.

Subscribe by Email

Facebook
Twitter
More...

Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
Web site

Advertisements

One thought on “Guest post: Former co-op member on Intro 188

  1. Pingback: New legislation to control co-op boards | Sidebar for Plaintiffs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s