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Condominium & Co-op Law

Condominium & Co-op Law

WHITE PLAINS COOPERATIVE AND CONDOMINIUM LAWYER

Cooperative (“Co-op”) and condominium communities have their own unique challenges compared to other forms of home ownership. From a management perspective, the boards in these communities have an immense number of legal challenges right from their inception. Once the community’s developer (known as the “Sponsor”) turns control of the board over to the unit owners/shareholders (“Unit Owners”), they have to immediately start dealing with a wide array of legal issues related to the Sponsor (e.g. the Sponsor’s refusal to rectify construction defects) as well as with the new Unit Owners (e.g. owners who are refusing to pay their monthly maintenance and common charges). Similarly, most Unit Owners for the first time have to deal with a governing body like the Board of Directors/Board of Managers (the “Board”) and find it surprising that they have a large say in what the Unit Owner can do both inside and outside their unit.

For nearly twenty (20) years, attorney Steven A. Campanaro has devoted his practice to helping both Co-op and condominium Boards and their Unit Owners with the unique legal challenges they face. Having started his career representing businesses in various industries, Mr. Campanaro built a strong reputation for being a true professional who treats his engagements with his clients as a partnership. Early in his career, he had an opportunity to assist a Co-op with some tough legal issues and quickly realized that most attorneys working with these types of communities did not actively engage with the Board members in the same way. He found this troublesome since the individuals who serve on these Boards typically have no legal background or have had any experience with handling disputes that are legal in nature. As a result, he found that there was always a disconnect between what the Board thought their attorney was doing and what was actually being done. Accordingly, Mr. Campanaro decided to take the same partnership approach he used in his business practice and apply it to his representation of Co-op and condominium associations. This approach creates better informed Boards, which in turn allows disputes to be more swiftly resolved in a cost-efficient manner for the overall benefit of the community. Similarly, his business minded approach has helped Unit Owners resolve disputes with their Boards on a wide variety of issues without resorting to costly litigation unless absolutely necessary.

REPRESENTATION OF CO-OP AND CONDOMINIUM BOARDS

Attorney Steven A. Campanaro has served as a trusted advisor to Co-op and condominium Boards for nearly twenty (20) years. He provides general counsel and legal representation to condominium and Co-op associations throughout Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess Counties on various legal issues including:

Contract Negotiations with Third Parties: Our office will review, negotiate and prepare agreements with third party vendors and service providers that the Co-op and condominium community rely on for their day-to-day operations (e.g. management agreements, landscapers, elevator maintenance providers, etc.) as well as for larger capital improvement projects (e.g. contractors, architects, etc.).

Updating Governing Documents: A large majority of Co-op and condominium communities have not updated their governing documents (e.g. By-Laws, Proprietary Lease, House Rules, etc.) since the community’s inception. For some of these communities this could mean they are relying on documents that were drafted over forty (40) years ago! Trying to manage a community and resolve modern day issues with documents drafted before some unit owners may have even been born is a difficult endeavor. Moreover, cooperative and condominium law has evolved immensely over the past few decades making many of the provisions contained in these original documents obsolete. Our office assist Co-op and condominium Boards with updating their governing documents and ensuring they are properly adopted by the community. This entails first performing a comprehensive assessment of the community’s existing By-Laws, House Rules, Proprietary Lease, etc. and identifying which provisions are outdated or are otherwise hindering the Board from being able to effectively manage the community. If it is determined that any of the provisions need to be updated, we will then counsel the Board on legally permissible options and prepare any necessary documents. Finally, our office will work hands-on with the Board and the community’s managing agent to ensure that the updated documents are adopted in accordance with the community’s existing rules thereby eliminating any potential action from the Unit Owners challenging their validity.

Disputes with Unit Owners/Shareholders: Disputes with Unit Owners are inevitable in Co-op and condominium communities of all sizes. The provisions contained in most Co-op/condominium governing documents, especially those drafted when the community was first formed, are rarely clear or straightforward. Accordingly, legal disputes often arise between the Unit Owners and the Board as to whether a particular action is permitted under these documents. In addition, the economic climate over roughly the past decade or so has resulted in a sharp increase of maintenance fee and common charge delinquencies. Attorney Steven A. Campanaro has successfully litigated disputes against Unit Owners on issues ranging from pet violations, nuisance problems, delinquent payment of maintenance fees/common charges, and many others.

General Legal Counsel: Operating a cooperative or condominium community is like running a business. Predictably, the Board and the community’s managing agent will run into various legal issues related to the simple day-to-day operations. Our office provides legal counsel on all such issues giving the Board and its managing agent peace of mind that they are taking the appropriate action.

Sponsor Related Issues: Our office works hands-on with new communities who are transitioning from being Sponsor controlled. This includes negotiating with the Sponsor to address any construction defects as well as to resolve any of their other failures to comply with the offering plan. If the Sponsor will not settle these issues in good faith, attorney Steven A. Campanaro has the necessary skill and expertise to litigate such disputes in court and hold the Sponsor liable for their failures. Our office also assists the community with every area of corporate governance to ensure a successful transition from Sponsor to independent control. This includes helping with Board elections to fill any vacancies and developing innovative governing policies so that the new Board and its managing agent can start off on the right foot and move forward with effectively managing the affairs of the community.

Loan Negotiations: For Co-ops, attorney Steven A. Campanaro has the necessary skill and experience to negotiate the terms of commitment letters and loan documents for building-wide loans, and to represent the Co-op at the closing.

While the above list is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. With nearly twenty (20) years of experience, our office has the necessary expertise to handle all legal issues a Co-op or condominium association might be facing. To see if we can assist your association, contact Steven A. Campanaro today to setup a legal consultation.

REPRESENTATION OF UNIT OWNERS/SHAREHOLDERS

Unfortunately, it is very common for Unit Owners to have disputes with the Board overseeing their community. The source of these disputes can range from vague and outdated governing documents to hostile Board members who are abusing their position. Having represented both the Boards and Unit Owners in these communities for nearly twenty (20) years, attorney Steven A. Campanaro has a deep understanding of each party’s perspective and is able to leverage that real world experience to develop cost efficient solutions that is in the best interest of his client and the community. When a Board is being unreasonable, Mr. Campanaro is an experienced litigator with a proven track record of successfully advocating on behalf of Unit Owners in court. Some of the legal disputes the firm handles on behalf of Unit Owners include:

  • Disputes related to Board approval process or over interpretation of By-Laws, Proprietary Lease, Declaration, House Rules, etc.
  • Pet related issues
  • Removal of Board members (including claims for breach of fiduciary duty)
  • Common charge/maintenance fee disputes
  • Claims for failure to repair
  • Disputes with neighboring unit owners
  • Construction plan disputes
  • Subleasing of units
  • Maintenance and repair issues
  • Common area disputes

The above list is just a small representation of some of the legal issues our office handles on behalf of Unit Owners. With nearly twenty (20) years of experience, our office has the expertise to successfully represent Unit Owners with any legal disputes they may be having with their association. If you are a condominium unit owner or a Co-op shareholder and have a dispute with your Board, contact Steven A. Campanaro today to setup a legal consultation and get the answers you need.




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707 Westchester Avenue, Suite 405, White Plains , NY 10604
| Phone: (914) 686-0634

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