Practice Areas

Co-op Law

Experience Matters

We Offer Innovative Solutions

New York State is home to many cooperative apartments commonly referred to as “Co-ops”. Our firm represents many Co-ops and represents hundreds of community associations. The attorneys at Schneider Buchel LLP have become well acquainted with the unique laws that govern Co-ops. Given that Co-ops are a unique form of property ownership (personal property where the Co-op is a landlord and its shareholders are also tenants pursuant to a Proprietary Lease or Occupancy Agreement), it is important to engage an attorney who is familiar with representing Co-ops, understands their legal structure, and is intimately familiar with the challenges Co-ops face. Our firm routinely offers innovative solutions to address legal and practical issues presented to Co-ops. The attorneys in our firm have many years of experience in handling any issues that your Co-op could encounter.

Our Expertise

Here to Help With These Issues


Landlord/Tenant Matters

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Due to the landlord-tenant relationship created by virtue of the cooperative form of ownership, Schneider Buchel handles many Landlord/Tenant matters and has a major presence in the Courts that hear these disputes.  We have a dedicated team that handles Landlord-Tenant matters. Schneider Buchel has successfully litigated countless Landlord-Tenant matters over the decades they have been representing Co-ops and landlords. Schneider Buchel not only successfully litigated and evicted many unwanted shareholder-tenants on behalf of its Co-op clients but has obtained some of the largest attorney’s fees awarded in the State in the process. We have also handled many objectionable conduct matters and even received Summary Judgment (court awards in favor of our clients without a trial) and successful appeals court decisions on these cases.  Schneider Buchel frequently obtains payment of legal fees expended so its clients end up not paying any monies for the efforts required to collect the arrears. Indeed, Schneider Buchel has successfully resolved many maintenance arrears matters by having the shareholder-tenant’s lender pay all monies due to the Co-op Schneider Buchel’s knowledge of this process and the “ins and outs” of the documents that affect Cooperative ownership allows our office to obtain speedy and successful results in arrears and other matters affecting Co-ops. We are also successful in recovering interest where the leases entitle the Co-op to same.


Repair, Improvements, and Other Contracts

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We regularly draft contracts for repairs and improvements (such as pointing and façade restoration work, Local Law 11, roadway projects, roof projects, etc., engineering consulting, management, etc.). It is very important that your Co-op involve its attorney when drafting contracts. We have seen many community association boards simply sign proposals that do not give them the proper protections such as insurance and indemnification (among others) protections they require when claims arise. Oftentimes, Boards may not realize the language in small print which ultimately results in Boards needing to involve our firm to try to rectify the issues that could have been avoided if our firm was involved in drafting the contracts.



Financing (and Refinancing)

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Schneider Buchel frequently assists clients with obtaining the financing they need to complete projects as well as refinancing the Co-op’s underlying mortgage. In that regard, most Co-ops have mortgages on their buildings, and it is not unusual that they never get paid off. Most Co-ops have loans that mature well before they are paid off (i.e. – they have a balloon payment). As such, Co-ops must be prepared to refinance their mortgages when they become due. As part of our firm’s commitment to our clients, we work with a cooperative’s professional agents, such as bankers, brokers, managers, accountants, auditors, and others, to provide seamless support that meets the Co-op’s needs. Our team realizes that we are not the only experts you are working with and that it is a benefit to you to work hand in hand with your professional team.


Creating and Implementing Policies

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Our Co-op attorneys frequently advise clients as they are creating and implementing policies (including by-law provisions, house rules, or amendments to the Co-op’s Proprietary Lease) to ensure the cooperative is in compliance with the law. In fact, we have been influential and have guided many of our Co-op Boards on how to amend the governing documents to make their Co-op Buildings including, but not limited to, the inside of the apartments, smoke-free. One of the biggest mistakes made by Co-op Boards is when Boards adopt what they believe are House Rules, but they really are not proper house rules and required amendments to the Co-op’s By-Laws or Proprietary Lease. Boards should always consult with their attorneys when considering adopting policies and rules.


Reasonable Accommodations

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One of the more prevalent issues facing Co-op Boards is how to deal with requests for reasonable accommodations and/or modifications. In fact, a significant issue that we have helped our clients address over recent years is resident requests for “emotional support animals” pets and the request for handicapped ramps and parking spaces. We consider our firm as one of the New York State’s most knowledgeable in this area as we have represented many clients (including defending claims on behalf of the Co-op’s insurance carriers) in such matters. All of our attorneys are experienced in the laws affecting these requests and addressing these issues so as to keep our clients away from liability under the various laws affecting the same. Marc H. Schneider, Esq. regularly lectures on the subject of Housing Discrimination. Many of our clients initially sought out our firm to advise them concerning pending discrimination complaints concerning pet-related and other accommodation requests (such as handicap parking, handicap ramps, etc.). Knowing these laws (on a Federal, State, and local level) and how to handle accommodation requests is critical to avoiding expensive litigation and exposure. We also know how to draft governing documents that comply with the law on reasonable accommodations, so these types of disputes become less common. Additionally, we know how to effectively mediate, settle, and litigate such disputes. The attorneys at Schneider Buchel are knowledgeable in this area of law; can provide practical advice to Community Associations on this subject and have successfully defended many of these types of discrimination claims. The key to successfully handling these matters is by dealing with the requests properly and involving the Board’s attorney at the outset (as opposed tohaving to defend the discrimination complaints).


Regulatory Agencies and Code Mandates

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Our attorneys are also adept at dealing with regulatory agencies and code mandates. We stay abreast of this frequently changing area of law so that our clients are aware of regulatory changes before they go into effect, making proactive compliance easier and eliminating the stress that comes with a finding of non-compliance. Our team can help you navigate the regulatory waters, and if necessary, prosecute or defend litigation in the area of the law.


Construction Defect Litigation

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Almost all newly constructed community associations have to deal with construction defects when they are handed over control of the association’s board from a sponsor-controlled Board to a homeowner-controlled Board. We have skilled litigation attorneys in our litigation department who handle these claims every day. We guide our clients on everything from hiring the required professionals (such as experienced engineers) to properly complying with the warranty requirements of the offering plans (including preparing and properly sending the Warranty Claim Forms (where applicable). We help the Board navigate the very technical process in an effort to help Boards get their construction defects repaired or recover the money needed to make the repairs. We work closely with the experts as well. When necessary, we commence and litigate lawsuits needed to obtain the community association’s rights to get all of the relief the association is entitled to. Our representation includes every aspect of the litigation including appeals.


We also represent community associations in matters where contractors hired by the Board breach their contract and do not either perform the work required by the contract or perform it defectively.  Our attorneys can help your Board navigate the issues that are encountered due to these circumstances. We will make every effort to resolve these claims without litigation but are fully prepared to effectively represent the Condominium when these efforts don’t result in a resolution.  

About Co-ops

What Makes Co-op
Law Different

First it is important to know that, unlike Condominiums and a Homeowners Association (“HOA”), when you purchase a unit at a Co-op Building, you are not actually purchasing the Co-op apartment. Instead, you are purchasing stock in the Co-op Corporation and becoming a tenant pursuant to a Proprietary Lease. Essentially you are a tenant whose rights are governed by the Proprietary Lease and the Co-op Corporation itself is the Landlord. However, as a tenant, you also have shares of stock in the Cooperative Corporation which are attributable to the unit that you purchase and therefore you are considered a shareholder-tenant of a Co-op.

Unlike Condominiums and HOAs, in nearly all Co-op’s you cannot purchase the stock and proprietary lease attributable to the apartment (“Apartment”) without first obtaining the consent of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. You also usually can not rent (sublet) your Apartment without the consent of the Co-op’s Board of Directors. You must refer to the Co-op’s Governing Documents for the exact rights and responsibilities.

The Co-op’s affairs are governed by the terms of the Co-op’s By-Laws, its Proprietary Lease, House Rules, and the New York Business Corporation Law (in many, but not all instances). There are many Co-ops that are also created under the Private Housing Finance Law (“PHFL”) and Schneider Buchel is familiar with such laws and the specialized needs of communities created thereunder. For example, there are many communities within the five boroughs of New York City that were created under Article II and Article XI of the PHFL, and knowledge of the overlapping Federal, State, and City rules and procedures are critical to helping these kinds of communities. Schneider Buchel is aware of these complex rules and procedures and has aided many of its City clients on these subjects.  Schneider Buchel also represents many senor (55+) communities and is keenly aware of the unique issues these communities face.

Exceeding Expectations

Going the Extra Mile

Board Meetings

The attorneys at Schneider Buchel frequently attend Board and Community meetings and are proficient at running these meetings efficiently and in a manner that avoids future attack on Board actions and protects the Board and communities. They also are skilled at running effective elections and work with the Boards on the stragey to accomplish obtaining the votes necessary to make important amendments to the governing documents (which oftentimes require shareholder votes).

Insurance Carriers

Schneider Buchel is also regularly appointed by insurance carriers to defend Community Associations in a myriad of different types of matters. Schneider Buchel has successfully litigated and also settled many lawsuits on behalf of many clients as a result of its knowledge and experience in the field of Co-ops. In fact, Schneider Buchel’s practical and insightful approach to litigation matters has led to its appointment by carriers on many complex litigations involving Community Associations over the years.

At Schneider Buchel, we are veterans at handling virtually every type of legal issue impacting Co-ops. Our firm offers Co-op clients unique representation that is difficult to find anywhere else. We measure our success by our clients’ satisfaction, often demonstrated by their decision to continue their relationship with us long after the issue that first brought them to us is resolved. If you are searching for a firm to handle a Co-op issue that you are currently faced with, we can help. Call us or fill out a contact form to schedule a consultation today.


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