We Make it Simple
Navigating the complex legal landscape of condominiums can be a daunting task. At Schneider Buchel, we specialize in providing comprehensive legal services tailored specifically for Boards of condominiums in New York state. With our extensive experience and expertise, we offer practical solutions to various condominium-related issues, including governance, collection of unpaid common charges and assessments, litigation, accommodations, and regulatory compliance.
Here to Help With These Issues
Non-Payment of the Monthly Common Charges and Assessments
One of the significant issues facing condominiums is the non-payment of the monthly common charges and other charges assessed by the Condominium Board (commonly referred to as the monthly “common charges” or “assessments”). The collection of these monies requires expertise and experience; especially if you want to recover the maximum amounts permitted! Condominiums are permitted to file a lien and thereafter foreclose that lien if the monies owed to the Condominium are not paid. However, you need experienced attorneys if you want to also recover additional amounts such as attorney’s fees and interest. We have a department in our firm devoted exclusively to the collection of these monies and Condominium lien foreclosures. These actions require skill as they are extremely technical and the smallest error could result in your Condominium either not recovering all the monies the Condominium is entitled to or even being precluded from recovering certain or all monies.
We counsel Boards on the best options and effective strategies to maximize not only the best course of action to recover the monies owed to the Condominium but also the maximum amount of money. We provide practical advice to Boards on the options available in connection with the ultimate foreclosure sale of the unit. We strive to expeditiously proceed with the collection efforts, resulting in the Condominium obtaining a paying unit owner or collecting its monies through as fast as possible.
Reasonable Accommodations and/or Modification Requests
One of the more prevalent issues facing Condominium Boards is how to deal with requests for reasonable accommodations and/or modifications such as requests for emotional support animals in communities where pets are prohibited; requests for handicap ramps or reserved parking spaces; etc. 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 and Reasonable Accommodation issues. Many of our clients initially sought out our firm to advise them on pending discrimination complaints concerning accommodation requests such as requests for handicap ramps. Knowing the applicable laws (on a Federal, State, and local level) and how to handle accommodation requests is critical to avoiding expensive litigation and exposure. In fact, most of our clients will come to our firm for advice when they are initially faced with a reasonable accommodation requests. This enables us to guide our clients, which results in them being able to avoid discrimination claims or being able to properly defend such claims if they are made. We are also oftentimes able to effectively mediate and resolve these disputes. If they cannot be resolved, our skilled attorneys can defend against any such claims or lawsuits. 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.
Application of the Business Judgment Rule and Board Decision-making
Schneider Buchel is among New York State’s most experienced concerning the application of the business judgment rule and Board decision-making. Our team regularly counsels boards on the legal implications of their actions and their fiduciary duties.
Construction Defect Litigation
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.
Repair, Improvements, and Other Contracts
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 Condo involves 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 other) 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.
And Can Help You With
• Issues concerning the interpretation of the condominium’s governing documents
• Amendments to governing documents
• Preparing contracts and financing for projects at the condominium
• Unit owner-controlled board / sponsor-transition issues
• Dealing with regulatory agencies and code mandates
• Defending boards in litigation where Condominiums and their board members are sued
• Election issues, among others
Founding Partner, Marc H. Schneider, served as a Board president of a Community Association.
“This has enabled our firm to have an advantage over other attorneys who represent Condominiums in that we have personal knowledge of the issues the boards typically face. This perspective, combined with our proactive approach to risk management, means we can also help our clients with a wide range of both legal and practical solutions.”
What Makes Condo
In Condominiums (unlike Co-ops), the unit is actually owned by the unit owner in fee simple. The unit owner generally owns from the surface of the floor, ceiling, and walls inward. The unit owner is also given an undivided interest in the Condominium’s common elements which is typically based upon the size of the unit and extent of irrevocably restricted common areas (i.e., those portions of the common areas that are for the sole use of a particular unit owner, such as a terrace or parking space), among other factors.
The Condominium’s affairs are governed by a Board of Managers (“Board”). The Board must comply with the terms of the Condominium’s Declaration, By-Laws, House Rules, and the Condominium Act. Regarding the repair; maintenance and upkeep of the common areas, such work is typically performed by the Board on behalf of all unit owners. Such work is paid for with monies collected from the unit owners in the form of common charges. Unit Owners pay common charges (and assessments) fixed by the Condominium’s Board based upon the common interest attributable to the unit.
Laws impacting condominiums can be complicated. Condominiums in New York are governed by what is commonly referred to as the “Condominium Act” (NY Real Property Law Section 339 et. seq.). The Condominium Act also defines the minimum standards for a Condominium’s governing documents (i.e., the Declaration and By-Laws). When clarification of the Declaration and By-Laws are needed (or when there is a question about the appropriateness of a provision in the Condominium’s governing documents), the Condominium Act must be referred to.
Going the Extra Mile
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 attacks on Board actions; properly run elections and assist with assuring the meetings concerning proposed amendments to governing documents are conducted properly so as to avoid future challenges. Our commitment to client service means that we are more than willing to work with Condominiums or other professional managing agents in order to provide comprehensive representation. We understand we are not the only professionals advising you, so it makes sense for us to work with your professional team so the best results can be obtained for our clients.
Schneider Buchel is 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 Condominiums. In fact, Schneider Buchel’s practical and insightful approach to litigation matters has led to its appointment by carriers on many complex litigations involving the Community Association over the years.