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.
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 color, ceiling and walls inward. The unit owner is also given an undivided interest in the Condominium 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).
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 and the Condominium Act. Regarding the repair; maintenance and upkeep of the common areas, such work is 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 fixed by the Condominium’s Board based upon the common interest attributable to the unit.
One of the other significant issues facing Condominium’s is the non-payment of the monthly and other charges assessed by the Condominium Board (commonly referred to as the monthly “common charges”). The collection of these monies requires expertise and experience! Condominiums are permitted to file a lien and thereafter foreclose that lien if the monies owed to the Condominium are not paid. We have a department in our firm devoted to collection of these monies and Condominium lien foreclosures. As importantly, after the liens are foreclosed, our firm provides the Condominium Board with practical advice on the options available (for example, selling or renting the unit and the risks involved or negotiating with a first mortgage holder to buy the Condominium’s interest). We strive to expeditiously proceed with the collection efforts, resulting in the Condominium obtaining a paying unit owner or collecting its monies through other means much sooner.
The attorneys in our firm have significant experience in handling the issues affecting Condominiums including, but not limited to, issues concerning the interpretation of the Condominium’s Governing Documents; collection of unpaid common charges and assessments, preparing contracts, financing for projects at the Condominium, unit owner-controlled Board / Sponsor-transition issues, construction defect litigation, defending Boards in litigation where Condominiums and their Board members are sued, election issues, among others. Over the years, our experienced Condo attorneys have helped countless condos on Long Island, New York City and the Metropolitan New York area with all of their legal needs.
In addition, Marc H. Schneider served as a Board president of a Community Associations he resided in. This has enabled our firm to have an advantage over other attorneys who represent Condominiums in that we have personal knowledge of the issues Board’s typically face. This perspective, combined with our pro-active approach to risk management, means we can also help our clients with a wide range of both legal and practical solutions.
Schneider Buchel is among the New York City and Long Island region’s most experienced concerning 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.
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 Community Association over the years.
One of the more prevalent issues facing Condominium Boards is how to deal with requests for reasonable accommodations and/or modifications. 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 effecting 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 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. We also know how to draft governing documents which 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 attorneys at Schneider Buchel also 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; elections and amendments to governing documents. Our commitment to client service means that we are more than willing to work with a Condominiums other professional 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 rather than asking the board to play “middleman”.
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.
At Schneider Buchel, we are veterans at handling virtually every type of legal issue impacting Condominiums. Our firm offers Condominium 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 Condominium’s issue that you are currently faced with, we can help. Call us or fill out a contact form to schedule a consultation today.