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Co op Boards Discriminating
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Nice column in the New York Times today titled - New Bill Seeks to Curb Discrimination by Co-Op Boards
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/nyregion/new-bill-seeks-to-curb-discrimination-by-co-op-boards.html?ref=nyregion

Of course, it will be very easy to enforce...

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This has been going on for the LONGEST !

Uh oh...it will be 'The Natives' vs 'The Bowery Boys' in no time.

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Its about time these COOP boards answer for their racist ways

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I'd be curious to hear what people who sit on boards think of the 45-day provision. It seems to me like an insanely short window of time in a world where it takes weeks to run a good solid credit check (the kind some of the East Side boards run).

ali r.
DG Neary Realty

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Does it really ever take more than six and a half weeks to run "a good solid credit check"?

On a downtown (chelsea) small building board, 45 days is enough though it might be troublesome around august.
I suppose a board could require all packages to be submitted either on the 1st or the 14th of a month, stretching it another week or 2 out.

As far as anti discrimination, well your discriminating financially. It would be near impossible to prove discrimination based on race, religion, etc., but easy to encourage more litigation.
Your talking about people who own a corporation together but also live together. There are no minutes for hallway and lobby conversations.

You know in the early 70s, my parents were deciding whether to live in whitestone or bayside. My father asked the agent in whitestone, "Are there any jews in the neighborhood?" THe response was, "No, you don't have to worry about them here." SHe did our family a favor. Im glad I got to grow up with some fellow jews.

This will only making applying for a co-op more expensive to an applicant.
More laws for something already against the law.
But hey, we need more work for all the lawyers we're cranking out.

edit ...This will only make applying......

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"It seems to me like an insanely short window of time in a world where it takes weeks to run a good solid credit check (the kind some of the East Side boards run)."

Genuine question: why does it take so long? Obviously they're doing more than the regular credit check where you get back your score and a list of all your credit-card-related history in a nice summary on the same day. What else are they looking at? Past mortgages? Student debt?

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As someone now a board member, I understand the other side.
First of all everyone's leading their own lives, limited accounting backgrounds, while trying to coordinate with 4,5,6 other people, meet on questions,etc.
Still, 45 days should be sufficient.

>You're not discriminating financially, really. This is because you are buying shares, not paying to get into the club, per se. It would be like saying anyone who can't buy a Ferrari is being discriminated against. If you can't afford it, you can't afford it. If you can't afford the car, you can't have it. If you can't afford the shares, you can't have them.

Sonya, that is in essence discriminating financially. See you've asigned the word "discriminating" as strictly a negative term. Much the the way prejudice has been ascribed.
Discriminating doesnt automatically mean "bad."

Some people discriminate against vanilla and prefer to eat chocolate, they are prejudiced against vanilla.
I used to discriminate against ordering chicken in a a nice restaurant.

And if a co-op board denies because the "price is too low," how do you navigate that delay?

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my beef here is not with the 45 days, I think boards should be totally fine with that, but with some of the other provisions, like providing info to the NYC Commission on Human Rights and any changes on that to be updated within 5 days.
... as truthskr10 said, sometimes it's really hard to get everyone together.

I liken this process to job applications, employers don't have to tell you either. So are you going to make employers now lay down their reasons, too of why they didn't even call you in in the first place?

the full text of the Intro 188 requires the following:

• That every Board adopt a standardized application form and a list of requirements that must be provided to “any applicant” upon request.

• A copy of the standardized admission form and requirements must be provided to the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

• Any change in the application form or requirements must be submitted within 5 business days of such change or modification to the Commission.

• When an application is submitted, the Board has 10 business days to respond in writing either that the application is complete or explaining any deficiencies.

• If further information is requested within the 10 days, the submission of further information is also upon receipt subject to the same 10 day limitation as to whether it is complete or requires more information.

• Once all the information is received, the Board has 45 calendar days to approve or disapprove in writing the application. If the application is disapproved, each Board member who participated in the decision is required to individually sign a written certification that the Board member did not discriminate on the basis of any known protected category.

• Should the Board not respond within 45 days, any application fee paid to the Board or the Managing Agent, must be refunded, and the applicant is entitled to send a 10 day notice to the Board demanding a response. If the Board does not respond within the 10 days, the application is deemed accepted. (The Board is given an additional period of time if the application is received between July 1 and September 10.)

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seems that if these bills are adopted that Boards would be forced delegate such matters to a 3-person subcommittee then made up of people who want to meet pn short-notice and sign- i.e. retirees with nothing to do

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>This bill is really to combat RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.
reminds me of the Patriot Act "is to combat terrorism"
The govt already spies on us, this act just formalized it, I feel so much safer now.

You know not every co-op building is 100 plus units with career board members.
And I agree it's not like a job interview. An interviewer is an expert in the field and gets paid to do it.
Honestly it makes no difference to me, my building is small enough I'd likely average one review every 18 months.

Those mandatory 5 and 10 day requirements are going to force smaller co-op boards like mine to hire a professional to deal. That cost will be passed on to the co-op application fee. So god bless.

Im for all solutions to make our world as unbiased as possible.
Unfortunately I only see this specific bill adding to our litigious society.

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Sounds like a good law to me. We can hope it will scare away potential board members that should be scared away. The 45 day time limit is completely reasonable, remember the contract is already signed when the clock starts.

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Well, I am a board member of a pretty big co-op, and we had to turn down some people recently. I have to say that the issue of Arab names, to quote Ms. Veselinovic, never came up but being a holder of a mortgage from a foreign bank, and that bank only, did. Is it a bank-related discrimination? If so, good. So "we are nice people" is not always the whole picture.
I would say that buying into a co-op is not a constitutional right... and has nothing to do with human rights or even fair housing. Over=regulation always, always has unintended consequences that are ususally worse than the "manufactured" or "perceived" problem.
I would put a time limit for a guaranteed response to the submitted package, though.

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Apologies Sonya I missed your last post.

>In the meantime: why doesn't the board just tell the seller?!?!?
Again, a board isnt always marching in lock step.
Since everyone likes analogies, I'll give you a great one. A board is like a jury. And everyone isnt always on the same page. Sometimes 2 are trying to convince 3 others. It isnt always black and white.
When you have that situation, it's easy to see no answer for a month.

>Funny how the ONLY people who are anti this legislation are co-op board members.
Your absolutely right, 2 years ago I would have championed this bill.
After serving on a board, I now understand some of the pitfalls and causes of delay.

And you know what is going to come after....One application question will be, "Have you ever been rejected from another co-op board." with the follow up, "If so attach rejection form"

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Intro 188 is a wolf in lambs clothing. It still allows the corrupt cloak of secrecy to persist while attempting to shorten the time that Coop transactions can be strung along by malicious landlords and their "board of directors". But It's a start.

These discussions about Coop discrimination always tend to be about incoming purchasers. What about the thousands of Coop "shareholders" who basically have no rights whatsoever and no protections for their most valuable asset, their home?

Granted, Coops have basically established an institution that is allowed to practice legalized discrimination.
A rejection for anything other than economic qualifications is what most people would consider discrimination.
But through years of lobbying, corrupting the BCL and the exploitation of the coveted "business judgement rule" these landlords get around it with silence. They discriminate but aren't legally obligated to tell anyone. Not even a judge.

Not only should there be a time limit for board's response to an application but there should be a limit on the number of rejections a Coop can inflict on one shareholder. And/or impose the "Right of first refusal" rule like they have for Condominiums.

But the reality is that, like intro 119 by Hiram Monsorrate which was seeking more transparency and disclosure for rejections, this bill too will be squashed by powerful, well connected real estate parasites.

Anyone remember intro 326?
http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/Debunking_myths_about_Fair_and_Prompt_Coop_Disclosure_Law.pdf
why aren't we talking about that?

Shareholders can't even pass a Coop on to heirs through their estate!

It's the Coop SHAREHOLDERS who have the most to loose. A rejected buyer gets his feelings hurt - but the seller might be on the brink of loosing everything.

There needs to be more legislation that protects the biggest asset that most people will ever have. Their home.
And there are so many more issues to be addressed other than the ugly initiation harassments:

- Stealing tax rebates

- Rejecting the refinancing of your home.

- Rejecting sublets

- Flip Tax

- Perpetual debt through unending building mortgage refinancing.

- Price fixing - rejecting sales based on low price … but they don't have to tell anyone… ;D

- And of course, the topic de jour, perpetually rejecting sales and imprisoning shareholders - or worse yet, pushing them into bankruptcy.

Oh, and as far as how long it takes to vet someone. It takes as long as you choose.
Almost anything is available at a few clicks of a mouse. The managing agent's staff could be trained to do a thorough background check in less than 48 hours.

Watch how quickly they move if they want to evict you.

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andwin, you are right on a few points but not on others:

I do hate flip tax BUT the SHAREHOLDERS decided to institute it, not the board; it required 2/3 of the votes

Inheritance: a corporation cannot be inherited

Rejecting refinancing: was it done despite perfect qualifications? Or would the permission hurt the financial health of the corporation?

I do agree with you on managing agents: they are self-serving lumpen on a power trip. That's why we just changed them.

Openhouse wrote "I do hate flip tax BUT the SHAREHOLDERS decided to institute it, not the board; it required 2/3 of the votes "
The sponsor holds 33% of the shares almost always. One way or another. And they almost never leave. They also have another 30 % of well placed affiliated shareholders - look at the board.
Then if they still need votes they "lobby" the other shareholders until they get their votes. No one in their right mind would willing give away 1-4% of their assets when the other option is to draft a budget that spreads financial responsibility to all shareholders - including the sponsor. Did I mention the sponsor NEVER pays a flip tax?
The flip tax puts an unfair burden on transiting shareholders who may already be under economic strain. Residents rarely seek to implement that.

"Inheritance: a corporation cannot be inherited"
But shares can be inherited - as can a proprietary lease. Rent regulated tenants have more rights when it comes to inheriting an apartment than a Coop owner.

"Rejecting refinancing: was it done despite perfect qualifications? Or would the permission hurt the financial health of the corporation?"
Financial health of the corporation? puh leeeeze.
the bank says Yes the Coop says No. Sound familiar?
What about the financial health of the home owner. Sometimes a refinance can bring relief to a temporary setback. But rejecting the refinance brings financial ruin. The Coop doesn't care because they get their money before the bank does.

"I do agree with you on managing agents: they are self-serving lumpen on a power trip. That's why we just changed them."
Managing agent = sponsor

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greensdale wrote: "government and more regulation is always the answer to help entitled people."

I'm not sure what that even means.
Who are the entitled people?

Are you sarcastically suggesting that more government legislation that protects the rights of Coop buyers and shareholders is a BAD thing?
What are your feelings about a cloistered autocracy with the ability to ruin the lives of both buyers and "shareholders" unchecked and untested by any other entity?

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"...protects the rights of Coop buyers and shareholders..."
Protecting from who/what? Board is elected by the said shareholders... It's always bad if you feel powerless and surrounded by conspiring evildoers, or maybe your particular board is really awful. But by and large the boards are as much shareholders and you, are they not.

edit: "as much shareholders AS you"

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**I would say that buying into a co-op is not a constitutional right... and has nothing to do with human rights or even fair housing****

To discriminate means to choose. Most discrimination is legal, but some is not. We have decided as a society that we do not want to allow choosing on the basis of characteristics that people can't change about themselves -- that is, for example, race, nationality, age, disabilty, sexual orientation, gender and several more. That's all it is, and it's an idea that's pretty fair.

Discriminating in housing for illegal reasons has everything to do with human rights and fair housing and is against the law. Anyone who thinks that illegal discrimination does not occur in co-op board decision-making hasn't been around the NYC real estate market long enough. If some co-op boards didn't discriminate illegally, it would be unnecessary to legislate further to make them stop. It has nothing to do with making more work for lawyers. If co-op board members take the time to learn the law and then obey the law, there will be less work for lawyers and many of you will be much happier.

From my viewpoint, a law that works to lessen illegal discrimination is welcome. I think the 10-day time requirements are unrealistic and should be changed to 21 days each, but see nothing burdensome about the 45-day provision. It may require some rethinking and retooling of procedures for some boards, but it's not unreasonable.

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It's not my solution, it's the council members' solution. It looks to me as though they think that more transparency and a more level playing field (i.e, standardized forms) will give the boards a push towards less discrimination. I can't see a problem with that. If there is a cost to the co-op boards, all boards will bear the cost for the ones that discriminate illegally. That's the way we traditionally have distributed the costs in order to eliminate illegal discrimination. It is a consequentialist approach in that we are saying the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

By the way, under our discrimination laws, no one is "entitled." Even white men can be members of a protected class if they are being discriminated against on the basis of race, color or gender.

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greensdale
about 14 hours ago

andwin >> "What are your feelings about a cloistered autocracy with the ability to ruin the lives of both buyers and "shareholders" unchecked and untested by any other entity?"

greensdale > "Why do I care about what happens in someone else's private business or private residence?"

There you have it folks, right from the horse's mouth.
THAT'S what you're facing when you buy into most NY Coops.

I urge every civilian (purchaser and shareholder alike) to log on to the recording of the Council hearing the NWT provided:
http://on.nyc.gov/19bcIO4

Testimony starts at about 00:50.
It will take a little commitment to watch the whole thing but it will give any reasonable person a rare insight into how Coops have established an institution that makes their own laws and answers to no one. ( if you watch the movie full screen it's a little easier to skip forward and backward in the movie)

You'll hear first hand how peoples lives are ruined on a regular basis.

>Illegal discrimination is illegal. Your solution is to make it more illegal?
This is precisely the point.

I think today all should be far more concerned about the IRS being used to target people who critcize our government, don't you?
Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal, right to vote and free speech trump all.

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Ok greensdale. It's clear that you're used to getting things your way and probably extremely vested in preserving the status quo.
But your grasp on reality is tenuous at best.

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"Coops like all corporations are permitted by government. Creation of government - no." by greensdale

Corporations are a creation of the state (law/government). It is a legal status conferred upon a business. These are not naturally occuring things. That is a really uninformed statement.

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>I agree though I don't think this issue is from the top eg POTUS or Treasury Secy. I suspect this is rogue employees being nosy and on a power trip. I heard someone call this Nixonian and I disagree with that POV . I certainly hope I'm not wrong in my view

Well if you recall, Bill Clinton's enemies were frequently hit with audits in the 90s. I suppose an audit is better than prematurely dying like back in his governor days.
I wonder if this new IRS now accepts apologies for not paying your taxes..?

>The bill as proposed would still let you reject for no stated reason. Tattoos, shell necklaces, and woman-degrading clothing aren't protected. The board members would just have to sign something saying they didn't reject because applicant was in some protected class. There's a competing bill by some other councilperson that'd make you say why, I think.

A yappy dog or loud screaming kids top my list. THough I wouldnt know about either until after you already moved in.

greensdale, thanks for your welcome. As a citizen you are conferred certain benefits above and beyond just being human (similar to the issues surrounding the immigration debate). So, yes, if the status or legal entity is created by the state (like a corporation or coop), the state does have the right to regulate it. There are reasons why many coporations decide to locate in Delaware and not in, say, North Dakota. I am not suggesting gov't regulate all parts of your humanity. I am saying that government can and should regulate the entities that it creates, if there are such entities are violating public policy as a coop, given the opaque decision making structure, may be doing.
This bill doesn't go very far, but it at least brings a sense of transparency into the process. I am sure you certainly would not accept it there was a pattern of discrimination at a certain company against a certain or groups of persons. That is why we have the EEOC office to investigate those complaints. Coop boards on the other hand have no actual checks and balances to prevent discriminatory behavior because it is a veiled process.

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> "What pattern of discrimination have you evidenced across all co-ops in NYC?"

There will never be any evidence because it will never be disclosed. Not even to a judge. ( see business judgement rule)
These parasites have very cunningly created a completely autonomous municipality that literally answers to no one.
And there is no governing body in place to check or enforce what most people would recognize as unfair and illegal behavior.

Anyone who says that this is not a recipe for corruption, market manipulation and oppression probably has interests in this corrupt institution.

If we'd had three terms of Giuliani instead of three terms of Bloomberg, the process of reform would probably be much further along and this thread would be discussing the much more complex aberrations of this corrupt institution rather than arguing about the fair treatment of transiting shareholders.

Basic stuff for most of society.

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new laws, more regulation...

I have a better idea - outlaw the ownership structure and force conversion! CONDO CONDO

greensdale > "So another law to solve a problem that no one is even sure exists. "

HA! That one made me laugh out loud... thanks for that

Your lack of common sense is amusing.
You'll be better off if you just repeat what they told you to say verbatim - and don't embellish it. You'll make a much better puppet.

Essentially what andwin said. The structure in and of itself precludes that there will be any evidence. Imagine that you worked in a company that systematically underpaid a certain group (let's say women for example) versus other employees for the same work/job, but it was justified under the "business judgement rule." Further, imagine that you were denied access to the salary history of employees at the company to make your case. I would certainly hope that just because that group was denied that evidence, you would not draw the conclusion no discrimination has actually occured. I think the point is the BJR is being identified by folks here as a clear end around established fair housing laws that were borne out of historic & current discriminatory practices. The co-op structure is the very thing that precludes your question from being answered greensdale.

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NYCMatt - I don't think the law exempts co-ops from fair housing laws, if that is what you are arguing. The sole goal of the "coporation" is to provide housing services, so it seems like a distinction without a difference.

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