The Real Deal New York

Co-op board battles are dragging out renovations and repairs for years

Resident at 1215 Fifth claims she's been without a working bathroom for eight months
May 25, 2018 02:28PM

The Dakota and Brisbane House at 1215 Fifth (Credit: CityRealty)

Co-op board disputes with owners over renovations and repairs are dragging on years.

The battles can delay changes and rack up costs, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ana Martinez-Sanchez, for example, is dealing with bills for repairs at her Fifth Avenue apartment that have been in dispute for 18 years. As a result, she’s left without a working bathroom: The board barred her from bringing in her own plumber to fix leaking pipes or filing permits for a second, illegal bathroom added during an earlier renovation.

Co-op boards “have been given considerable leeway by courts,” the report said. They can fine shareholders, or evict them and sell their shares.

“They feel they are very powerful,” Martinez-Sanchez said of the co-op board at 1215 Fifth Avenue. “They say whatever they decide, that’s it. I have to pay whatever they bill.” The board told the Journal it offered to have the building’s plumber disable the illegal bathroom and fix the legal one.

At the Dakota, located at 1 West 72nd Street, a dispute has left a ground-floor apartment vacant since 1999. The apartment owner, developer Robert A. Siegel, sued the board in 2015, saying it had impeded his plan to convert the basement space into four bedrooms. He said the board had demanded $1.8 million for approving his plans and changed the certificate of occupancy for the space. But a judge ruled the suit had been filed too late, the WSJ said.

Co-op boards have not been strangers to litigation. High-profile lawsuits, including one involving the Dakota, have even singled out individual board members as defendants. [WSJ] — Meenal Vamburkar