Co-op boards battle coronavirus with more rules, litigation

Buildings are suing residents who violate social distancing

The Hamilton at 330 West 145th Street (Credit: StreetEasy)
The Hamilton at 330 West 145th Street (Credit: StreetEasy)

Stuck-up co-op boards are hell-bent on surviving the global health crisis, by whatever means necessary.

From New York to Palm Beach, Florida, co-op boards are instituting new rules aimed to keep their buildings free of the coronavirus — closing pools, banning personal staff, cracking down on social gatherings — and even suing those who break the rules.

In one 76-unit Harlem building in New York City, a co-op board sued a trombonist who is on faculty at Columbia University for violating its new coronavirus rules. The board accused Mike Seltzer of sneaking unallowed guests into his unit, making loud noises under the influence of drugs and disregarding the building’s cleaning protocols, the New York Post reported.

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The lawsuit, filed last week in Manhattan Supreme Court, claims Seltzer’s behavior is “propagating COVID-19 … placing the life and safety of the building’s residents, some of whom are elderly or who have underlying health conditions, in grave danger of serious injury and death.”

In response to the coronavirus, other co-ops have fired all but the doorman, leaving the sole remaining staff person to swab down packages, deliver food to doors and even flush toilets to keep the plumbing running in units where owners have fled.

Some co-ops are not allowing workers deemed essential by the state — such as movers — to enter. With a ban on move-ins and move-outs, some owners are now stranded.

“I sold an apartment to a client on Fifth Avenue and they are literally not letting anyone but owners enter the building,” Philip Scheinfeld, a broker at Compass, told the Post. [NYP] — Georgia Kromrei