Behind every co-op is a shady board of puppet masters pulling the very strings of existence, right? While it may seem that way, it's not always so. Take this fact-or-fiction quiz to test your knowledge of the authority and duties of co-op boards!
Boards may not discriminate in their decisions based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital and family status, or lawful source of income and occupation.
In court, co-op boards must provide nondiscriminatory reasons for a rejection decision. An interview may provide many subjective, nondiscriminatory reasons to reject an applicant.
Like race and religion, family status is not a lawful reason to deny housing.
You're being interviewed, not doing the interviewing. Also, questions about subletting, pets or using the space as a pied-a-terre may run afoul of board members' interests.
Co-op boards are evaluating not only your financial resources, but also your fit in a community of people who live very close together. Don't be offended if they pry into your personal life.
Many parallels exist between a co-op board and the board of an incorporated business, so the most important court case governing the duties of co-op boards allows "business judgment" as the standard for actions and decisions.
Board actions that are incongruent with written rules are some of the most common causes of co-op owner lawsuits.
The board can be sued, but it depends on how bad the decision is -- the board has a fiduciary duty to be responsible with shareholders' money.
While the usefulness of this action unfortunately remains debatable, its legality is not -- steering clients based on race, religion or occupation is illegally discriminatory.
Unpermitted work in co-ops is frequent, and cases exist of boards requiring current owners to get retroactive permits for previous owners' renovations. Is this board action legal? This is a tricky gray area, but in some cases, yes.