Articles

Helpful articles to aid Management Companies, Board Members, and Housing Cooperative Professionals in handling complex legal issues.
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Does Your Cooperative’s Waiting List Accommodate Disabled Applicants and Members?

Most co-ops offer different types and sizes of units including 1 to 3 bedrooms with various floor plans and square footage combinations. As is often the case, members desire to move from one unit to another. There may be many different reasons for moving such as an increase in family size or a unit with a better view or access to green space or parking. But in some cases members will want to move from their unit to another unit for accessibility purposes or because they have a disability and another unit will better enable them to enjoy the privileges of cooperative living than their current unit.

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More Doggone Trouble for Housing Cooperatives

In the past, many cooperative housing providers prohibited pets. This policy resonated with its members who were tired of living next door to other members with barking dogs or caterwauling cats. Yet, federal and state law now require cooperative housing providers allow assistance animals. Assistance animals are animals which a disabled member may keep in a cooperative housing situation, as long as a medical provider is persuaded that the member needs the animal in order to overcome a specific disability and that the animal will ameliorate that disability.

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The Legal Aspects Pitfalls of Cooperative Refinancing

A large number of cooperatives are contemplating refinancing their existing mortgages. Several reasons exist for this. First, interest rates are at an uncommonly low level which makes it rather advantageous to take out a loan. While the existing mortgages are typically low, the rates now are extremely attractive and may not last much longer. Thus, there is a window open now to get great interest rates. Second, many cooperatives have experienced HUD being more burdensome in its demands than in the past. They seek to either eliminate or reduce HUD oversight by eliminating the mortgage which HUD insured or subsidized. A third and most common reason is the need to amass a sufficient sum of money to undertake repairs, renovations and enhancements of the property. Many cooperatives would prefer to complete these tasks in the near future to properly maintain the property rather than make improvements over an extended number of years.

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Thinking of Refinancing?

A large number of Cooperative Boards are presently exploring the option of refinancing their existing mortgage. Whether motivated by a desire to get rid of HUD, to take advantage of relatively low interest rates, a soft market for construction, a need to improve the property, or any combination of these considerations, the Board must do a lot of homework. We have listed some vital questions that should be answered by the prospective lenders before a selection is made.

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Update on Proxies

As previously reported, the Detroit office of HUD has issued a statement that the provision in many coop bylaws that restricts who may carry a proxy in the case of married couples is violative of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. That much we agree with. However, HUD has suggested that Boards may correct this situation by adopting an amendment to the bylaws. That is patently incorrect. Here is what we suggest:

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Cook County Mandates Immediate Changes In The Application Process

Is your Cooperative in compliance with changes in the application process mandated by Cook County? If your current application process considers criminal convictions along with income, prior occupancy, and other qualification matters, then that process violates Cook County law according to the Just Housing Amendment to the Human Rights Ordinance

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“But I’m allergic to your emotional support dog!” What’s a Board to Do?

It has been years since HUD announced rules defining assistance animals and imposing upon housing providers the duty to accommodate members who request assistance animals in order to overcome their disability. The typical approach is that either the Board or a special committee chosen by the Board reviews and evaluates a member’s request for an assistance animal, sometimes identified as an emotional support animal. They review the application along with an accompanying note from the member’s physician stating that an assistance animal is required and requesting the cooperative to accommodate that request. Most often this means that a cooperative with a “no pets” policy must make exceptions.

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Understanding fair housing and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Discussions about civil rights laws are almost commonplace now, and anti-discrimination concepts are familiar even to those who don’t completely understand how the laws work. For example, due to an increase in education and the prevalence of media coverage of high-profile lawsuits, most people realize that it is illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of:

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Co-op Counselor MAHC

Dear Co-op Counselor: Our annual meeting is fast approaching and with all this information going around about the coronavirus we are not certain we should be holding this meeting. We want to do our part to flatten the curve but our Bylaws require us to hold our annual meeting on a certain time and we can’t adjourn it without a vote of the membership. There just isn’t time. What do we do?