Articles

Helpful articles to aid Management Companies, Board Members, and Housing Cooperative Professionals in handling complex legal issues.
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Will The Real Employer Please Stand Up?

It is common for housing cooperatives and management agents to oversee employees on a collective basis. In many instances, however, the management agreement states that all employees are either management employees or cooperative employees, but not both. It is assumed, since the management agreement specifically identifies the employer, that when litigation comes knocking, the parties merely look at their management contract and, in that way, identify the true employer. However, the law is no longer as simple as that.

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Parking And Accommodations

We’ve all heard the phrase “Location, location, location.” But did you know it applies to not only where you live but where you park your vehicle? Where a person parks can have a significant impact on the person. In addition to the challenges of managing parking lots for members and their guests,, parking for housing providers can become a major headache if they don’t take the right steps when considering additional parking requirements when faced with disability accommodations requests. This doesn’t mean that every request requires a rubber stamp approval. Yet, each request should receive individual attention and housing providers have some leeway when considering requested accommodation. Knowing the “ins and outs” of the approval or denial process will help housing providers navigate this legally perilous subject.

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Accommodating the Disabled Member

What are the legal obligations a cooperative housing association owes to disabled members who seek changes in the policies or rules of the Cooperative because of the member’s medical condition?

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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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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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Basic Virtual Meeting Procedure Tips for Housing Cooperatives

Make sure virtual meetings are legally permissible in your State. Sometimes it may require a Bylaw amendment, and/or written policy to maintain the integrity of the meeting and voting process. According to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, virtual meetings must be authorized in your bylaws. For local governments, if you State has laws permitting you to meet remotely or if your Governor has issued an Executive Order permitting remote meetings, that will supercede Robert’s Rules.

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Adopting Ethics and Confidentiality Agreements for Cooperative’s Board of Directors

Members elected to serve on the Board of Directors hold special and unique positions as fiduciaries to the housing cooperative corporation. A Director holds a position of trust, fiduciary and good faith to the housing cooperative to which he or she serves. While members elected or appointed to serve as a Director may not always be the savvy corporate type, it is important for Cooperative’s to establish certain policies, sometimes best contained in an Agreement, for each Director that will spell out that Director’s responsibilities and duties pertaining to ethical corporate conduct and the handling of sensitive, confidential information.