Cooperator News Q&A: Rule-Breaking Resident
Herrick partner Bruce Cholst was featured in a column in Cooperator News responding to a reader who asked if quality of life issues such as playing loud music, sweeping balcony debris onto the common sidewalk, parking in an unauthorized space and other grievances have any recourse in a in a senior cooperative with 102 units.
Bruce tells Cooperator News, "Unfortunately, there is little a board can do, short of fining or initiation of litigation to contain the conduct of a recalcitrant shareholder who remains impervious to persuasion or peer group pressure to comply with the house rules. What’s more, unless your cooperative’s proprietary lease or bylaws explicitly authorize imposition of fines for house rule violations, fining is not a legally enforceable remedy."
"I typically suggest a letter from the managing agent as the first resort in approaching a recalcitrant shareholder over his rule violations. If that fails, I suggest a verbal overture by the property manager," Bruce notes. He continues, "Engaging the shareholder in direct conversation often leads to dialogue which successfully addresses the situation. Should the verbal overture fail, I typically suggest denying the shareholder access to building amenities, such as common recreational facilities. However, this coercive step should not be taken without consulting counsel, as there are legal implications in resorting to this remedy."
If none of those options remedy the situation, Bruce suggests that the shareholder and their cousnel, "consult the proprietary lease and bylaws to see if these documents contain the requisite authority to impose fines. If they do, I would levy this sanction. If fining fails, you should consider resorting to litigation."