Nassau & Suffolk County Condominium Attorneys
As real estate and property law specialists, and as native New Yorkers, the lawyers at Roman & Piccinnini are well-equipped to handle the many challenges condominium owners, boards, and builders face on a day to day basis. With our comprehensive, up-to-date knowledge of both federal and New York State real estate statutes impacting condos, our attorneys can assist you in making sound choices that will benefit you in the present and protect you in the future.
We routinely handle all matters related to condominiums, including the establishment and development of new buildings; the buying, selling, and lease of individual units; and the resolution of disputes involving the condominium’s governing board.
Condo, Co-Op, or Apartment
When you were a kid, you might have dabbled in the fortune telling business by carefully folding an origami fortune teller, or “cootie catcher.” Or perhaps like the lawyers at our firm, you were a little bit too into MASH, which stood for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House, and was a way of predicting what sort of dwelling you would live in, as well as important things like which of your classmates you would marry and how many children you would have. Fast forward to today, and we’re still just as obsessed with figuring out where our friends or clients will live as we were in fourth grade.
Today, very few free-standing, single-family homes are being built in New York City or on Long Island. Multi-family developments have taken their place as land has become more scarce and the amenities desired by the average family have become more luxurious. Residential real estate developers and buyers are throwing out their MASH cards, and are instead choosing between condominiums, co-ops, and apartments.
There are benefits and downsides to all three types of buildings.
A building set up as a condominium has individually owned units whose owners share the ownership of common areas and amenities. The condo owners own and can modify everything from the surface of their walls, floors, and ceilings inward just like someone in a rural area owns and can improve upon a farm. The majority of new buildings are being set up as condos.
An apartment building may look identical to a condominium, but typically none of the occupants own anything other than the personal belongings inside of their units. Instead, the building owner controls the entire building. Often the interior walls cannot even be painted by the occupants without the owner’s approval.
Co-ops are a different beast entirely. The occupants of a co-op are building owners, but they do not own the physical space they live in. Instead, the co-op members own shares of the corporation that owns the building they live in. They are really more like investors than property holders. Most of the existing multi-family residences in Manhattan were set up as co-ops.
Our firm helps developers decide what type of building will best serve their interests, and we help consumers decide what type of building they want to live in. But that is just the most basic service our firm provides.
Getting In On The Ground Floor
Did you know that the majority of all multi-family units in Manhattan are co-ops, but that most new multi-family buildings in the greater New York City area are being set up as condominiums? We think it is because the laws have changed in recent years to make condominiums more attractive to developers and to the people that live in them.
We work with developers to craft the documents they need to create a condominium, including a declaration and bylaws, and help guide the proposed building through the permitting and building process. It is critical that the foundational documents comply with the applicable laws, but also that they include a good dose of common sense because they will control how the building can be used for the rest of its existence.
At the outset, the declaration and bylaws determine how desirable the units in the building are to buyers. Buyers want the freedom to outfit and use their unit as they see fit, but they don’t want a building with no rules that allows a rock musician to take up residence next door. They want luxurious amenities, but they want them to be well-made and well-maintained so they don’t end up costing more than they should.
Buying, Selling & Leasing Condos
One of the reasons condos are becoming so popular is because they give the unit owners flexibility. Buyers want to be able to sell their units or lease them out without getting permission from every crackpot who lives in the complex.
Our firm regularly helps buyers and sellers with closings, and we are skilled at drafting custom lease agreements that conform to the conditions laid out in the condo’s declaration or bylaws. There is no reason that a well-maintained unit in a well-governed condominium should be any less marketable than a free-standing house.
In The Boardroom
The majority of our condo-related practice involves advising condominium boards and condo owners who are going before their own board to ask for a reasonable accommodation and/or modification.
Too often, condo boards get in trouble for governing with their hearts instead of their heads. It is a good thing to have passionate opinions about how the community in which you live functions, but it is not good to break the law or get sued because the board violated the condominium’s declaration or by-laws.
Right now, we are helping several boards figure out how to accommodate residents who need service animals. Often the bylaws specify that the building will be pet-free. But that can discriminate against residents who need the assistance of a service animal. Drawing the line between pet and service animal in a way that does not discriminate against the disabled or allow people to sneak in pets disguised as service animals is tricky. As is determining what the rules should be in certain common areas.
Condo boards must also be prepared to maintain the common areas, the exterior, and the electrical/plumbing/HVAC systems of the building on behalf of all unit owners. Most boards don’t do this work themselves, but rather hire contractors. There are always disagreements about the quality and costs of the work being done. We represent both boards and condo owners in these disputes.
Contact Roman & Piccinnini Today
Whether you are the owner of a condo, a developer, or the member of a condominium association’s board, we are here to help. Our team of experienced attorneys are ready to lend a hand and shepherd you through the challenges you are facing. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.