Coop Transparency Takes Another Step Forward
Few parts of the residential purchasing process is more frustrating than the coop approval process. Clients — particularly first time buyers– find the lack of transparency and the snail’s pace to approval among the most challenging. But recently Westchester County joined a few other local NYS governments in the effort to improve the process. With the support of various real estate constituencies, including the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (whose membership includes Westchester Realtors), a sweeping county law went into effect on December 14, 2018 to reform the process.
Among the changes:
* Coop boards will have 15 days from application submission to notify buyers whether their application for purchase is complete.
* Once complete boards have 60 days to render a decision.
* And — most significantly — if the application is rejected the board must send notice to the Westchester County Human Rights Commission (the “WCHRC”). WCHRC has the power to investigate violations under all applicable county, state and federal fair housing laws, and presumably will begin to track “trends” in board rejections.
* First offenses are subject to a $1,000 fine in addition to other applicable fair housing remedies, with penalties escalating after each violation.
With the new law, Westchester joins Rockland, Suffolk and the Village of Hempstead in the push for reform in the application process. New York City’s attempts at effective reform have fallen flat, but it is only a matter of time before the trend takes hold there.
Careful real estate professionals should note the above regulations, and remember that all federal, state and local fair housing laws apply equally to coops. Hopefully, the spread of transparency regulations will help facilitate increased liquidity in the market, as well as foster equal housing opportunities throughout.