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Questions about Cooperative Housing By-Laws

Cooperative housing is a system in which a group of housing units is owned by an association. Individuals then own a share in this arrangement, which allows them to reside in an apartment as an owner and also have access to the common areas.

Listed below are a few questions on cooperative housing issues.

I live in Illinois and the foundation of the cooperative housing in which I stay is crumbling. It is also filled with toxic mold. The Association refuses to do anything about it and I have been told to hire an attorney. I can’t afford one and want to know if there is another agency that can represent me.

Your association has a legal obligation to carry out the repairs and ensure that the toxic mold is cleaned up in a safe manner. To help you fight your case, you should get in touch with the local and state health departments, the state housing authority, and the state attorney general’s office. In addition to this, you could get referrals from the Illinois State Bar Association of low cost or pro bono programs that could assist you with your problem.

I live in a cooperative housing where the management agency has initiated legal proceedings against me. How can I subpoena my documents to protect my office file?

You would likely need to get in touch with the court and request a court clerk to issue a subpoena duces tecum to your agency. A sample of the document can be found here:

I am a shareholder in a cooperative housing unit that is based in the District of Columbia but has been incorporated in Delaware. I’d like to know which of the state’s rules would pertain to the housing unit and which one it would need to follow.

The location of the property would dictate which of the state’s jurisdictions would apply with regard to housing legal requirements. In your case, it would be the District of Columbia.

A large cooperative housing corporation, with extensive improvements and acreage, is located in an urban area with high land values in which considerable redevelopment is taking place. If this corporation receives historic status, how will it affect the market value of the properties owned by the cooperative?

In most cases, receiving a historic designation status will automatically increase the market value of a property. However, all individual properties are unique and the designation may or may not increase its value. In this situation, it is also possible the extensive redevelopment itself could increase the value of all the properties in the neighborhood. Usually, historic status does make a marked difference.
Two papers that can offer more information on this are:
Benefits of Residential Historic District Designation for Property Owners and
Historic Designation and Residential Property Values

My sister and I are jointly purchasing a second apartment in a building in which she owns a co-op in NYC. How do I create a legal document that states our joint ownership when all the mortgage and ownership documents are in my sister's name?

The link below will offer you a quit claim deed form that can be used for transferring property titles in New York. This particular one is from a husband to himself and his wife. The word “husband” can easily be changed to “sister” to enable your sister to transfer title so that both of you become joint owners. The quit claim deed will then have to be recorded /filed cord at the county clerk's office in the county where the property is located.

To get your name on to the mortgage or loan, you will have to approach the bank and have them add your name as a joint debtor.

Cooperative housing systems come with their own rules and restrictions. So if you live in one, it’s important to understand what your association expects of you as a resident.
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