The Agony of a Co-op Board Rejection

With all of the talk still going on regarding the bill to force Co-op Boards to disclose their reasons for rejecting applicants, I couldn’t resist passing along this question posed by The Anti-Discrimination Center via Curbed:

REJECTIONVILLE—And now, a note on the eternal struggle for co-op board transparency: "The Anti-Discrimination Center has been working to pass a law, ‘Intro 119,’ that would require co-ops to provide their reasons for rejection when they turn down an applicant. Over 40 civil rights and allied organizations and a majority of the City Council already support the bill, yet those who want to maintain a system of privilege and exclusion are fighting desperately against it. They have thus far succeeded in having City Council Speaker Chris Quinn keep the bill bottled up without a hearing. In order to underline the importance of this issue, we need to hear from people who have been turned down by co-ops. Please email us at [email protected]."

Check out the comment string at Curbed.  As we already know, many fear lawsuits but "thou doth protest too much!"  If Co-op Boards are rejecting people for legitimate reasons like financial insolvency and not because they are disabled or homosexual, then I’m not sure from where this fear comes.  Certainly Board members would have to have Directors and Officers insurance but if they behave with integrity, they should be somewhat immune to lawsuits.  Of course there may be a frivolous lawsuit here or there but I personally don’t believe it would reach epidemic proportions.

A regular reader of mine, newbie, suggested regular "spot" audits of Boards to insure that they are keeping books and behaving appropriately regarding applicant review.  Not a bad idea at all IMHO.

In the meantime, we continue to live with the Co-op structure as it is and for the most part, "it ain’t all that bad!"  That said, a colleague of mine just had a buyer of his turned down in a Co-op who has a reputation for discriminating against the disabled (they lost a law suit about 11 years ago to someone who proved that the building feared that they would cost them money in the form of modifying the building to suit the applicant.).  My colleague’s applicant was collecting ample tax-free disability income and after an all cash purchase had more than the purchase price of the apartment in his regular checking account (I don’t know why?).  There is absolutely NO WAY that this Co-op Board could have come up with any reason to reject this buyer other than his disability and that my friends is precisely why I support this bill. 

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