In: House Rules
In Condominiums and Cooperatives, one of the factors that will play into whether your Unit Owners, Shareholders or the building as a whole can easily get financing is the percentage of investor-owned units. Investor-owned, in this case, is a unit that is sublet out. If a building has greater than 15% of their units sublet out by the respective owners / shareholders, the banks will take notice and may give an issue when trying to obtain financing.
There are some buildings that don’t allow subletting at all, but most will at least make it difficult or onerous to do so. A sublet fee based on a per share basis, a flat fee or a sliding scale for different years can be put into place to create soft income for the building. The theory is that the person who is subletting out their unit is making money on the transaction, so why not also create a fee within the building.
From time to time a Unit Owner or a Shareholder will place an illegal sublet into their unit without the prior written authorization of the Board of Managers or the Board of Directors in that particular building. One Board Member had inquired if they could take it upon themselves to remove the sublet directly or if they needed to go to bat with the Shareholder in question, first.
We see this all the time in property management; a resident refusing to give a copy of their apartment key to their landlord or to the building staff in the case of an emergency. In New York, it’s part of the law that the tenant should give a copy of their key to the landlord and in Proprietary Leases for Cooperatives, it notes that the Lessee (shareholder) shall give a copy of their key to the Lessor (Coop Board or representative).
This is a quick tip to lock down your House Rules to make them more enforceable.
Many buildings have House Rules that are outdated, or even original to the conversion. If the House Rules are outdated and are not providing for infractions and penalties for those breaches, are they really enforceable?
The Board has the authority to amend the House Rules and we recommend that when the House Rules are redrafted, place the specific infractions, penalties and fines that will come with each infraction. By laying this out, each resident will have notice of what the graduated steps will be for any breach of the Rules.
Once they are redrafted, we recommend mailing them out or handing out to each resident. When they do receive these new rules, each resident should sign an acknowledgment form that they both received the rules and after they had time to digest the new changes they should acknowledge that they have read and understand the House Rules as they are now drafted.
In addition to current residents, we also include both the House Rules and the Acknowledgement in all resale, sublet, refinance and transfer packages for each building so that all future residents will have read and understood the House Rules (and we have it in writing).
By following this simple advice, all buildings should be able to clamp down on breaches of the House Rules and can collect on the penalties that will no longer be seen as arbitrary.