For residents of New York City co-ops and condominiums, roof access is a cherished amenity. When that access is the exclusive right of one unit, the amenity becomes a treasure. But it’s worth remembering that private roof access is not the same thing as roof ownership. The people enjoying exclusive access to the roof are bound by various agreements – the certificate of incorporation in a co-op, the declaration in a condominium, and the by-laws, rules, and regulations in both types of buildings.
A recent court case concerning a roof terrace in a condominium illustrates two points: exclusivity may be trumped by the necessity for inspection and repair; and obstructing such work can backfire against a unit-owner.