A Housing Cooperative Is a Mini-Democracy

Copyright by, and republished with permission of, Habitat Magazine.

This year, as in years past, the cycle of annual meetings at New York co-ops produced its share of hotly contested elections to boards of directors. And, as in years past, some of those disputed elections led to litigation. A new court ruling has underscored a fact of life that sometimes gets lost in the heat of the battles to gain control of co-op boards: cooperative housing corporations are, at bottom, democracies. The majority usually rules.

The new state Supreme Court ruling resulted from a contested election at a 19-unit co-op on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where disgruntled shareholders succeeded in voting out the existing board. The ousted board members sued, seeking to have the election results overturned.

Their case was based on the events at two meetings. At a meeting on March 13, 2018, the ousted board members claimed that several shareholders were ineligible to vote either because they were more than two months in arrears on their maintenance payments, or their apartment was not their primary residence. At the annual meeting on April 17, the ousted board members claimed that the election was not in conformity with the bylaws because the notice of meeting was not issued by the president, by order of the board, or by 10 percent of the shareholders eligible to vote.

The ousted board sought to have the March 13th meeting declared void and the April 17th election declared a nullity. The new board moved to…to continue reading, please click here.

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