New York City co-op boards are notorious for their rules. They are picky about whom they let live in their building, but it does not end there. There are also rules to follow once you are living there. The rules are, ostensibly, for the unit owners’ own financial well being and to ensure everyone shows the proper respect for their neighbors.
Still, a co-op board’s policies are not uniform from one building to the next. Since there is not much you can do once you move in, a little homework ahead of time can save you a lot of headaches later on.
The house rules
You may have some work to do in order to uncover the house rules. These do not have to reside in one place. We advise reading them ahead of time to see what it includes. Some major areas for the co-op’s rules cover common areas, noise levels within your apartment, permitted appliances (washer and dryers), subletting, and pets.
How strict is the board’s enforcement?
The co-op board could choose to strictly enforce their rules. Alternatively, they could be lax. Uncovering their enforcement policy requires some extra work on your part, but it is well worth the effort. You may like living with a lot of rules, or you could find it stifling. Either way, you want to know this information ahead of time to determine if you will be happy in your home.
There are several sources of information. You should first tap your exclusive buyer’s agent. He or she may very well have a lot of familiarity with the building that interests you. Your agent could have even sold many units in the building. Next, try to talk to people currently living in the building. If you do not know anyone personally, you can use the time to get to know your potential neighbors, killing two birds with one stone. Former building residents are another font of knowledge, although you should take this with a grain of salt. Things might have changed, or they could have had a bad experience.
You can ask everyone about the general living conditions. If there is a particular rule that concerns you, make sure to bring it up.
At this point, you are ready to scour the Internet. In this technological age, there are a myriad of ways to obtain information. You can look at the various social media sites, even putting the question out there for people to see.
What can you do?
If you feel the co-op board is overzealous in its enforcement, there is not much you can do once you move in. The city has information on how to resolve disputes, but these typically involve boards that are not enforcing the bylaws, maintenance issues, and violations of the law.
You may wish to prioritize which rules you can live with, and those that are deal breakers. Some are obvious, such as a no pets rule when you have one or are planning on getting one. Others require some thought into your current and future lifestyle.