Despite all of the other obvious pressures at the time, there is a need for our elected representatives to address a recurrent problem with which the co-op/condo community is too often burdened.
Each of the lawmaking bodies — local, state and federal — from time to time addresses an issue and passes regulations that appear to serve a wide spectrum of our population, that in the final written drafts of the laws are presumed to be universal in application.
Sometimes legislation that is passed imposes restrictions, guidelines or revisions. Other times, new rulings provide for funding and fiscal support. But frequently, the rulings are fuzzy in regard to co-ops and condominiums. These two forms of residence are usually not specifically addressed, one way or the other. They often are not included and nor are they excluded from the intended audience.
The state’s Housing Stability and Protection Act, Federal Emergency Management Agency enactments following Hurricane Sandy, the city’s Climate Mobilization Act, and most recently the payroll protection plan are just a few examples. The result is a morass of confusion among the tens of thousands of local residents that reside in co-ops and condos, their boards of directors, and building managers who would all simply welcome clear and specific guidelines that either apply or do not apply to them.
The guidelines and lack of guidelines and controls in the current payroll protection plan from Washington made it virtually impossible for co-ops and condos to receive funding that was (probably) meant to include them.
Too often in response to my inquiries to our elected officials. attorneys and well-informed others, I have been told to “let the lawyers battle it out” or “sooner or later, the courts will decide.” Both of these statements, at times, have become reality — but too often during the interim, the lack of clear guidance written into the laws not only confuses the majority constituency in the neighborhoods served by the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums and elsewhere, but frequently causes local residents to miss out on the opportunity for financial support or relief, as has been the case with the payroll protection program.
Co-ops and condos historically have been erroneously grouped with small businesses, rental properties, large businesses, single-home owners, two-family home owners, multi-apartment buildings, property owners, etc. — when they are distinct entities under the law, and should be specifically regarded as such when legislation that may impact this special sector of our population is considered.
Failure to do so suggests indifference to a vast portion of the electorate and their families when laws are ultimately passed that negatively impact (or fail to specifically embrace) co-ops and condos with the assumption that someone else may figure out what is meant by them sometime down the road.
In summary, despite all of the pressures and concerns presented by COVID-19, reflecting (this time) on the current payroll protection program morass and the avalanche of concern from our neighbors that ARC has been addressing, it is critical that whatever legislation is considered that even might impact those living in co-operative residences or in condominiums, that these important segments of the population are specifically addressed by our representatives, and not unnecessarily left to others for the letter of the law to me interpreted — and misinterpreted.
The author is president of the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives & Condominiums.