ISO: Coop Lawyer to deal with tenant issue and breaking lease

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Topic: ISO: Coop Lawyer to deal with tenant issue and breaking lease

Insurance December 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

ISO: Coop Lawyer to deal with tenant issue and breaking lease

We live in a small coop ( 3 unit). One of the owners of the coop has broken the bulding by-laws, this has gone on for years. The apartment in question is not owner occupied and the tenant is a hoarder and the apartment is a health hazard. We are denied access, and all negotiations are problematic.
We would prefer the owner to deal with the situation, but they do not. Therefore I am seeking legal advice. I think we may have a case as the owner has violated the terms of the lease / by-laws.

The existing coop lawyer is completely unresponsive to all my calls and emails, and I think we need to seek a new one. We adopted this situation when we bought into the coop a few years ago.
Does anyone know a good, trustworthy, patient lawyer that can help us through this tricky process. It is a little delicate as I did not want to have to take on the problem, but we can not live with this violation any longer as it is unsafe for the building.
Thanks
D.R

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Call the Association of the Bar  of the City of New York (you can look them up online.)  Call their attorney referral line.  Tell them you want a real estate attorney experienced in small coops, explain briefly your issue.  You will get an attorney’s name and number, and you can then do something like a 30 minute consultation with them for a very small fee (under $50 last time I used it), get some advice, and later decide if you want to hire that person for further advice based on your talk.  You can get another name, I think , if that one doesn’t suit your needs.  I, and people I’ve referred to this service, have always gotten very good lawyers this way.  They are experienced in the area you need.  Yes, I’ve gotten real estate lawyers experienced with small coops this way.
The caveat is that you have to be ready to take action.  You can go get legal advice, but if you and the other shareholder are not united in your resolve to take legal action against the third owner to resolve the situation, then you won’t be able fix it that way. It would seem to me that your first action might be a letter from the attorney to try to pressure the owner to deal with the situation, a way of letting them know you are serious and not going away on this issue.  If you are trying to fix it in a more delicate way, finding social services to deal with hoarder might be another way to deal with it.  I believe you may also be able to call 311 and find out about social services resources or other city intervention that might help.  If the situation is not truly hoarding that is a health hazard, but simply a tenant who has too much stuff around, but who is able to get rid of some of it under pressure if it is going to affect their continuing to be able to rent there, once they grasp the gravity of their situation, then you might try dealing with the tenant directly on the issue – ask an attorney for advice on how to go about that first.  Because the tenant, not only the owner, has the responsibility to abide by certain coop norms.  If the tenant is truly a hoarder and cannot clear stuff out, even under threat of eviction, it would make sense to find social services to help them, especially if they are elderly – not because your goal is to get them to be cleared out more and stay on necessarily, but that might be a more attainable goal if the person is hard to kick out.  And even if they do end up going, it is always easier to do that with someone who is elderly or has mental illness if the solution ends up having them have some place to move to – which is social services approach rather than a legal one.  If they are elderly, you might also look into services for the elderly.  If they belong to a church, they may have resources to help. If they are elderly or show signs of mental illness, there may be a family member you can find to call to intervene if it has gotten to the point where that is necessary.

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