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Co-op legal matters—Green legislation and passing down shares

Liability, NYC, Other, Real Estate Developments, Real Estate Legality

New parts of the Climate Mobilization Act went into effect last week in New York City, including an important provision mandating “sustainable roofing zones”. The provision requires all new constructions to have either a literal green roof of vegetation or solar panels covering the entire surface. Critically, complete roof replacements on existing buildings will also be subject to these stringent environmental standards. However, co-ops and condos making smaller repairs to roofs, such as patching, are exempt from the legislation. Observers have noted the law also contains ambiguities around structures like water towers and mechanical equipment on rooftops, thus some aspects of the law remain to be worked out in practice during the future. As it stands, there are many types of green roofs that boards may wish to install, ranging from cheap options that require little maintenance and irrigation through to dense intensive (and expensive) green roofs that offer more in the way of insulation and storm-water management. [1]

Due to their different legal structure, it can be slightly more complicated to pass on ownership of a co-op apartment compared to most other types of real property. That said, shares in a corporation can also be transferred intergenerationally and thus it is usually possible to pass on a co-op to one’s family members. The key thing to keep track of is the language in the proprietary lease. If it does not make an exception to the normal requirement that co-op boards approve all transfers for cases involving inheritance from a deceased shareholder, then individuals seeking to inherit will have to go through the same process as anyone else trying to buy a co-op unit. Another solution is to get the name of the  beneficiary on the lease while the original owner is still alive. This, too, will likely require board approval. Overall, co-op owners must pay closer attention to the finer details of the law than other owners of property, although complications with inheritance are rarely insurmountable. [2]

[1] Schaefer, M. (November 2019) New Roofs Must Now Be Green or Solar or Both from Habitat Magazine Accessed November 20 2019

[2] Sidransky, A.J. (November 2019) Inheriting Co-op Shares from NY Cooperator Accessed November 20 2019

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