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Laws For Everyday Life

You want your friend to move in with you, but are worried about what the board might do. Or you want to plant a satellite dish like a flag on your terrace.. Or you’ve snuck in a dog in violation of the rules and now don’t know what to do or what your rights are.  Both co-ops and condos have lots of rules and laws that govern the conduct of your everyday affairs.  But there are also real world laws that take precedence and provide you with additional protections.  Here are some that may come in handy.

Roommates:  N.Y. Real Property Law Sec. 235-f (Roommate Law)

  • In addition to immediate family, gives tenants and shareholders (who are tenants under their co-op’s proprietary lease) the right to share his or her apartment with one other person not named in the lease (and that person’s dependent children). Co-op board approval is not necessary.
  • If there are two or more tenants (shareholders) on the lease, for example, husband and wife, then you can bring in another occupant (in addition to your immediate family) only if the total number of tenants and occupants doesn’t exceed the number specified in the lease. 
  • The law doesn’t apply to condos because residents are owners, not tenants.


Habitable Conditions: N.Y. Real Property Law Sec 235-b (Warranty of Habitability)

  • Says that in every lease there is an implied promise that your apartment “will be fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended,” and that you shouldn’t be subjected to any conditions that would be “dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to [your} life, health or safety.”
  • Applies to rental tenants and co-op shareholders, but not to condo owners, who nay look to the Housing Maintenance Code for relief.
  • Only promises a minimum, not a luxury, standard of livable conditions so won’t protect against most ordinary nuisances.
  • Has been held to protect residents against secondhand smoke in co-ops (see,  Snuffed Out) which has been held to be a breach of the Warranty of Habitability.


Pets: NYC Administrative Code Sec. 27-2009.1:  Pet Law

  • If you sneak in a dog in violation of your building’s house rules or lease,you may still be able to keep it because under the law if you openly and notoriously harbor the pet, and the owner or its agents have knowledge of this and fail witihin three months to begin an action against you, then the no-pet provision is deemed waived and you and your dog are home free.
  • The law applies to all co-ops in the City, but due to a split in the courts, only to condos in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, not to those in Manhattan and the Bronx.  For more on pet-related laws, see: Laws For Your Dogs To Live By.


Satellite Dishes: 47 C.F.R.Sec. 1.4000 et seq.

  • Prohibits any (governmental or nongovernmental) restriction that would interfere with the installation, maintenance, or use of satellite antennae (less than one meter in diameter) to receive video programming that are within the exclusive use or control of a property owner.
  • Also applies to renters who have exclusive use areas.
  • And to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals.
  • Bottom line: No matter what the board says, the law says you can install a dish on a balcony, balcony railing, patio, yard, deck, or other similar area that only you can use.
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