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Voting Rights

Whether you live in a co-op or a condo, you have to abide by the laws of your land as set out in your building’s documents.  But that’s just the beginning.   There are additional real world laws that may supersede what’s in those documents and provide you with independent rights. Since co-ops are corporations, these are set out in what’s called the Business Corporation Law.  There isn’t a comparable law for condos, but unit owners often get the same rights by analogy.  Here are some of your most basic rights and where they come from.

Right to Information: BCL Sec 624 gives shareholders the right

  • To inspect your co-op’s books and records. (For more on what this means, see: Your Right To Know – Or Not.)
  • To examine the minutes of shareholder meetings. You don’t have a legal right to inspect board minutes, but most co-ops and condos make them available upon request.
  • To get a list of the names and addresses of all shareholders. There is no comparable legal grant for condo unit owners and courts are split on whether you have this right.
  •  To receive an annual financial statement.

Real Property Law Sec. 339-w gives condo unit owners the right;

  • To inspect receipts and expenditures
  • To get an annual financial statement

 

Special Meeting:  BCL Sec 602 allows shareholders to call special meetings to consider and vote on issues.  Condo owners don’t have a comparable law to look to, but both co-op and condo bylaws usually provide for the calling of special meetings upon the request of  a specified percent of owners.

Proxies:  BCL Sec. 609 gives shareholders the right to authorize another person to vote on their behalf even if your bylaws are silent on the subject. Unless expressly stated in the bylaws, your proxy doesn’t have to take any specific form and doesn’t have to be acknowledged.  The Condo Act doesn’t give owners the right to vote by proxy, so it has to be granted in your bylaws.

 

Notice of Annual Meeting: Under BCL Sec 605 shareholders must be given notice not fewer than 10, nor more than 60, days before the date of the meeting, though lots of boards opt for an outside date of 40 days. No comparable time limits exist for condos, but they generally follow similar practice.  Problems can occur where there is a proxy dispute underway and the board delays notification till the last minute, which can buy incumbents an advantage. (See, Advantage Incumbents.)

Annual MeetingBCL Sec. 602 and most co-op bylaw, require that the board hold an annual shareholders’ meeting to elect directors.  The Condo Act is silent, but most condos follow suit. 

Director Qualifications:  Under BCL 701, the only qualification to be a director of your co-op is that you are at least 18 years old.  The law also allows shareholders to establish additional qualifications, and many buildings require that directors be owners and/or residents.

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