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Can I Sell Half My Apartment?

“What do you think?” I felt like saying. I mean can you sell half a loaf of bread?  OK, bad example, but you get the point. Not that this particular shareholder even realized what he was asking.

“We just want to buy the duplex next door, combine the top floors of each, which would give us the space we need, then separately sell off the bottom floors in the two apartments.  What’s the big deal? The building can just reallocate the shares.”

Any wonder why boards and owners are at loggerheads.

“No, you can’t sell half your apartment,” the guy looked at me in disbelief like I was from an alien planet.  If you could do you think couples who can’t stand each other would stay together on either side of a line taped down the center of the living room. No, they’d just chop the apartment in half and put it on the market.

Only you can’t reallocate shares like magic.  Allocations are set in the offering plan, and generally boards can’t be forced to change them. Usually the request is triggered by someone saying he’s got too many shares assigned to his apartment and he should being paying less maintenance, not by an owner who wants to divide up his space and reconfigure shares that go with it, but no matter.  The principle is the same.

But there are bigger worries. Dividing up existing apartments to make more units would require amending the certificate of occupancy for the whole building. That’s different from apartment combinations which would not require an amended C of O because they don’t increase the number of units.

On top of all that, hacking up apartments like a cucumber might result in violations regarding the number of bathrooms and kitchens, and even windows in the salvaged units. And if that’s not enough, lots of boards just say no to vertical deconstructions or reconstructions because they pose too many structural issues

Bottom Line: When it comes to selling your apartment, the rule is all or nothing.

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