BLOG / 12.16.22 /Matthew J. Smith

DID YOU KNOW: The ABC’s of An Access Agreement

Matthew J. Smith joins Habitat Magazine to discuss the basics of access agreements.

BLOG / 12.16.22 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

HOW TO: Pass a Controversial Amendment to the Proprietary Lease

Ken Jacobs joins Habitat Magazine to discuss how to pass a controversial amendment to the proprietary lease.

BLOG / 12.02.22 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

E-Bike And E-Scooter Safety – Is It All Or Nothing?

Lithium-Ion batteries (“L-I Batteries”) are used in numerous consumer devices, ranging from cell phones, laptops and tablets to vapes, electric toothbrushes, tools and cameras, and wheelchairs, bicycles and scooters. These batteries have a history of overheating, particularly on E-Bikes and E-Scooters. After several E-bike battery fires this spring, the NYC Housing Authority banned E-bikes and …

BLOG / 09.28.22 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Ripple Effects Of Surfside Condo Collapse – FNMA And Freddie Mac Tighten Oversight Of “Deferred Maintenance” In Condos And Co-Ops

PART I – FINDING EVIDENCE OF “DEFERRED MAINTENANCE” When you take out a personal mortgage or a co-op loan, your bank usually packages it with other mortgages and sells them in bulk to the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA” or “Fannie Mae”) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac” or simply “Freddie”). (In …

BLOG / 12.30.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Governor Signs Bill Exempting Co-Ops From Some Damaging Provisions Of Housing Stability Act

On June 10th, we notified you that a bill exempting Co-ops from some of the more objectionable provisions of the 2019 Tenant Protection and Housing Stability Act passed the legislature. See our E-Blast HERE. Due in part to the change in the executive branch, the Governor did not sign the bill until last week. To …

BLOG / 12.29.21 /Smith Buss & Jacobs LLP

Memorandum Filed With New York Senate Bill 2014

Click HERE to read the Memorandum filed with Senate Bill 2014.

BLOG / 12.15.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Mayor De Blasio Imposes Vaccination Requirements On Private Businesses

New York City announced today that effective December 27th, all employees at private sector businesses must have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. According to the New York Times, “There is no testing option as an alternative.” The City expects to publish more detailed rules for implementation and enforcement by December 15th. Mayor …

BLOG / 11.16.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobsand

A Matter of Trust – Issues for Boards When Owners Transfer Apartments to Trusts, LLCs, & Other Legal Entities

Why Are So Many People Considering Transfers to Trusts and LLC’s? 1. Speed up Estate Transfers – Transfers to trusts avoid delays in probating assets under a will; a Trust is also easier to amend and provides more flexibility in changing beneficiaries than wills do 2. Tax Planning. – Transfers to family managed LLC’s allows …

BLOG / 11.10.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Electronic Meeting Bill For Co-ops Signed Into Law

At long last, Co-ops are now officially allowed to conduct shareholder meetings electronically, permanently extending the current law that expires on December 31st. As before, the Board of Directors must provide a platform that provides shareholders a reasonable opportunity to participate in the proceedings, to verify that participants are shareholders of record, to vote, and …

BLOG / 11.01.21 /Eric P. Blaha

PACE Loans Ease Compliance with the Climate Mobilization Act

Owners of buildings over 25,000 gross square feet should be focused now on compliance with NYC’s Climate Mobilization Act (Local Law 97) that sets increasingly stringent limits on carbon emissions in 2024 and 2030 (and then every 5 years until carbon emissions are reduced by 80% in 2050). Owners should be wary of steep fines …

BLOG / 11.01.21 /Matthew J. Smith

Amendments to NYS Fair Chance Act Grant Further Rights to Job Applicants and Employees with Prior Arrests or Convictions

New York State’s “Fair Chance Act” was amended effective July 29, 2021, further limiting the rights of employers to screen job applicants and employees based on criminal history and background checks. The 2015 Fair Chance Act (the “FCA”), covering most employers with four or more employees, amended the NYC Human Rights Law by prohibiting employers …

BLOG / 10.15.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

32BJ And RAB Reach Agreement On Implementing Vaccination Policies In Buildings

Local 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board have entered into a “Memorandum of Understanding” regarding the implementation of vaccine mandates at buildings. Employers may require employees to be vaccinated under the following timetables and protocols: 1. Employers must give employees one week’s notice of their intention to require vaccinations at the building; 2. By the …

BLOG / 09.16.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Our Legislature At Work, Legal News & Updates 9.15.2021

The New York State Legislature has considered the pressing problems affecting community associations and in response, has passed at least four new bills affecting condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners associations that are either awaiting the Governor’s signature or have been signed into law. “PREVAILING WAGE” BILL SIGNED INTO LAW. Governor Hochul has signed into law the …

BLOG / 09.08.21 /Eric P. Blahaand

Cooperative Disclosure Law Now In Effect In Westchester County. Will Other Counties Follow?

The Westchester County Board of Legislators recently amended Local Law 2018-11 to impose new timetables and guidelines on Co-op Boards when developing application forms for potential purchasers, reviewing completed purchase applications, and accepting or denying applicants. The law became effective August 1, 2021, and implementation became mandatory August 16, 2021. Although this law applies only …

BLOG / 06.15.21 /Jennifer L. Stewart

Up in Smoke? What does the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”) mean for Condo and Co-op Boards and their employees?

As of March 31, 2021, cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in New York. Adults 21 and over are permitted to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis or .8 ounces of concentrated cannabis and generally to smoke anywhere cigarette smoking is permitted. Growing and sales are not legal quite yet, but will …

BLOG / 06.11.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Legislature Exempts Co-ops From Key Restrictions In “Housing Stability Act”

On June 10th, the State Senate and Assembly removed most cooperative corporations (with one significant exception noted later in this Alert) from the application of key sections of the so-called “Tenant Protection and Housing Stability Act” that had lumped private Co-ops in with for-profit rentals. The changes included the following: 1. (a) Co-ops Can Recover …

BLOG / 05.14.21 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Covid-19: Can Associations Require COVID Vaccinations?

Everyone finally has access to vaccines! Gyms, playrooms and pools are starting to reopen! Previously Associations worried about requiring COVID testing. Now they must consider whether to require COVID vaccinations as a condition of employment or renewed use of their facilities. Employees. Under current OSHA and EEOC guidelines, Associations do have the right to require …

BLOG / 03.24.21 /Eric P. Blaha

Boards and Management: Waiting for “The Other Shoe to Drop” After Mandatory “Reasonable Accommodation” Disclosures

Human rights laws and fair housing laws have been in effect for decades, providing equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities to use and enjoy housing, amenities and services. Yet Co-op and Condo Boards and Management may want to brace themselves for the potential onslaught of requests for reasonable modifications and accommodations from people …

BLOG / 02.22.21 /Eric P. Blaha

State Incentives Reduce Sticker Shock of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations

GM recently announced that it will eliminate fossil fuel vehicles by 2035. It seems inevitable that multifamily property owners, including co-op and condo boards, will need to make arrangements to install electric vehicle charging stations to meet anticipated demand by resident owners long before then. As part of NY’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions …

BLOG / 02.03.21 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro

Covid-19: DHCR Allows Co-ops to Impose Mask Mandates; Employers May Require Vaccinations from Employees; Condo Lien Foreclosures Not Barred by Latest Moratorium

DHCR Grants Powers to Co-ops to Enforce COVID Rules. DHCR has issued regulations allowing “Limited Profit and Limited Dividend” housing projects (such as Mitchell-Lama co-ops and many HDFC’s) to pass rules requiring residents to wear masks in public areas if they cannot maintain social distancing. Building owners are authorized to [“shall”] deny admittance to any …

BLOG / 01.19.21 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro

Covid-19: New Rules Evictions and Foreclosures Still Limited News on Insurance Costs and Taxes

PPP UPDATE Co-ops STILL Eligible. Condos and HOA’s May be Challenged. Co-ops are eligible for PPP Loans even as first-time borrowers. Based on the statutory language in the new Stimulus bill, though, Condos and HOA’s do not qualify because (unlike Co-ops) they were not specifically included. Hopefully that omission will be corrected or explained away, …

BLOG / 12.23.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Covid-19: Co-op Boards Need to Act Fast on Paycheck Protection Loans – Habitat Weekly

“Call your lender,” echoes Ken Jacobs, a partner at the law firm Smith Buss & Jacobs. “If they aren’t making the loans themselves, they will know lenders who will make these SBA-backed loans. I’d be shocked if they couldn’t hook you up. And boards should apply quickly, because the money could run out. That’s what happened last …

BLOG / 11.10.20 /Matthew J. Smith

Condo/Co-op Projects and Alterations: Protecting Residents from Illness and Protecting Boards from Potential Liability

As Covid-19 safety procedures and regulations remain in effect, condominium and cooperative boards and their building managers would be wise to take measures to protect building residents (and contractors) from illness and insulate boards and owners from potential liability. On June 8, 2020 non-essential construction projects in NYC were approved to resume after a nearly …

BLOG / 11.10.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Covid-19: Burdens Facing Co-ops and Condos in 2021 and Beyond

While New York State remains preoccupied with controlling the latest COVID surges, the NYC Council has imposed new burdens on cooperatives and condominium in the name of safety. What are we facing for 2021? 1. NYS Quarantine Rules Change Again. As of November 4th, persons spending more than 24 hours in another state are required …

BLOG / 10.13.20 /Eric P. Blaha

Co-Ops & Condos fitness facilities re-opening questions

Watch Eric Blaha answer some FAQ from Co-Ops & Condos regarding the re-opening of fitness centers. SBJ YouTube FAQ Video October 13, 2020 featuring Eric Blaha

BLOG / 09.28.20 /

Socially Distanced Closings

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the closing process in the real estate industry. Many offices that used to host typical real estate closings now prohibit or discourage in-person closings, and closing participants are reluctant to spend extended periods in conference rooms that can seem cramped and unventilated. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the NY …

BLOG / 09.23.20 /Ryan P. Houck

Update: Condo Board Collection of Unpaid Common Charges in the Face of COVID-19 Regulations

With all of the Executive Orders from Governor Cuomo and the Administrative Orders issued by the Chief Administrative Judges of the State and City of New York in response thereto, Condo Boards and Managing Agents are justifiably confused as to what, if anything, a Condominium Board can do to collect unpaid common charges. Currently, no …

BLOG / 09.14.20 /Ryan P. Houck

Update: Condo Board Collection of Unpaid Common Charges in the Face of COVID-19 Regulations

With all of the Executive Orders from Governor Cuomo and the Administrative Orders issued by the Chief Administrative Judges of the State and City of New York in response thereto, Condo Boards and Managing Agents are justifiably confused as to what, if anything, a Condominium Board can do to collect unpaid common charges. Currently, no …

BLOG / 08.30.20 /Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. JacobsandThomas W. Smith

Latest Covid-19 Developments: Gyms

NEW YORK STATE AUTHORIZES GYMS TO REOPEN (SORT OF) New York State is allowing gyms to reopen as early as August 24th, unless the locality delays openings (but not later than September 2nd). Sounds like great news, until you read the details. The six-page “summary” of reopening guidelines for gyms and fitness centers appears on …

BLOG / 08.26.20 /Ryan P. Houck

New COVID-19 Directives Extend Moratorium on NY Eviction Proceedings

by Ryan Houck In response to Executive Order 202.55 signed by Governor Cuomo on August 5, 2020, the Chief Administrative Judges of the State and City of New York recently promulgated a new set of directives addressing pending landlord-tenant cases. Judgments Already Issued. For residential cases commenced prior to March 17, 2020, a Petitioner (Co-op) …

BLOG / 07.03.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro


NEW LAWS REGARDING EVICTIONS AND FORECLOSURES; PPP PROGRAM EXTENDED; Q&A ON REOPENING ISSUES MORATORIUM ON RESIDENTIAL NON-PAYMENT EVICTIONS EXTENDED INDEFINITELY.  Last night Governor Cuomo signed the “Tenant Safe Harbor Act”, which bans issuance of a warrant of eviction against a residential tenant or other lawful occupant who has suffered a “financial hardship” during the “COVID-19 …

BLOG / 05.28.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro

COVID-19: Guidelines for Reopening Buildings

Guidelines for Reopening Buildings The pressure to relax the guidelines for access to condominium and cooperative buildings, including their common facilities, has been growing. Boards need to develop a plan for handling the increased risks that come with increased traffic within the premises and social interaction among owners. The following assumes that you have guidelines …

BLOG / 05.11.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro


Executive Order Allows Use of Security Deposits for Rent, Extends Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures. On May 7th Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.28, which provides in part that (i) residential landlords and tenants can agree with each other to use security deposits to pay rent arrears; (ii) requires landlords to use a security deposit …

BLOG / 05.05.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Jeffrey D. Buss,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro


More Fun with PPP. The scramble by cooperatives and condominiums for a definitive decision about eligibility for Paycheck Protection Program loans has generated further confusion. The list of Frequently Asked Questions published by the SBA on April 24th included this one: “35. Question: Are agricultural and other forms of cooperatives eligible to receive PPP loans? …

BLOG / 04.27.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs,Thomas W. Smithand

Coronavirus: Dealing with Commercial Tenants Seeking Rent Abatements

Many commercial tenants are asking their landlords for rent relief due to their business losses during the lockdown. How are landlords responding? Spoiler Alert: No Magic Bullet or Standard Formula. We have consulted with landlords with billion-dollar portfolios and with only a single tenant. All of them have advised us that they are dealing with …

BLOG / 04.16.20 /Eric P. BlahaandKenneth R. Jacobs


Spring Annual Meeting Season is Here! But how can associations run effective meetings without owners being physically present to participate? Even though “social distancing” seems to be slowing the spread of COVID-19, we expect that Governor Cuomo will extend the portions of Executive Order 202.8 that suspend longstanding legal requirements that ownership meetings must be …

BLOG / 04.15.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs


Cooperatives and condominiums appear to be adjusting to the “new normal” – limited access, leaner staff, frustration at so many halted projects, etc. Below is a status report on current and upcoming issues that we see. Face Coverings for Building Employees. Executive Order No. 202.16, finalized yesterday, requires employers to provide “face coverings,” at employer …

BLOG / 04.04.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro


A. SBA Questions Co-op Eligibility. In our earlier E-blast, we suggested that the SBA might take the position that Co-ops might not be eligible for PPP loans. So far that appears to be the case. The SBA appears to be basing its position on portions of its “Standard Operating Procedure” handbook for loans to businesses, …

BLOG / 04.03.20 /Eric P. Blaha,Kenneth R. Jacobs,Emanuela Lupu,Thomas W. SmithandDomenick J. Tammaro


PPP applications were made available on Tuesday night. By Wednesday, approved SBA lenders were overwhelmed with requests for assistance. This morning, Treasury issued new application forms that are completely different from the old ones! [CLICK HERE FOR APPLICATION] Meanwhile, we are getting the following feedback from lenders and asset managers: 1. They will give first …

BLOG / 04.01.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Coronavirus: Paycheck Protection Program Application Form Out!

PPP APPLICATION FORM OUT! The Treasury Department has just issued the form of Application for Paycheck Protection Program applications. The form of application is attached to this E-Mail, together with guidance from Treasury for prospective Borrowers. Who to Believe? The Borrower’s Guidance accompanying the application states that loans will have a maturity of two years …

BLOG / 03.31.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Coronavirus: State & Federal Updates – Who’s “Essential” Now?

STATE UPDATES The list of occupations deemed “essential” – which means that employers don’t have to close, and their employees don’t have to remain at home – is being refined daily. Doormen were excluded, only to be reinstated a day later. Landscapers have now been deemed “essential”, to the relief of many suburban communities. Property Managers are also considered essential to …

BLOG / 03.12.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Legal Issues Dealing with Coronavirus in Condos and Co-ops

Boards face new legal issues in dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, requiring them to balance the interests of the community against the rights of individual residents. What steps can Boards take to protect their residents against the spread of coronavirus in the building while avoiding liability for either acting too invasively or not doing enough? …

BLOG / 02.25.20 /Eric P. Blaha

NYS’s Latest “Guidance” Raises New Concerns Under the Tenant Protection Act

For real estate owners, managers and brokers seeking to make sense of (and engage in damage control from) the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“TPA”) passed nearly 8 months ago, the clarity provided by the NY Department of State in its latest “Guidance for Real Estate Professionals” issued on January 31, 2020, …

BLOG / 02.25.20 /

Tort and contract claims against Coop Board Member survive pre-answer dismissal motion

Members of a cooperative’s board of directors enjoy the protections of both the corporate shield and the business judgment rule, such that they may not be held personally liable for property damage or personal injury when a claim is made in connection with actions taken by directors in their official capacity as board members. But …

BLOG / 01.21.20 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Are Cooperative Corporations Carrying Enough “Lost Business Income” Insurance?

Imagine that your 30-unit building suffers a catastrophic fire. Maintenance charges (rent) usually abates for the affected tenants after a casualty. How certain are you that your coverage for lost maintenance, known as “Business Income” coverage, will last through the full restoration? Coverage limits are expressed in terms of maximum coverage, time and allowed expenses.  …

BLOG / 11.15.19 /Eric P. Blaha

New Law Allowing Remote Shareholder Attendance and Electronic Voting May Change … Everything!

Low attendance at Co-op annual or special shareholder meetings can result in a lack of a quorum and can delay or even prevent boards of directors from taking actions that require shareholder approval.  Thus, co-op boards and shareholders alike may welcome a new law authorizing boards to permit remote shareholder attendance and electronic voting at …

BLOG / 11.14.19 /

New Transfer Tax Requirements for LLC’s

NY State and NYC transfer tax laws were recently amended to require that transfer tax returns filed by limited liability companies (“LLC’s”) for the sale or purchase of residential real property include the names, addresses and taxpayer ID numbers of all of the individual members of both the LLC itself and of its non-natural members.  …

BLOG / 10.17.19 /Eric P. Blaha

Are Boards Always Protected by the “Business Judgment” Rule?

New board  members  in New York quickly learn that most of their decisions are protected under the “business judgment rule,” which states a court should defer to a co-op [or condo] board’s determination so long as the board is acting “for the purposes of the cooperative, within the scope of its authority, and in good …

BLOG / 10.15.19 /Emanuela LupuandJack Malley

Co-op and Condo Boards Must Pay Overtime to Live-In Supers

In our practice, we have seen an uptick in lawsuits by live-in superintendents and other full-time employees against cooperatives, condominiums, homeowners associations (HOAs), and even managing agents (who are defined as employees under federal regulations). These lawsuits are frequently commenced after the employee has been terminated, and they typically allege that the employer failed to pay overtime wages …

BLOG / 09.16.19 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Department of State Issues Guidance Exempting Co-ops from Limits on “Application Fees”

The NYS Department of State has just issued “Guidance for Real Estate Professionals” regarding the Housing Stability Act. One of the Q&A’s reads as follows: “DOES THE ACT RESTRICT APPLICATION FEES FOR RENTALS? “Yes…. Under the Act a ‘landlord, lessor, sub-lessor or grantor’ is now prohibited from collecting an application fee greater than $20.00…[However,] the …

BLOG / 07.15.19 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

How the “Tenant Protection Act” Affects Co-ops and Condos: Limits on Late Fees; Recovery of Expenses in Evictions; Timetables to Cure Defaults; Ban on Escrows for Maintenance; Limits on Application Fees Charged by Managing Agents

The newly passed “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019” (the “ TP Act ”) makes sweeping changes expanding tenant rights in rental apartment buildings. However, since Co-op corporations also have a landlord-tenant relationship with their shareholders, many of these changes will significantly affect enforcement of the Cooperative’s rights as well. 1. TP Act …

BLOG / 07.12.19 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Legislative Update: “Prevailing Wages” Required to Receive Co-op/Condo Tax Abatements; Mandatory Garage Inspections

Most of our attention has been focused on the effects of the newly passed “Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019” (the “ TP Act ”) on rental apartment buildings. However, several other recently enacted state and local laws also affect cooperatives and condominiums in New York City and the surrounding counties. 1. “Prevailing …

BLOG / 03.21.19 /Jack Malley

U.S. Department of Labor Rejects New York Law Regarding Wages Paid To Live-In Superintendents

On March 14, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “U.S. DOL”) issued an opinion that resolves a conflict between federal law and the New York Department of Labor Building Service Industry Minimum Wage Order (the “NY Wage Order”). Although U.S. DOL opinion letters are not binding law that courts must follow, courts often give great weight to the guidance set forth in them, and employers can rely on such guidance as a good faith defense to a wage claim arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”).

BLOG / 03.15.19 /Kenneth R. Jacobs

Shareholder Meeting Requirements

SO YOU’VE CALLED your annual meeting, sent out proxies, put up reminders, and promised refreshments The big day comes – and you don’t have a quorum. What do you?