Sunday, October 28, 2007

Can Parents Move Into a Co-op?

The New York Times
October 28, 2007
Q & A

Q We plan to move out of our co-op but would like our elderly parents to be able to live in the apartment. Since we will still be paying the maintenance, will we have to obtain co-op board approval? Does this constitute a sublet?

A “As usual, it would be necessary to review the proprietary lease to provide a definitive answer,” said Elliott Meisel, a Manhattan co-op lawyer. “This is especially so for this question because the answer may turn on one word.”

Most proprietary leases address who can occupy an apartment. Some allow the shareholder or the shareholder’s spouse, their children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. But the more common proprietary lease substitutes the word “and” for the word “or” in the preceding sentence.

Mr. Meisel noted that the courts have held that the use of the word “and” means the other members of the family may live in the apartment only if the named shareholder also lives there at the same time; they cannot reside there instead of the shareholder.

“Any other occupancy would constitute a subletting,” Mr. Meisel said, and unless the lease contained the less restrictive “or,” the letter writer would have to get the permission of the co-op board for the parents to occupy the apartment.

Address questions to Real Estate Q&A, The New York Times, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018, or by e-mail to Answers can be given only through the column.

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