How can parents deal with condo and co-op associations that are not family friendly?
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
What if your NY co-op told you that you must enter exit through the back door with your baby stroller?
No, I am not making this up.
Check out this recent article from Habitat Magazine. A family in Brooklyn says that management of their co-op building is enforcing the “back door” rule.
Not only is that a stupid rule, legal experts say it could be considered downright discriminatory.
Only in Brooklyn: Discrimination Against Baby Strollers
Aug. 10, 2017 — Co-op says parents with strollers must use the building’s rear door.
A couple bought into a co-op in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a month ago, and promptly began putting their baby in a stroller and exiting and re-entering the building through the front door. Then one day, an employee of the managing agent informed them that parents with strollers must use the rear door. The couple reread the resident handbook and found no such rule. If a rule is not written, does it have to be followed?
“I find it hard to believe that a co-op would have a rule that babies cannot enter the building’s front door if they are in a stroller,” attorney Beatrice Lesser, a partner at Gallet, Dreyer & Berkey, tells the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times.
What could possibly be the reason behind this rule? Could it be that someone in the apartment building is not happy about having children around?
Whatever the reason, Attorney Lesser suggests that the parents simply ignore the request and assert their rights to see the rule in writing, if, in fact, the rule officially exists. And if the rule is official, but only applies to families with children, in Lesser’s opinion, that would create grounds for a fair housing complaint of discrimination on the basis of familial status.
And baby strollers aren’t the only issue.
Condo and co-op residents in New York and elsewhere have a history of complaining about noise made by children, especially living in close quarters or upstairs. The problem is particularly common in buildings with wood frame construction, or older buildings that lack insulation between the floor and ceiling of each level.
The New York Times featured this contentious issue in their Real Estate section several years ago.
The Noise Children Make
By TERI KARUSH ROGERSJULY 6, 2008
APARTMENT dwellers in New York City have long endured the trauma of jackhammers, Manolo Blahniks, recycling trucks, sirens, canines and air-conditioning systems.
But, perhaps because the population of children in the city is increasing, the sound of little feet is a complaint being voiced with increasing frequency. And, for reasons ranging from a sense of entitlement to the impossibility of teaching a 3-year-old to glide to the potty like a supermodel, the parents of those little feet are not happy to hear that their children are driving you crazy.
Many, in fact, have heard just about enough of it. They complain that they are being forced to choose between being good neighbors and good parents. “It’s nerve-racking to be constantly shushing my kids and not letting them be normal kids in the morning,” said Janeen Thompson, who lives in a postwar rental building in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Her two young sons — ages 5 and 2 ½ — have elicited multiple noise complaints from their downstairs neighbor, a 25-year-old woman with no children.
How far will some association governed communities go to ensure that children cause no trouble?
Well, in one instance, a co-op board even insisted a woman bring her child to the shareholder interview.
For readers who may be unfamiliar with cooperative associations, it is typical for co-ops to require an in-person interview with any potential new shareholder. This requirement is in addition to a through background screening and credit history. And the kicker is, in New York, the co-op board does not have to provide a reason for rejecting an application, even if the potential shareholder can well afford to pay assessments and maintenance fees.
In this case, the mother pushed back, rather than acquiescing to the co-op board’s potentially discriminatory request.
Co-op Board Asked to Interview Homebuyer’s Child, Mom Says
By James Fanelli | May 26, 2015 7:26am | Updated on May 26, 2015 6:14pm
MIDTOWN EAST — They’re not kidding around.
A co-op board at a fancy Tudor City apartment building doesn’t just grill prospective buyers to see if they would make suitable neighbors — it also wants to interview their children.
In what could be a first for the city — even in one with such a cutthroat and capricious real estate market — co-op board members at Woodstock Tower have instructed buyers to bring along their kids to interviews that determine whether they get apartments.
That’s what one buyer, Joyce Kacin, said in a complaint she sent last year to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio, claiming the co-op board made the unusual request to her — and that it was discriminatory.
And if parents think that moving away from New York City to more suburban Connecticut might be easier on their kids, think again.
In this Manchester condo complex, Holly Miller received violation notices for allowing their two children to play on the lawn areas. The association manager says there is a rule against anyone – adult or child – playing or even lounging on the front lawn area.
By the way, this is how many association boards get around the Fair Housing law. As long as the the “keep off the grass” rule applies to everyone, it is not discriminatory, according to legal experts.
And to add to the stress, this mother and her children are also treated differently because they happen to rent their unit rather than owning the condo.
A neighboring condo resident insists there is another grassy area on the rear side of the building where the children can play, but Miller says there is not much space there to run around. Ultimately, Miller may decide not to renew her lease.
Woman warned after children played on condo complex grass
Posted: Apr 27, 2017 8:24 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 27, 2017 8:24 PM EDT
By David McKayCONNECT
By Kaitlyn NaplesCONNECT
A local family living in a condo complex got a “warning” after their children were playing on the grass.
No kids, no adults, no dogs are allowed on a common area at the Northfield Green Condominium Complex in Manchester.
Holly Miller has lived at the complex for two years, and she has two sons, 10-year-old Michael, and 8-year-old Nicholas.
“Recently, my kids during the first few beautiful days of this month, my children ran outside and started playing on this front lawn area, and I got an infraction notice within like three days stating that children are not allowed to play on the grass,” Miller said. “They don’t play on the PlayStation. They like to go outside.”
In the complex’s rule book, it states that people aren’t allowed to lay in the grass, but residents said there are no warning signs posted, telling them to keep off the common area.
“The rule is intended to help keep the lawn areas directly in front of homes in good aesthetic condition,” said a statement from the property management company’s attorney.
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Of course, this sad state of affairs is nearly unavoidable in expensive housing markets such as metropolitan New York. What are families with children to do if they are not in a financial position to purchase a single family home with a yard, often requiring a lengthy commute to and from their place of employment?
Municipal planners and real estate developers seem unable or unwilling to build modestly sized detached single family homes, leaving many families with children no alternative to living in a condo or co-op or apartment community.
On the other hand, some families genuinely enjoy city life and want to expose their children to cultural opportunities. Yet very few multifamily condos and co-ops have been constructed or renovated with children in mind – no interior soundproofing, no place to store strollers and riding toys, no safe areas for children to play indoors or outdoors.
And when you add onerous rules and difficult neighbors to the mix, families are finding that many condo and co-op communities do not welcome their children.