FAQs

Where does ACCO work?

We’re dedicated to representing & advancing the interests of co-op & condo owners throughout New York state. Anyone can belong, participate in activities, and support our work. You can help bring ACCO to your community.

How will joining help me?

In addition to being part of a powerful grassroots movement, you’ll be briefed on issues of interest to co-op and condo owners. You’ll have the opportunity to attend seminars where you’ll learn about organizing, your rights as an owner, & how to solve problems in your building. You’ll also be eligible to participate in the ACCO lobbying & legislative process. Finally, members enjoy the right to pose questions for answers and possible action by our Alliance Advocacy Team.

Why do I need ACCO, when I can just call the Attorney General?

The AG’s office does excellent work…but their scope is extremely limited; essentially, they deal only with new buildings & conversions. If you have a problem with the governance of an established condo or co-op—for example, if the Board or agent violate your By-Laws or the Business Corporation Law & do not respond to your complaints—the A.G. will simply tell you to hire a private attorney.

We know what that costs, & believe there’s a better way.

Why does membership cost $1?

We’re an advocacy organization—we want to list as many people as possible in our member ranks. Clearly, we don’t want our fee to be an obstacle. Holding membership cost to $1—per person, per year—allows everyone who believes in our mission to join with us to lobby effectively for constructive change. In fact, at just $1, all registered voters with an ownership stake in their home can afford to belong, greatly increasing our impact. (Think spouses, partners, parents, & children over 18.)

On hearing this policy, people often ask: “Well, then…why not free?” The simple reason is that when legislators ask about our members—about who’s standing behind our positions—we want to be crystal clear that ACCO is not a bunch of names culled from lists, or people who might have responded to an email or flyer years ago. If all members, every year, pay to renew their commitment to ACCO & what we work for, that $1 membership carries enormous weight.

What else does ACCO ask of members?

Since we’re a non-profit that sells membership for a song, we expect our members to:

  1. Recruit other members. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers…anyone that owns a condo, co-op, or HOA home in New York State. Face it: at $1 per year, the empowerment we offer is an easy sell! If each member recruits just 2 others, ACCO will grow to be a much more effective advocate for owners’ rights.
  2. Speak up. From time to time, we’ll circulate petitions or ask members to call or write their elected representatives on an important issue. Only by doing so can we collectively achieve the change we need. That’s what makes ACCO an Alliance.
  3. Give when able. Though we’re all volunteers, it still costs more than $1 per member to maintain our website, help members with issues, & travel to legislators’ offices. Add $20 to your annual membership check, & you’ll put a dent in our overhead & make us eternally grateful. Add $100, & you’re an ACCO Angel, helping many others to achieve equitable treatment & fair play!

What do you mean by “owners pay legal costs for both sides?”

The general idea is that, in any conflict between owner(s) & Board, owners must pay all their own legal expenses plus their proportional share of the building’s legal expenses. Board members may spend association or corporation funds freely—even implementing assessments, if they choose—& are personally liable only for their own proportional share of the building’s legal costs.

In certain circumstances, co-op shareholders may be entitled to recover their legal costs from the corporation, as stipulated by Real Property Law Section 234. In order to do so, shareholders must 1st prevail in the action. To do so may take years, & could easily cost tens (or even hundreds) of $thousands. Further—if the Board prevails, shareholders might be liable to reimburse all of the corporation’s legal expenses. The bottom line is that, whether shareholder or Board bring an action, either side might have to pay for the entire lawsuit. However, it’s often the case that neither side is deemed to “prevail,” & each pays its own costs.

A co-op proprietary lease usually stipulates when the corporation (& therefore the shareholder, under RPL 234) may be entitled to legal costs. Typically, recovery is restricted to specific situations, such as “tenant default;” this language must be studied carefully.

For condos, Section 234 does not apply. In certain circumstances, the Board may be entitled to recover legal costs from its owner adversary, but owners are unlikely to ever have a viable claim to recover any legal costs from the building.

For further research, start here:

FNYHC re legal costs 2009-10-29.pdf

http://www.stroock.com/SiteFiles/Pub725.pdf

http://cooperator.com/articles/272/1/Recovering-Legal-Fees/Page1.html