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Court Decision Ordering Cooperative Board To Approve Sale Of Apartment To Disable Person Affirmed A Ganfer & Shore Client Advisory for July 2008

We previously reported on an unusual case in which a Manhattan judge directed a cooperative board to approve the sale of an apartment.(Please see the January 2006 and July 2007 issues of this Client Advisory).The board had initially approved the sale, but rescinded its approval after the would-be purchaser requested permission to install a washer-dryer in the unit as an accommodation to the purchasers disabling illness.The trial court found that the rescission of the approval for this reason violated federal, state, and city anti-discrimination laws and ordered that the Board reinstate its approval of the sale.

On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial courts decision.Hirschmann v. Hassapovannes, 2008 WL 2246141, 2008 N.Y. Slip Op. 4927 (1st Dept June 3, 2008).The appeals court held that by law, buyer was not required to disclose, and the co-op was not permitted to inquire into, buyers disability, and consequent need for a reasonable accommodation, at the interview, or indeed at any time prior to its decision on the application.Therefore, there was no merit to the Boards contention that the buyer had sought to mislead it by requesting permission to install the washer-dryer only after the sale had been approved.The appeals court concluded that [w]hile a cooperative board has the responsibility to protect shareholders from potential or existing shareholders who might harm the shareholders and the co-ops interests, here, the co-op entirely failed to present a nondiscriminatory reason for revoking its approval of the buyer.

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