Publication date: Autumn 1997
COURT REFORM INCLUDES A SEPARATE
FOR CO-OP/CONDO ISSUES
The New York State Unified Court System has introduced sweeping
modifications to the Housing Court in an effort to eliminate
delays and overcrowding, help litigants better understand
their responsibilities and present their cases, and provide
judges with staffing and the backup that they need to manage
their enormous case loads.
A cogent and insightful report by Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Chief Administrative
Judge Jonathan Lipmann, aptly titled "Breaking New Ground",
presents a multi-faceted program for modernizing and streamlining the
housing court, and reports upon many initiatives already being implemented.
Long-term, the Unified Court System has proposed a constitutional amendment
to restructure the State's trial court system, reducing the current complex
nine-level system to two tiers of trial courts -- a Supreme Court with
unlimited jurisdiction and a District Court with limited jurisdiction.
The Constitutional amendment elevates the Housing Court from its present
administrative level by establishing a Housing Division within the New
York City District Court, on equal footing with the civil and criminal
Meanwhile, measures currently being implemented bring to the court system
the power of the computer to schedule cases and quickly verify the status
of building violations, to introduce mediation as an alternative conflict
resolution resource, to provide child care facilities, and to engage vitally
needed additional judges and staff. Included is a pilot program of a separate
housing court part to hear cases relating to cooperatives and condominiums,
which is scheduled to become operational in December 1997.
The discussion of this separate part reflects a clear, practical understanding
of the issue:
- Pilot Cooperative/Condominium Resolution Part
In recent years, the number of Housing Court cases involving resident-owners
and cooperative/condominium boards has increased. These matters have
serious implications both for the resident and for the cooperative or
condominium, which must rely on maintenance and common charges to operate
their buildings. To ensure prompt resolution of these matters and the
development of procedures appropriate for this case type, a pilot Cooperative/Condominium
Resolution Part will open citywide in December 1997.
- The part will promote expeditious resolution of both nonpayment and
holdover proceedings involving cooperatives and condominiums. As with
all other Resolution Parts, the Court will work with the parties to
formulate a workable settlement and, where settlement is not possible,
assign the case promptly to a Trial Ready Part for trial on a date certain.
ALL N.Y.C. CO-OP GROUPS SUPPORT
A SEPARATE PART
CNYC has worked for several years for a separate part in the housing court
where the sitting judge will be hearing only cases involving cooperatives
and condominiums and their residents. Working in concert with the Coordinating
Council of Cooperatives, the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives
and the HDFC Coalition, we presented a white
paper explaining the need for this Separate Part, arguing that inability
to collect maintenance or carrying charges constitutes the greatest threat
to the continued viability of cooperatively owned housing. .
Together, our four organizations testified at hearings of the City Council's
Committee on Housing and Buildings. The City Council subsequently passed
a bill advocating a Separate Part. Together, at the invitation of the
Housing Court, we presented a program for the judges describing the diversity
of rules, bylaws and responsibilities in the many different kinds of housing
cooperatives found in this city. Together we researched the volume of
cases in housing court involving cooperatives and condominiums. Together
we appeared at a hearing convened last spring by Assemblyman Scott Stringer's
Committee on the Housing Court. And together we acknowledge the excellent
program of reform now being implemented in the courts.
Amendments to the Constitution of the State of New York must be approved
by two legislative sessions and then ratified by a vote of the people
of New York State. CNYC will keep its members advised of the progress
of this amendment.