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Ask an Expert: Do I need co-op board approval to leave my 19-year-old in my apartment?

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Q. I'm moving to London for work and planning to leave my 19-year-old son in my co-op apartment. He will take in a roommate to cover some of the costs. Do I need to get the approval of the co-op board?

A.  You might, say our experts. The answer depends on what your proprietary lease says.

"Some proprietary leases provide that an apartment may be used by a shareholder and family members, usually including a spouse, children and parents," says real estate attorney Jeffrey Reich of Wolf Haldenstein Alder Freeman & Herz.  Courts typically interpret the "and" to mean that the shareholder (you) must be residing there at the same time--meaning you would need to get the board's approval to leave your son on his own.

If your proprietary lease says that you or a family member may reside in the apartment, you don't need to clear it with the board.

That said, if your son is collecting rent from his roommate, there is another issue.

"Under the Roommate Law, he can have a roommate but not a subtenant," says Stuart Saft, a real estate lawyer at Holland & Knight. "The fact that the roommate is paying your son to reside in the apartment could bring him under the definition of a subtenant, requiring board approval."


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